288. Toxic Venting

288. Toxic Venting

When people get angry about someone or a situation, they search for people to vent. They think if they let it out, they will feel better. To a certain degree, that is true.

But when we start doing that to too many people, especially to friends who tend to take our side without fully knowing the other side of the story, it stops being helpful. Because when enough people agree with the reason for our anger, we begin to feel justified for feeling angry and don’t search for a solution.

Anger therapy, like punching a sandbag that has your enemy’s face, has been shown to not stop anger, but multiplies it. Because anger is fundamentally a symptom of our underlying thoughts. Unless we deal with the thoughts, expressing or venting doesn’t help. If we are honest, the majority of our anger comes from a flawed sense of fairness, misunderstanding and unidentified intentions of others.

Anger points out two things: Something is wrong with others, and also something is wrong with us. So, when we focus too much on what is wrong with others, we forget that there is something wrong with us as well. If approached correctly, anger is an invitation to review the pattern and quality of our thoughts.

In the Book of Genesis, there is a story of “Cain”. Cain had a brother named Abel. They both offered sacrifice to God, but God only accepted the one from Abel, not Cain. Cain felt wronged by God and was furious. God asked him, “why are you angry?” And God warned him that he better control it before it consumes him. Refusing to look at “why” he is angry, Cain ended up killing his brother.

Because church is full of different people, there will be many instances when you feel wronged. Share it with one or two trusted mentor or friends and stop at that. Sharing it with more people will only make you feel overly justified, and distort others’ view of the situation or people, possibly causing division.

As helpless as it may feel, anger can be controlled. When we bring our thoughts to God in prayer, and ask God to share his, which are not only very different from ours, but higher than ours (Isa 55:8-9), we begin to see our blindspots. As we surrender our thoughts to conform to his, we begin to bring anger under our control.