Why So Angry?

“He is such an angry person” says one coworker to the other about Bob. You see people fear Bob. Bob flairs up with seemingly little provocation. If he perceives that his boss criticizes him he will lash out. If someone disagrees with Bob he takes it as disrespect. Disrespect must be dealt with immediately and aggressively. That way people will understand that you can’t get away with that. People will respect you if you yell at them; sometimes you have to crack them in head. You should expect to “get what you got comin" if you disrespect Bob.


So why is Bob so volatile? Assuming Bob does not have a mental diagnosis there would two main reasons. One is that Bob has been taught and/or developed belief systems that support and justify his behavior. For more on that be sure to look for our upcoming article on belief systems.


The other reason which is closely connected to the first and the focus of this article would be physiological occurrences in the brain that lead to aggressive behavior.


In the brain there is a normal response to threats that is known as the fight or flight response. This process is intended to give us an edge when we are faced with danger. If, while walking down the side walk, we encounter a snarling, growling dog that comes bursting forth from behind a hedge the brain is designed to immediately go into self preservation mode by releasing endorphins and adrenaline into the body and other areas of the brain. Senses become sharp, heart rate and breathing increase sending increased oxygen throughout the body.


While this process is God’s design for our response to imminent threat, the human brain can become conditioned to respond similarly to situations that are not an imminent threat. Because anger can trigger many of the same mechanisms that a threat does we may become violent in our anger.


Eph 4:26 says Be ye angry, and sin not”  How do we accomplish that command to use that God given mechanism with out sinning?


Before we answer that let’s look a little closer at Bob’s life. 


When Bob was fourteen months old he watched his father push the buttons on the big thing where the colorful animals talked and Elmo sang to him. When dad pushed those buttons something would happen to the big thing, it became different.  Bob’s young mind lacked the capacity to understand any thing more than the concept that the pushing of the buttons has an effect, an effect that he could control. So Bob would push the buttons himself and make the big thing change.


In the Brain of Bob’s dad a neural pathway has been developed and refined with time and repetition that would carry the commands to push buttons and make desired changes in the TV. If Bob’s dad did not like the current program, that pathway allowed him to take an action that would lead to a desired outcome. Over time it became an action with out conscience thought.  Watching his daddy perform this action that same pathway became blazed in Bob’s brain as well and with time, practice, and observation Bob eventually duplicated Dad’s ability to perfection.


When Bob was five he watched his dad beat up another man, he can still remember that day, the sounds, the smells, the emotions. The fear, the heart racing as he watched the two men exchange blows and issue profane insults. Bob never forgot the bloody beaten man lying on the ground. He also never forgot the words his dad issued forth, “THAT WILL TEACH YOU NOT TO RIP PEOPLE OFF”. He still remembers the conversations his dad had with uncles and other friends. How they talked about how the guy had it coming, how he should have paid the money he owed.


Another time Bob watched his dad fight a man because the man called him a name. He remembers the cursing, the expressions of rage on dad’s face as he beat the man down. Later as his dad bought him ice cream the “wisdom” of his father was etched in his mind forever as he proclaimed “son, don’t let no man dis’ you, you hear me?”


Just as the concept and ability of making the channels on the TV change, the neural pathway to respond with volience to situations where Bob feels indignant, insulted, or wronged in some way was etched in to his brain.


A week later a boy in the neighborhood called Bob a name, heeding to his Dad’s advice Bob beat the boy up. The neural path created by watching his dad fight was now becoming refined and honed as Bob now practiced this action himself.


As the memories became stored in the brain every nuance and every emotion was stored as well. Now as an adult when ever someone says something Bob does not like or when conflict arises, memories buried deep in the lower function areas of the brain rise to the top of the brain where higher reasoning takes place.  These memories are not are not stored with a differential in time, as such these memories, although years old, come up in a present tense context. With these memories come the emotional tags and bodily reactions, increased heart rate and respiration, profanity and increased tone of voice comes forth, the fists become clenched. The areas of the brain wired for threat (fight or flight) are inappropriately activated and the fight is on. Just as changing the stations on the TV have become an unconscience and automatic response to an undesired program so has the response to anger become, automaticly and with out thought, agressive and violent.


So does this mean that Bob is a hopeless case? No! But it will take a commitment to change on his part, a reevaluation of his belief systems, and a retraining of the mind. It has been said that one can never truly unlearn a behavior. From a scientific view point that would be true. Neuropath ways can not be removed. They can be broken only by damage to the brain caused by physical trauma or prolonged heavy drug use, not exactly the preferred therapy by most clinicians.


However we can forge new pathways by learning and making alternative choices.

Ro 12:2 says And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”


The renewing of the mind is essential to anyone who desires to change aberrant behaviors in their life. The Apostle Paul not only presented this prescription to the church in Rome but also to the church in Ephesus


Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation(behavior) the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.


The Church in Corinth in 2 Cor 4:16 and the church in Colossae Col 3:10  also received this Godly advise.


When we retrain our minds the old habits sometimes can attempt to bubble up. The continual renewing of our minds and the practice of positive and assertive responses to situations that displease or make us angry will forge prominent pathways that will get stronger and easier to follow so long as we make that conscience choice.


I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.

                                                                                  Psalm 119:30

 To see if there is an anger management or aggressive intervention program near you, or if you have a question about anger and agression email  jforbes@hopeintervention.com

  July 2018  
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