Friday, April 6, 2012

Anger Can Lead to Sin

Recently my husband and I have been discussing anger. Anger is a secondary emotion. That is, anger is not an emotion we usually feel just because we are "angry". Think about the last time you were angry. Why were you angry? Did someone do something that hurt you? Were you embarrassed? Were you afraid of something?

Think of a father who is angry with his son or daughter for breaking curfew. There are a few "primary" emotions he might be feeling. One is fear - he is afraid of what might happen to his child if he or she stays out past curfew.
Another is hurt - he may be hurt that his child disobeyed the house rules. This hurt can be a prideful hurt ("I'm the dad, I make the rules and you are going to follow them!") or it can be a humble hurt ("I know the spiritual consequences of disobedience and I thought she knew them, too.")

In 2 Nephi 5:2, Nephi explains that the anger his brothers felt "did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life."

We have to be careful how we deal with our emotions. Anger is almost never the right method of dealing with our emotions. Laman and Lemuel were likely hurt because their brother was more righteous than they were and therefore had more authority than they did. But rather than dealing with their hurt feelings (which were actually caused by pride, rather than by genuine concern for Nephi) constructively, they allowed anger to grow in their hearts until they wanted to kill Nephi.

Now, I am not saying that letting yourself get angry is going to lead you to commit murder, but how many times have you let your anger with your children lead you to yelling or spanking or "unrighteous dominion"? (I only ask because I am very guilty of this)

Also, how often do you see a child get angry and hit or bite or yell or push, etc? I am not saying these children are sinning, because children are innocent until the age of accountability, however, chances are that child is not really angry. The child is most likely hurt, or confused, or hungry, or tired, or afraid. Little children don't always understand how to deal with those emotions; and so they become "angry". It is our job as their parents to teach them how to deal with hard emotions.

And we all know the best teaching tool is our own example.

How do you effectively deal with your primary emotions? Has anger ever led you to sin? What primary emotion most often leads to anger for you?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Anger is a way of controlling others. And it works for a lot of people which is subconsiously why they do it, plus it is an easy way out. It gives them the immediate result sometimes,and it is easier than really communicating or reaching out to solve problems in an effective manner. Is it contrary to say that I hate anger? ; )

    1. I would say that anger can be used as a way of controlling anger. Most of the time when we act out in anger it is because we don't actually know how to deal with the primary emotions we are feeling. This is true with children especially, and it can even be true with adults (sometimes I don't know how to deal with my feelings of frustration and discouragement as a wife and mother, and so I act out in anger toward my children and spouse - either by yelling, saying mean things, etc - I am not necessarily trying to control them - at least not consciously - I am trying to express my emotions of frustration and discouragement, but I don't know how, and that inability to express the primary emotion leads to anger).

      I think that as we teach our children (and learn ourselves) how to effectively deal with our primary emotions (fear, hurt, frustration, discouragement, etc) we can avoid becoming angry.

      I will agree that some use anger to control others - but most of the time anger is simply a human response to an inability to deal with those primary emotions. A child who acts out in anger toward his/her mother/father/sibling is usually not explicitly trying to control mother/father/sibling. They are usually trying to figure out how to deal with the emotion they are feeling - which emotions usually come from an unmet need (lack of attention from parent, feeling "crowded" by a sibling, etc).

      For example, my good friend is staying with me while her husband is gone for 6 months. Their 2 1/2 year old little boy misses his dad - he especially misses wrestling with his dad. He didn't tell us this. We had to figure it out by realizing that when he is so angry that he starts hitting/punching/yelling/screaming/biting he is really expressing to us that he misses his dad and he needs someone to tumble around with him on the floor. After a few minutes of good wrestling, he is happy as can be.

      I don't think adults are much different than that two year old. In my own marriage I have learned that when my husband gets angry he is actually hurt or scared. That has really helped our relationship, because rather than shying away and hiding when he is angry (thinking that he hates me) I can say, "What is it that you are really feeling?" and because he is an adult, he can usually stop and think about it and realize that the anger is not the primary emotion, and there is something behind it - and once we address that, his anger usually goes away.

  2. I just wrote about this myself and I agree completely. When I was a teen my mother discovered the truth that anger is a secondary emotion and it was so exciting to her that she taught it all the time. It's also a habit, which is as hard as any other to overcome, and sometimes takes generations to purge. So important to connect anger to sin, because the Savior does. I know that's hard for people dealing with things that hurt very deeply and for whom anger seems such a necessary part of healing (and many therapists teach this.) I've always found it distracting from deeper healings, preventing them or just making them take longer. Thanks for this post.

  3. I feel the same way and loved President uchtdorf's talk at conference where he touched in this topic m. Yes it is focused more on forgiveness but he talked of the underlying feelings that can lead to anger and the need to forvive.

  4. You know this REALLY hits home for me today as I have been feeling a whole range of emotions today regarding a certain issue. We were so impressed with President Uchtdorf's talk at conference that we have been watching it almost every day. It really hit home for us as my husband's family is so completely fractured, there is virtually no communication and what there is isn't positive. So I've been thinking about it a lot and its funny because even though there has been so many obnoxious things that have happened forgiveness isn't really an issue for me. His advice about "stop it" then "forgive" basically move on and rebuild is what I've been thinking about. I do have a lot of anger over the whole situation though and I think that it stems from dissapointment, that and being protective. Its hard to explain but my husband's sisters both completely hate him, and me, the mysterious part is we don't know why. I had come to the conclusion that there were some other factors going in involving imbalances and insanity based on certain things that had happened and had been said. I know that these are not things that an individual can control so I figured you can't hold something against someone that they can't control. As time has gone on though I am not so sure. I think my anger about the entire thing comes from the utter disappointment that they are. Its hard for me to comprehend why siblings can't just get along and be a family, its a gift from the Lord and to play stupid games with it seems ridiculous. That is what we have though so I think that is where the dissapointment comes in and that is related to the anger. This is particularly relevant to me today because I found out that these two sisters FINALLY reconciled with my Mother in law which is wonderful. She says that is as far as they are going. Again this leads to more disapointment how can you only follow a commandment just half way? It is a vicious cycle anger. I know we aren't discussing President Uchtdorf's talk today but it all related to me. What to you do when a family is so fractured that there is no more communication at all?

  5. I am really glad you posted this. I agree with you. I need to be more aware of this with myself and as a parent.

    To answer your question, there are two primary things that lead to anger for me. The first is being hungry. The second is being hurt. The number one thing I took away from conference was that feelings of hurt drive the spirit away the same as feelings of anger or hatred (Elder Holland's and Elder Uchtdorf's talks). I need to learn to deal with those hurt feelings more productively.

    My husband does a really good job at controlling his emotions. I have learned a lot from him. One thing that I have picked up from him -- when he stubs his toe or hits his finger, he stops and takes a big breath. There is never any kind of outburst. Before getting married, I would be likely to scream ouch or darn it. Maybe it's a little thing, but that is something I feel like I am doing pretty well at because of his example. Now if I could just be better when it comes to other kinds of anger.... My husband has only raised his voice at me a few times in 6 years of marriage, and every time he apologized immediately. I could say the same about him as a parent to our two daughters. I wish I could say the same....

    Anyways, thanks for your thoughts.

    1. So, a while ago I read this post by Chococatania about making new habits, and I decided that I was going to follow her example, and I was so inspired by your comment that I made my first habit I am going to make to be stopping and taking a deep breath instead of having an outburst in the moment. Your husband inspired me.

      Thanks for your comment!

  6. what primary emotion leads to anger?
    Overall, I'm not a super angry person. I may get snippy. Or mopey. Often these responses come when I'm physically tired. I have endometriosis which causes me a lot of pain. Even though the pain isn't always intense, it is nagging, and I find that I get snippy and short. Even though this isn't classic anger, I feel like it is contentious and drives the spirit away immediately.

    I have felt my blood boil, though...and that was when I was betrayed and lied to. Anger was a secondary reaction to a mash-up of emotions: pain, betrayal, embarrassment, and hurt. I don't like being made a fool. That makes me angry. Not a good reaction, but it is what happens.

    Has anger ever led you to sin?
    Yes, unfortunately.

    How do you effectively deal with your primary emotions?
    I'm not always the best at this, but one thing I've been trying to do lately is to pray. Prayer is like a "time-out". Prayer requires humility and patience. Often, when I pray, I'm comforted but also gently chastised. I'm given advice that I need. Even if I'm being hurt by another, I'm tutored in how to be more Christ-like. The advice varies, but I've never been justified, in a prayer, for acting in a way that promotes contention! Prayer really helps.

    Anyways - love the post!

    1. I love that - "prayer is like a time out" I completely agree. It's hard to act out in anger when we are prayerful. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Thank you for this! I am working on anger issues that I imbibed from my father, watching his explosions as a child, and have recently realised that I need to stop making excuses and just repent. Repentance is the gateway to peace!


What makes your soul delight? This is my invitation to you to share your thoughts right here on my blog. I read every one of them, and I appreciate them!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...