My rewards for almost ten years spent as an anger management instructor: I unlearned some destructive habits and learned new, healthier ways to express my own anger. All of this was taking place while I was teaching others about their anger! Funny how that works. The same thing is true as we teach and guide the children in our lives: sometimes we learn as much as they do.
An idea that changed my whole outlook
One particular insight, found in The Anger Workbook, catalyzed my paradigm shift:
My most important lesson — Anger is the emotion of self-preservation, given to us by God.
As a child I thought my parents were teaching me to get rid of anger, so I grew up suppressing it: “Who me? Angry?” So it was hard to accept that anger might serve an important purpose. Much later in life, through the testimonials of my adult students, I saw that they got angry most often when they were ignored or mistreated. It was part of their defense system.
Doing some self-reflection, I owned the fact that I hated when my personal boundaries were violated. Slowly I admitted that anger could be a way to preserve my personal worth, basic needs and basic beliefs.
Anger is designed to protect me!
As I began to own more and more of my angry feelings whenever I felt demeaned or disrespected, I was on my way to greater emotional health. Now I can honestly say:
- When my personal worth is not validated, I feel angry.
- If I make known my needs and they are ignored, I feel hurt.
- At times when I take an unwavering stand for my convictions (sometimes publicly, sometimes just in my most cherished relationships) and I speak up about them and I am misunderstood, I feel resentful.
It’s all about what I do next after my anger flares up.
I’m still learning that it’s my choice how I will react to my anger. Will I do a passive-aggressive maneuver as I have in the past? Will I take the easy way and suppress it?
Or maybe I will talk about what’s bothering me, but do it considering the needs and feelings of the other person. I was shocked to find that this approach actually helps my relationships grow.
Tweetable: Anger is the emotion of self-preservation but it matters–a lot–what we do next after it flares up. Click to Tweet
My new book, Child-centered Spirituality: Helping children develop their own spirituality, is now available on Amazon!
Where did Grandma go when she died?
Why doesn’t God stop bad things from happening?
Many parents have experienced a child asking difficult spiritual questions– usually at inopportune moments. While we stumble around trying to think of an answer, we feel inadequate… and sometimes startled by their questions. If you’re like most adults, you try your hardest to avoid thinking much about questions like these. So why on earth is a child asking you about them?
We talk with our children about the importance of school work, about physical health, about how to navigate social difficulties. We even talk with them about sex, drugs, and internet safety… or if we don’t, we know we should.
So why do we find it so difficult to talk with children about God?
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, foster parent, or other caregiver, this is a book to help you engage with the children in your life about their spiritual needs.