One of the most significant problems with anger is when an angry person escalates it until it gets out of control. This happens in families, in relationships, in the workplace and certainly in the streets. Raging anger can lead to long-term destruction: the drive to seek revenge, to fuel ongoing anger, or to find ways to keep someone from moving on. It is very difficult to stop the effects of escalating anger. It requires a commitment.
Healing from raging anger
In order to stop the destructive emotions and behaviors that accompany raging anger there must be a commitment to find a way to forgive the person that has angered you.
Forgiveness is an essential element of helping bring true relief and healing to anger.
In the article, The Cognitive and Emotive Uses of Forgiveness in the Treatment of Anger, author Richard Fitzgibbons uses a dictionary definition of forgiveness:
“a process of ceasing to feel resentment against someone or to pardon someone.”
He further explains that two major steps are involved in the process of forgiveness. One is to decide intellectually to forgive and then, the other is, over time, emotionally to experience forgiveness.
What the process of forgiveness means
In this process, there needs to be a choice to release the resentment, hatred, bitterness, contempt and any intention to take revenge. There must be a realization with understanding that “getting even” does not heal any person or any situation. Only releasing or letting go of the feelings and beliefs of anger brings us freedom to heal and an ability to move on.
Forgiveness does not mean that someone condones the anger and problem behavior, nor does it mean that someone will forget what happened. Further, a clear distinction should be made between forgiveness and trust. Just because you forgive someone, it does not mean that you will trust them or entrust yourself to them.
Rebuilding relational integrity and trust is required in order for the relationship to be restored, and if it is to occur, it can be a very long and intentional process.
What if forgiveness does not occur?
Individuals who do not forgive often are the ones who end up with emotional damage.
If anger is not addressed or repressed, it can harm relationships and continue to debilitate the person who is harboring the anger. In his book From Anger to Forgiveness, Arthur E. Larson describes six expressions of anger that are repressed: depression, smoldering rage, fidgeting, keeping secrets, playing the role of victim and switching addictions. Repressed anger often leads to further resentment.
The destructive nature of anger and its ensuing emotional impact is not only damaging to those who are the objects of anger but also to the one who is angry.
A choice worth making
Choosing to forgive is often hard to do, but it is the healthier choice that can allow both parties to find relief and release. The power of forgiveness does transcend the impact and affect of anger. It is the most healthy way to respond to and resolve situations of anger.
When we choose forgiveness, we are making the healthy choice to no longer be a victim to anger and let go of spiraling angry emotions. What a better choice for living a healthy life!
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Some information taken from Understanding Anger, 2004, Diane Wagenhals.