We got a puppy.
Last month we decided to find a sweet puppy because we are just dog people. Our first baby, Dakota, we’d had for 13 years and lost him on New Year’s Day. So very soon afterwards we began the search and found this little angel.
Yep, she’s adorable.
But even as I type this morning, I’m about ready to lose my mind with her. I woke up early to write, while it’s quiet, and nobody’s up because it’s Spring Break. This angel decided to wake up before the sun, which of course she never does on a school day, and just pitched a whiny FIT when I tried to get her to go back to sleep, and has been a total puppy spaz since 6am. I’ve been racing around the house desperately trying to keep her quiet so she doesn’t wake up the kids, and all I want to do is write!
Seriously I just want to write, why can’t I just write?!
After about the 6th time of getting up to let her out to pee again, my word, I got back to my computer, began to see through the fog, and realized how rapidly my heart was pounding with my frustration…as I’m writing about “why do we get so mad?”. Right.
We all have moments like that, don’t we? Moments that are as benign as a dog that’s interrupting your morning, to being frustrated at your co-workers, to arguing with your spouse. We all experience these, and we all get frustrated. But where we get into trouble is when these moments turn into patterns that begin to take root and take over. When these moments turn into patterns, our default becomes anger, until we find ourselves years down the road, constantly consumed in an emotion that was never intended to have so much power.
What are your triggers? What typically sets you off? Because what I’ve found, is there are certain events, or people or circumstances that can usually cause me to get frustrated. What are those for you? Maybe they look like this:
- Your traffic-filled drive to work
- Your co-worker’s attitude
- Your finances
- Your family dynamics
- Your mom’s input on your life or parenting
- Your children’s decisions
- Your spouse’s schedule
- How the decisions of others are now affecting you
These circumstances can set off a whole host of emotions in us, often times leading to anger. But what I want to suggest is that anger is often times a secondary emotion. Often times anger is a result of another primary emotion. Here are a few possible primary emotions that lead to anger, you can probably think of more:
FEAR – We get afraid of a person or a circumstance, which turns into anger. A great example of this was a few years back we were with my in-laws at the Grand Canyon. My mother-in-law is deathly afraid of heights so it was all she could do to even get near the edge. She was so afraid someone would plummet off the side, she walked slowly and intentionally everywhere we went. So…being the sweet daughter-in-law I am…I decided to mess with her a little bit and loudly slid my foot along the gravel making it sound like I was slipping……oh, not wise, I got an initial look from her of complete terror, immediately followed by daggers of death. She was not pleased AT ALL and it took a while for her to not be mad at me. Her primary emotion was fear, but it quickly turned to anger. (She does still love me, thankfully, and has since forgiven me.)
One year we were with a group of friends at Havasupai Falls, Mooney Falls specifically. Everyone was climbing to the bottom, which was not an easy hike, straight down with only the help of these ridiculously rickety wooden steps and chain hand-holds. I was gripped in fear, my knees were shaking, and tears were beginning to come. My husband did everything he could to encourage me, but I totally turned on him because suddenly he was to blame for all the horrors of my life – the steepness of the climb, for not telling me it would be this bad (he swears he did), and for dragging me there in the first place. My primary emotion was fear, but it turned into anger, which was pretty intense towards my man. Oh, we were both pretty happy when that climb was over.
HURT – Think of the last time someone hurt your feelings, you felt misunderstood or embarrassed. Your first reaction was one of hurt, which most likely turned into anger towards that person. Maybe your co-worker embarrassed you or discredited your work in front of others. Maybe your sister is pregnant and she’s going to take the boy name you’ve had picked out since you were 14 (totally happened to a friend of mine). The initial emotion is one of deep hurt, but it turns into anger, doesn’t it?
DISAPPOINTMENT – I think this is a biggee for us. We get disappointed when our plans don’t go according to our expectations. Expectations are HUGE in our lives ~ we anticipate how a date night will work out, how a planned birthday party will go, how a vacation will be. We plan and we anticipate and we hope and expect things to work out. But plans change or people happen and our day turn into something different than we expected, and we are so disappointed. Disappointment that quickly turns to anger.
My husband and I were overwhelmed with disappointment at the length of the adoption process for our boys. We anticipated nine months which turned into two years. We regularly battled frustration towards so many things, from the immigration red tape, to the Haitian government policies, to at times, if I’m honest, God. Why couldn’t He make all this go so much differently?
Expectations are huge, aren’t they? Expectations are played out in so many ways:
- Type A personalities work a plan and put systems into place
- Type Not-A personalities expect others to go with the flow
- Moms expect their kids to obey
- We expect our parents to parent us in a certain way
- We expect God to respond to our lives in a particular way
And when these expectations are not met, we often default into anger.
So what sets your anger into motion?
Here’s something to think about today:
#1 – What prompts you to get angry?
#2 – (And this one is even more important) ~ WHY has that become a trigger? What about that causes you to get mad? Is it because you’re hurt? Or maybe certain expectations have not been met? “WHY” is such a great question for us to ask and can often open us up to what is really going on underneath.
The “WHY” question has been huge for me, allowing me space to take a step back to analyze, instead of panicking to take a step forward into action. Because what I found is that by racing forward to fix the situation or my angry response, I began to find myself in “sin-mangement”, instead of being truly transformed from the inside out. More on that later this week…
I’d love to hear from you. Let’s bring this out into the Light, right? I have heard from so many of you that have said you struggle with this, and how it’s been a stronghold for so long. Let us hear from you, and let’s hold each other up as we seek to be healed up and set free.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 ESV