So my husband and I have gotten hooked on a CW show called "Supergirl." On the episode we were watching, Supergirl is exposed to red kryptonite which brings out her darkest, meanest, and angriest self. She threatens the life of her controlling and self-centered boss, lashes out at her foster sister for always hovering over her, puts down the ex-girlfriend of her crush, and terrorizes the city with her wrath. In sum, our hero turns into a villain and loses the trust of the city she worked so hard to attain because of her anger!
Although we can rest assured knowing that we will never be exposed to this fictitious "red kryptonite," we all have triggers that bring out the worst in us. For many of us, these triggers come from people in our lives who push our buttons, put salt in our wounds, and make us feel worthless whether intentional or not. For others, our "red kryptonite" is when we feel like we deserve something that other people seem to have. Whatever the cause, anger in its most basic form comes from being hurt- hurt by another person or hurt from a particularly trying situation, and it is when we are able to name the source of our hurt that healing can truly begin.
When Supergirl was finally cured from the red kryptonite poison, she became deeply aware of all the dark feelings she had bottled up inside. Through this horrendous experience, she realized that she felt underappreciated at work, overprotected by her foster sister, jealous of her crush's ex-girlfriend, and overwhelmed with the daily challenge of saving peoples' lives. She knew that the rage brought on by the red kryptonite, although chemically induced, stemmed from real, negative feelings that she never dealt with.
What are some of the negative feelings you carry? How do you address them? Do you bottle them up inside and ignore them until it all comes out to the surface when you are exposed to your triggers or "red kryptonite"?
Having anger is not a bad thing, it's what you do with it
Anger like all of the emotions is a feeling that is beyond our control. We can not stop ourselves from feeling angry, we can only control what we do with it. As illuminated through the story of Supergirl, bottling up our feelings and ignoring them have detrimental consequences. We have to deal with them, and the sooner we do it, the better we'll be. Fortunately for us, our beloved Church gives us a myriad of ways to cope with our anger.
Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Yes, I am all too aware that you may be thinking, "But Carrell, it is I who is hurt!! I'm the victim! Why should I go to Confession?" Simply put- because we all play a role in the brokenness of this world. None of us are perfect, and when we recognize our own need for forgiveness, we can be more compassionate and patient towards the people and situations that have hurt us.
Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
The divine mercy chaplet is a beautiful prayer that I pray often especially when I'm angry. It reminds me of how desperately I am in need of God's mercy for my poor soul that continues to fail Him during moments of weakness. Most importantly, this prayer encourages me to be merciful towards those who have mistreated or hurt me. If I desire God's mercy and receive it, then I am being called to extend that same mercy to those who have angered me. Yes, it will take time. Yes, it will be hard, but the more we pray for God's help in becoming more merciful, the more receptive we become to His grace. Little by little, He will move that boulder in front of our hearts, and when it is finally removed, the anger that once controlled it will be no more. We will truly be free of its hold, and we will finally be at a place where we can truly forgive our enemies.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
Holding onto our anger only poisons us and does nothing to the person or situation that has hurt us. Think about a time when you held onto your anger. How did it feel? Many times, the anger ends up eating away at us. It distracts us from work and from fostering relationships with other people. We often accidentally lash out at others who have nothing to do with the cause of our anger, and sometimes, we even lose sleep and our health over it! Our enemies may not even know we're angry at them, and so, while we are here stewing away, they are off living their lives.
God does not want this for us. He wants to give us peace, and He wants so desperately to free us from the hold our anger has on us. Through prayer, God will reveal to you what you are called to do or say regarding the situation or person that has been angering you. You may sense that God is calling you to be vulnerable and share with this person how you have been feeling. God may be calling you to quit your job or remove yourself from the unhealthy situation. Each situation is different which is why your response to the anger burning up inside you is dependent on what God tells you in prayer. Share with God what you are angry about, and then, listen. He wants to free you from the anger that consumes you, but first, you have to give Him permission to take it.
May we be slow to anger, and generous in extending the mercy God shows us to others!