Righteous Anger

Righteous Anger

Righteous Anger

Is Anger ever the right response? Is it possible that the “right” expression of anger, used in the “right” circumstances serves a purpose? Is it possible for anger to be expressed consciously? Jesus was certainly enlightened and conscious, and he became angry. Flipping over tables in the temple, rebuking Peter, and calling the Pharisees hypocrites are a few examples. Are we enlightened and conscious enough to use righteous anger in a productive manner?

Anger Begets Anger

A husband becomes angry with his wife after she is caught lying about her impulsive and out-of- control shopping and spending which is threatening their financial future. The husband has been patient, understanding and supportive up until now. After the husband reviews the facts about the spending, and the financial implications to their family, he begins to outline the consequences of her behavior. In a raised voice he states her actions have changed their relationship. He can no longer trust her, particularly with money. He then sets boundaries and outlines the steps he will take to separate their credit and finances. The wife in-turn becomes angry and defiant and accuses the husband of being controlling, stingy and harsh.

Anger : The Slippery Slope of Emotions

Anger can be a slippery slope because Anger often begets Anger. That does not mean it is wrong, it just means that you should be prepared to accept these consequences. The expression of Righteous Anger can result in a person finally hearing and recognizing the consequences of their actions. However, shame, resentment, defense are common reactions. So, if you must use anger to be heard, be prepared for the emotions that anger may illicit. Jesus probably did not make new friends at the temple after turning over the tables. Also be sure of the motivation for your anger. If you are angry because your ego has been threatened or challenged, then pull back. Acting with anger is probably not the right response. Instead, take a deep breath and a step back. If your anger is about you, it is not righteous. If you act in anger because something bigger than you is under attack, exploited, cheated etc. perhaps using anger productively might be the emotional response that gets through, that is heard, and helps a person to realize the consequences of their actions.

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2 Comments

  • evanhadkins

    I think being angry about being attacked (i.e. when it is about me) can be righteous.

    I think it is important for the anger to be about contact with the other person; being able to listen and meet the other person (or situation more generally). When this happens then I think the relationship may be able to move forward.

    • Diane Chrestman

      You make a very good point Evan. When the anger is about a situation “generally” and not personally, it seems more conscious. And yes, and then relationships might move forward.

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