I thought I would attempt to answer a couple questions today. How does a highly sensitive person react in the presence of anger and do highly sensitive people become angry? Oh, yeah! We feel anger just like everyone else. However, we tend to express it in understated ways; many times people are not aware that we are even angry! We tend to be quiet people, so we express anger quietly...but it is still there. I have found that if I am to be heard and taken seriously I have to up my volumn several notches. Then most of the time people say I am responding appropriately. It feels to me that I am yelling at people.
And other people are so loud!! I want people to dampen their decibles about 10 notches for me to be comfortable--especially in church! Worship music is so loud these days that I carry a pair of ear plugs--no kidding! Before I got the ear plugs I would have to sit there with my fingers in my ears. And I didn't care who saw. Am I getting old when I no longer care about appearances? I have thought that this whole thing with worship bands was probably started by a bunch of old hippies who had blown out their ear drums with loud music! Volume is my soap box--I can't stand loud anything!
But back to anger...it is a God-given emotion that signals that something is wrong. It is just a signal to alert your mind that something just happened that needs attention--that's all it is. In our families of origin we learn to associate that feeling (signal) with certain responses that are deemed "acceptable" in our particular family. Some families clam up or use humor to distract and nothing is ever resolved. Some keep lists of wrongs and nurse their resentments. In some families it is okay for Dad to rage, but don't let anyone else try that. When kids leave home or when they become a parent they suddenly surprised to find they have an anger problem. Then there are variations on those themes across the spectrum, but woe to the highly sensitive child who senses the seething anger beneath the calm exterior. Even more woe if he has the unfortuante lack of wisdom to ask what is the matter! Generally sensitive kids become little sponges soaking up expressed and unexpressed angers of family members. Lacking any model of discharging burdens, they stuff it until capacity is reached and they vomit out the anger...and the cycle begins again. Sigh.
Sensitive people tend to respond to others' anger by...
- Exiting the charged environment--escape
- Shutting down emotionally and shutting up
- Try to pacify the angry one
- Being a peacemaker without regard to self (The child who does this forfeits his childhood.)
- Stuffing absorbed emotion and exploding later
Sensitive people respond to their own anger by...
- Beating up on themselves--do to themselves what others have done
- Engage in negative self-talk
- Assume the problem is their own--they are crazy, they misunderstood...ad nauseum
- Intentionally avoiding confrontation
- How do you react to your own anger?
I've been mulling this for some time, asking God why He designed us with such a powerful emotion with such potential for harm. After He designed mankind, He said, "That's good!" I have to conclude that anger is a good thing. I believe it is when used rightly. Good anger alerts us to a hurt, a wrong, an injustice that needs to be corrected. If a wrong or injustice is righted, that is good. In fact, scripture says, "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" God loves justice. So, how does God want us to respond to anger? Oh, or is it that we are to respond to anger rather than in anger, which shuts down rational thinking.
What is God's protocol for "using" anger rather than abusing others or ourselves with it?
- Be angry and sin not i.e., validate the emotion, but then check the accuracy. Own our part, even if it is miniscule. We do not sin if we are correcting assessing a situation and conclude that yes, a wrong has been done. God agrees. We sin when we usurp God's role and move into condemnation.
- If you are giving a gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift. Work it out. It is so important to God that He is willing to wait for your worship until this is cleared up.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
These are my mullings that have floated to the top; please share your insights on anger so we can fill out our picture of how to do anger without sin! Hope to hear from you.
Oh, and before you go, don't forget about leaving your name and email address for the drawing: one set of books. Either the burden bearing set, The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity, and Highly Sensitive, OR Sassy Pants and Sassy Pants Makes Amends. You can find more about burden bearing at www.fromgodsheart.com and about the Sassy Pants books at http://sassypantsco.blogspot.com
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