By Jennifer Davis
The world has the view that anger isn”t really that big of a deal, but it can be a downfall and weakness for even good people.
“Why is the world so nonchalant about anger?” asked JeaNette G. Smith, a marriage and family therapist.
Perhaps because in the Sermon on the Mount it says not to be angry at thy brethren “without a cause.” That little clause may lead some to believe it is OK to get angry if someone deserves it, but determining what a just cause for anger may be impossible, Smith said.
The Book of Mormon version of the Sermon on the Mount does not have the clause, and the context clearly shows one must never get angry at all, she said. The higher law to not get angry shows how the Lord wants his children to control their thoughts and feelings, not just the control of their behavior, which is the lower Law of Moses.
“Our task is to have our dispositions changed,” she said.
As a therapist, she said it may seem ironic that she gives a lecture on how to not let out anger, but she does help one recognize how anger is just a secondary emotion and is caused by a primary emotion. The primary emotions may be guilt, shame, disillusionment, discouragement or sadness and anger is used to cover up these feelings and is the feeling expressed.
“Go to the appropriate emotion and deal with that,” she said. “I”m not saying to hold your anger in, I”m just saying to look for a more appropriate emotion.”
Anger not only has an emotional impact, but also a physiologic impact. When someone gets angry, their body responds with red faces, a quickened pulse or tightened muscles and the urge to let it out right away. One does not want to sit and ponder when they are angry.
“One of the reasons we want to avoid anger is because when you are angry, you act impulsively and say things you wouldn”t say when you are in control and do things you wouldn”t do if you were in control,” she said.
Another reason to avoid anger is because the spirit of the Lord cannot dwell with an angry person, she said. It is important to recognize that the Lord”s anger is different from a person”s anger. The Lord does not act out of control or out of hostility or resentment.
Also, as mortals it is impossible to know the whole story to justify anger.
“So often we really don”t know enough about the situation to be angry and if we did, we probably wouldn”t be angry,” Smith said.
However, if chastisement is done in control and love it is different from anger.
“There are times when we can chastise, but I don”t think those times of chastising happen when you are angry,” Smith said.
It is not an easy thing to avoid getting angry, but there are a few things that help. Having unrealistic expectations for people or situations leads to frustration and anger.
“The truth of the matter is bad things are going to happen, just plan on it,” she said. “Recognize that children are going to be children, husbands are going to be husbands and clerks at Target are going to be clerks at Target. Don”t be totally shocked when things don”t go the way you want.”
Also, jumping to the conclusion that people do things with the intent to hurt can be harmful. Holding judgment as to why someone did something wrong never leads to regret if judgment was placed incorrectly. Also, if someone did do something to spite and judgment was withheld, it allows the person in the wrong to have introspection instead of arguing about it and putting the blame on the angry person.
“If you hold your judgment, you”re never the bad guy which allows introspection,” she said.
Pausing to recognize the underline emotion to anger can also be very effective.