I like to think of anger as the normal human response to injustice. It’s the way we’re supposed to feel inside when something is unfair. It’s healthy, because it helps us to see what we can do to correct the injustice, and then it motivates us to do it. After we have taken action, the anger is supposed to go away, so we can forgive and relax and sleep like a baby.
Using anger this way I call staying in the fairway. It’s the way to make things fair. To go experience too little or too much anger is rough on us and others, so I call this going into the rough.
The rough on the left is too little anger, where nothing gets corrected. You just push the anger down into the subconscious where it eats you alive and becomes something like paranoia, insomnia or an ulcer. Or it may come out sideways as you snap at innocent loved ones, who naturally pull back from you.
The rough on the right is taking the law into your own hands, and using your anger to humiliate or get even with the unfair party. Mean or vengeful words or actions always come back to haunt us sooner or later. Getting even starts a long, downwardly spiraling chain of events that is likely to degrade all parties involved. The worst thing is that the injustice is never really identified or corrected, just added to.
Perhaps you’re in the rough right now about something. You have been for quite awhile, and you’re tired of it. You’re probably trying the best you know how to correct a loved one (or a hated one), and it’s not helping. Well here’s a little way to change your attitude and turn things around. It’s a prayer or meditation in four steps: REJOICE, RELEASE, HOPE, and HELP.
Ask God (or your higher power) to have no mercy, and to just wear out your enemy’s backside. "Make ____ so miserable they will feel the pain they have caused others." The positive purpose of this prayer is that it gets a lot of hatred out of your system, so it doesn’t get spoken or acted out on human beings who either don’t deserve it or won’t forgive you for it.
To get it off your chest, it really helps to believe there is a God who is big and personal enough take this anger. Jews and Christians have been encouraged to pray like this by Psalms 35 and 109. Once you feel a bit relieved of your hatred by sending it up toward the sky, you will be more ready for the second prayer.
Let God be God, and teach you the best solution for all concerned. "God, do whatever you can to make things right. If you prefer a softer way to turn my enemy’s heart and life around, and to restore the love of life to me and my enemy’s other victims, do whatever you need to do." This begins to neutralize the acid that’s still in your stomach.
This even more positive prayer turns neutralized acid into good will. Once you’ve said the release prayers hard and often enough, you will feel you mean it. Then you can pray, "Lord, if there’s a way for you to bring love, joy, peace, wisdom and true courage into my enemy’s heart, to turn that life around into a good life, help me imagine it. Help me want to help you make it happen."
This last step gets you back involved again in your enemy’s life, to help answer the prayer of step 3, and to correct the underlying cause for the injustice. If you spend enough time in the third prayer, you will be able to go to the last one: "God if there’s anything I can do to help you bring good things into this person’s life, please show me. Give me the ability, the desire and the opportunity to convey your blessing to this person." Wait for your sanctified imagination to show you what to do, how it will help, and to give you the desire to go ahead.
In conclusion, anger is an acid in your mind, heart and stomach that is meant to inspire action to dissolve injustice. This 4-step prayer gets you out of the rough of too much or too little anger, and focuses you on correcting the problem. I hope that your prayers of rejoicing, releasing, hoping and helping can get you, your anger and perhaps even your enemy out of the rough and back into the fairway.
Dr. Paul Schmidt is a psychologist life coach you can reach at [email protected], (502) 633-2860.