Today, I came across a rather relevant article published by Time entitled, “How to Never Get Angry: 3 New Secrets From Neuroscience.”
I don’t know about you but during moments of stress, I feel a bubbling sense of irritation rising in me. It is interesting because I also stand as an observer of my emotions.
At this point, complains and blames would enter my mind. And I began to feel tempted to dwell on these thoughts… because self-righteous anger feels good.
But before my emotions could catch a hold of me, I would hear a small voice saying, “Do not get angry, my child.” I paused and prayed, “God, please help me.”
And when I look at the irritation agent, I start to think of positive things with the help of the Holy Spirit. I start to thank God. And I even start to pray for him or her. A sense of joy and peace came upon me.
For example, I used to get irritated with reckless drivers speeding on the road, swerving from left to right and back. But one day, the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray. And as I pray, love came upon me. My thoughts affected my emotions!
Now, whenever I see a reckless driver, I pray for the person instead of feeling angry. How amazing God is to turn my moments of irritation to praying and blessing.
And the best thing about reading this article is how science supports what the Bible tells us to do.
Firstly, a research shows that suppressing anger is rarely a good idea. Instead of feeling less angry, our stress level actually increases. And our amygdala (which is related to emotions) starts to work strenuously.
In other words, we are not meant to keep anger.
In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Eph 4:27 NIV)
But we are called to forgive.
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (Prov 17:9)
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (Prov 19:11)
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)
So, does that mean we should just release our anger? No, as well. Research shows that punching, yelling, and ranting actually intensifies the emotion. Basically, giving full vent to our anger makes things worse.
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. (Prov 29:11 NIV)
Then, what shall we do? We can neither bottle nor release our anger.
The answer is to avoid getting angry altogether by mastering our mind.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil (Psalm 37:8)
Research suggests that our brain has limited resources. If we use our brain to think, we have less resources to feel. That is why angry people are more inclined to do foolish things because they are thinking less.
To avoid anger is simply to choose our thoughts or simply pause and think. This is where things get interesting; because God has much to say about mastering our mind.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom 12:2a NIV)
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10:5 NIV)
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Eph 4:22 NIV)
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom 8:6 NIV)
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” (1 Pet 1:13)
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practicies, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” (Col 3:10)
The greatest battle is won in our mind!
Better than a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (Prov 16:32)
So, research says that the best way to avoid anger is to reappraise the situation. So, for example, if someone is screaming at you, imagine that person had a really bad day. And you will start to feel compassion as your anger diminishes.
But for us, whether we appraise the person as “deserving” of our compassion or not, the Bible already said that we shall love even our enemies (Matt 5:44-47) and “keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet 4:8)
Finally, why do we reappraise? We reappraise because we love. And we love because God loves us first. (1 John 4:19) Hence, the best way to deal with anger is really to avoid anger altogether by thinking about the Word of God, which fuels our love for people by the grace of God and infilling of the Holy Spirit.
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