What does Catholicism teach about how to deal with Anger before it erupts?


#1

Like when someone offends us or something goes wrong in life, how should we deal with Anger and preventing it from causing damage in our lives when the emotion first arises?


#2

(This post got long - I'll highlight the specific Catholic teaching parts!)

Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Anger expressed in a destructive way would be the sin part. The emotion of anger, of which you speak, can be many things. Emotions simply give us information about what's going on.

There can be "righteous anger" - like you'd feel if you saw a thug knock a little old lady down and steal her purse, for instance. That would motivate you to take some kind of action. Although what action you take would be a matter of moral judgment. It would be better to assist the lady first in case she's injured, than concentrate on being a hero and chasing down the robber. Best let the cops handle that part! :onpatrol:

Taking it further, say the lady is your grandma, and the guy who did it lives in your neighborhood. You'd like to go beat him senseless. :nunchuk: But this would be against the civil law and the moral law. Revenge isn't a good thing, obviously - though sometimes it can sure be a temptation - it feels really powerful and appeals to the side of us that feels powerless about things like people who hurt others. Revenge :blackeye: seems like it would fix a lot of things.

Or say we have a battered wife. She feels angry at her husband when he abuses her - but then later she feels like she has sinned for even feeling angry, because he's got her so brainwashed. She might need to listen to her anger more - not to murder him in his sleep, but to be moved to get away from him to a safe place.

Then there's just the everyday anger that comes from disagreements, inconveniences, people's being rude, etc.:mad: It can be a temptation to be vengeful or snarky or to harden into a constantly hostile and irritable person. This way of mishandling anger can lead to the immune system and cardiovascular system being harmed. So obviously God Himself has "hardwired" us to function better if we learn to deal constructively with anger. And common sense tells us that to escalate the anger can lead to worse results for us as well! :slapfight: :stretcher:

So . . . here's where the rubber hits the road. How do we deal? This varies for each person. Some have more reactive temperaments (myself included). Reactive types especially need to take time when they are calm to study the Bible and the Saints' writings on the subject and also possibly self-help books as long as those don't contradict Catholic/Christian teaching (like encouraging revenge for example). And to pray a lot.

It's also good to read and learn about the positive benefits and the spiritual necessity of forgiveness. That way, there's a "do" to go with the "don'ts."

We Catholics also have this concept of "near occasion of sin." Sometimes that can mean (at least for a time) avoiding people or situations that you recognize tend to make you feel your blood boiling. Whether it's dysfunctional family gatherings or trying to rush and pack too many errands in during rush-hour traffic - know your trigger situations and try to work around them at least until you feel you're getting your anger management skills built up more.

If one is Catholic, one can benefit greatly from the Sacrament of Reconciliation and gain graces and get advice from the priest on overcoming an anger problem. A person who is not Catholic can find someone - minister, rabbi, therapist, wise trusted friend even - to help deal with anger. Or take an anger management class. Try to recognize the body signals of high blood pressure or clenched hands or whatever and learn to do what works for you - taking slow deep breaths, counting to 10 (or 1,000! ;) ) - whatever helps.

Someone here on CAF started this anger management group which has been helpful to me: forums.catholic.com/group.php?groupid=675

It'll probably take time to get a longstanding anger habit under control but it does feel better in those moments when you realize "Wow. Used to be I would've gotten really mad and yelled at that person, but this time I was able to stay calm." :thumbsup:


#3

You can control anger. Try to calm yourself. Ask yourself, "How will this behavior be of any use to me? Or you can also consult a counselor in this matter.
Counseling New York


#4

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