Three “A’s” of Anger
Surviving infidelity would be impossible without understanding all the emotions that go with it. One of the most potent, as well as lingering and unstable emotions, is anger. Infidelity strikes us where it hurts the most, deep down in our heart and soul. And when a person suffers from such deep wounds, many other emotions result. Anger is really just a response to another sentiment. Is anger management truly necessary to surviving infidelity?
Can you really overcome such a volatile emotion? There are three basic responses to anger. I’ve labeled each one with a word that begins with the letter “A” to help you remember what each of these are. The two most common responses are also the wrong responses.
Let’s try to picture your anger as something tangible. Think of a hand grenade.
Here is an example of the ATTACK response.
When you pull the pin and throw the hand grenade, it is going to explode on impact. The damage will go outwards in many directions and cause damage to many people.
You know exactly what this looks like because if you haven’t been guilty of it before, you’ve been the victim of somebody else’s explosion. Often people will vent their anger by yelling, throwing tantrums or physically hitting something or somebody. It’s ugly, not to mention dangerous. The results are usually immediate and great. And unfortunately, these responses bring no lasting relief from the pain that caused the anger.
Next is the AVOID response.
Imagine pulling the pin on a grenade but then swallowing it. You may think you’re acting like the war hero that throws himself on a grenade to protect his comrades. While you believe you deserve the purple heart for being so valiant and shielding others from your outburst, you are only postponing the inevitable.
The gunpowder inside your stomach is starting to dissolve into your nervous system. It is slowing poisoning you with cynicism, depression, passive aggression and self-righteous judgment. The damage is only internal at this point but it eventually has to come out because that is human nature. It may not come out as anger towards others, but your self-pity and disparagement will be expressed to others and begin to affect not just your mental and physical health, but all of your relationships as well.
With avoidance, the damages are gradual but just as dreadful as the attack response. Your insides grow more toxic every day until you are no longer capable of living a normal life. This poison will begin to affect every thought you have and your thoughts will affect your behavior.
Third, is the ASSESS response.
The only way to really get a handle on anger is by assessing it. Let’s put the hand grenade on the table and describe it. This may seem like a fanatical and senseless exercise but it actually requires far more self-control than either of the other responses. Set the grenade down and take a closer look at it. Don’t pull the pin, as you know that will set off a chain of events that lead to lethal results. Make sure you are calm before you start identifying what has caused your anger.
Picture each speck of gunpowder inside the grenade as one of your emotions. The more comprehensive you can be at naming the root emotions, the better. Your list might include disappointment at your mate’s betrayal, disgust at his infidelity, sorrow that your marriage will never be the same, rejection because your mate chose somebody else, fear because you don’t know what’s going to happen next, anxiety about how you might be left alone to raise your children, embarrassment when you face family and friends, etc. The more detailed your list, the more competent you will be to make decisions based on logical reason and Biblical responses, not passionate emotions.
In summary, anger is not created in a vacuum.
It is a complex emotion derived from many other feelings. There are three basic responses to anger. Attack, avoid and assess. When you attack, the damage is immediate and wrong. When you avoid, the damage is gradual but still wrong. When you assess the root causes of anger, you can address those emotions individually and eliminate any relational damage to others.