We’ve spoken a lot lately about walking the Christian path, and doing our very best to uphold those virtues and behaviors that would exemplify Christ in our lives. There are several things that can help us on our journey. Something I’ve found to have a great impact in my life are the Five Reiki Principles. Though Reiki is not tied specifically to Christianity, I find the two to be extremely compatible and complementary. Each of the five principles has a strong correlation in Scripture. Each helps us to live a more peaceful, thankful, abundant life – one day at a time, or, “Just For Today.”.
So, starting today, for five Sundays, I’ll be addressing one principle each week. The first Reiki Principle is – Just For Today, I Will Let Go Of Anger.
“Whenever anger comes up, take out a mirror and look at yourself.
When you are angry, you are not very beautiful.”
THICH NHAT HANH, Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
What is Anger?
Anger, in and of itself, is an emotional response to an event or situation. Let me say that again…anger is an emotional response; it’s not a state of being. People often say, “He (or she) made me so angry.” Let me ask you a question. Can I “make” you love me? No, of course not. Neither can I “make” you angry. I might say or do something that triggers the emotional response of anger within you, but I can’t actually make you angry. You are simply having an emotional response to an external stimulus. It’s how you choose to respond to the emotion that can be detrimental. Let’s take a little closer look.
A. Anger Defined
Anger is a strong feeling of intense displeasure, hostility, or indignation that results from a real or imagined threat, insult, frustration, or injustice toward yourself or others important to you.
B. There are three types of anger:
- Rage – Usually manifests in an explosive expression of anger, either physical or verbal.
- Resentment – Usually manifests as repressed or suppressed anger.
- Indignation – Manifests as righteous anger due to a wrong someone else has suffered or an unjust situation.
C. Causes of Anger
There are many reasons we might become angry. For example: when we lose control of a situation, especially if we don’t get our own way; if we feel rejected, excluded, or mistreated in some way; when we suffer loss, or even fear a loss before it happens; injustice or mistreatment of others; and feeling in some way inadequate if we compare ourselves or our lives to others.
When these situations occur, it’s important for us to gauge the situation and measure our response accordingly. Not all anger is bad – it’s how we react and what we do with it that makes the difference. Remember, even Jesus got angry. John 2:15 (“And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overthrew the tables”) tells us of Jesus’ righteous anger at the Pharisees and Sadducees for turning the temple into a marketplace, thus dishonoring God. Now, I don’t recommend attacking others or destroying property. But, this passage does remind us that it’s natural to get angry – and we all do at some point. Anger in and of itself is not sinful – it’s our response and reaction that can be inappropriate.
For instance – in our attempt to control our anger, do we simply deny it exists? Or, maybe we simply push it down deep inside and suppress it. Neither of these is in our best interest. When we deny or suppress our anger, it festers and simmers. Then, all too often, when we’ve done this long enough, we become a powder keg and we blow up with violent outbursts – usually taking our anger out on innocent people who happen to be around us at that particular moment. Very often this type of response builds over such a long time that it takes a very small thing to push us over the edge, and we react completely inappropriately to the situation. Some people, too, make excuses and blame their anger on having a “short fuse,” and typically react with harsh outbursts, either physical or verbal, to just about everything that sets them off. This is why I think the key to Paul’s statement about anger, not returning evil for evil, etc. is his caution to maintain self-control. It’s also what is meant in Ephesians 4:26 where it says, ““In your anger do not sin.”; meaning don’t let anger become wrath, a violent outburst.
When we lose self-control, we’re usually the ones who end up looking foolish. Scripture reminds us this fact in several places:
- Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”
- Proverbs 14:29 He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, but he who is impulsive exalts folly.
- Proverbs 16:32 “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty…”
Anger and Health
Inappropriate handling of anger can also lead to serious health problems, among them:
- Disease – when anger subsides, the chemicals released during the event leaves our bodies more easily stressed; stress can trigger or exacerbate a whole host of conditions including diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, digestive issues, stroke, migraines, etc.
- Sleep Disorders – Anger can wreak havoc with hormones and other chemicals within the body causing difficulty in sleeping; even having difficulty sleeping can cause anger, which creates a vicious cycle.
- Respiratory Issues – If you are prone to problems such as asthma, anger can make it harder to breath and trigger an attack.
Learning how to control our anger can have a dramatic effect on our overall health.
There are many ways we can learn to let go of anger. Of course, as with everything in our lives, it will be easier when we invite God to be part of the process. In fact, sometimes just taking some time in prayer when we feel anger coming on can go a long way to reducing it. Simply getting quiet with God, and letting the Holy Spirit fill us with a sense of peace and calm can help us to see the situation more clearly, and can guide us to appropriate responses.
There are other things we can do, too:
- Identify the source of your anger. There may be some unresolved pain from your past that would cause you to react in a certain way when events occur. If this is the case, counseling may help to identify and resolve the issues from the past, making for a brighter, less angry future.
- Give yourself a time out, and breathe. Make a decision not to react quickly, or give in to knee-jerk reactions. Take a few deep breaths and calm yourself. When possible and appropriate, give the other person the chance to talk – and truly listen. James 1:19 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” When you slow down and truly listen, without thinking about what you’re going to say next, and you take a moment before you respond, you’ll be able to respond in a more appropriate way.
- Transfer the energy. Go for a walk, exercise, clean out a closet. This is a wonderful way to redirect the anger in a more positive way than lashing out or becoming violent.
- Wait for the anger to subside before speaking. Thomas Jefferson said, “When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, a hundred. Our mouths don’t have an “undo.” If you’re familiar with computers, there is a “Control+Z” function that allows you to undo something you typed. Our mouths don’t have a “Control+Z” – we can’t take back or undo hurtful words.
Our world and our lives are full of situations that can make us angry – injustice, bad drivers, betrayal, violence, etc. We will never be able to avoid all the causes of anger. We can, however, make a choice as to how we will respond. I use to always tell my children, “You cannot control the actions or behaviors of others, but you are 100% in control of how you react to them.” Anger is a very powerful emotion. But, when you take the time to invite God into the situation, the Holy Spirit will calm you, bring you peace, and allow for the possibility of forgiveness. And remember, reducing anger also minimizes susceptibility to numerous health issues, and makes us much more pleasant to be around. Who wants to be around someone who’s angry all the time?
You might have heard the phrase before…I can do anything for one day. I learned it in sobriety. I can’t promise I won’t drink tomorrow, but I can promise I won’t drink today. The same holds true for each of the Reiki Principles. So, I invite you to focus on just this one principle, every day, for a week. In the stillness and quietness your prayer and meditation time, focus on this one phrase – Just for today, I will let go of anger. Repeat it over and over several times. Ask God to be with you, ask Jesus to help heal any situations that arise, and ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a sense of peace and calm.
- John 2:15
- Ephesians 4:26
- Ecclesiastes 7:9
- Proverbs 14:29
- Proverbs 16:32
- James 1:19
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