There are lots of things for us to be angry about, but new research shows we often don’t do anything about it.
A new study out of Carnegie Mellon University reveals that we typically become angry about two types of injustices. First, when a bad thing happens to a good person and second when a good thing happens to a “bad” person despite their bad behavior.
In the first instance—such as when a natural disaster devastates a town—the research shows that we have a desire to help, but usually only in a nominal way. Dr. Jeffrey Galak, an associate professor of marketing in the university’s Tepper School of Business states, “When a hurricane happens, we want to help, but we give them 10 bucks. We don’t try to build them a new house.”
While donating $10 can be meaningful and helpful, our reaction to this type of injustice usually does not result in action on a grander or more effective scale.
Likewise, when we react to the second type of injustice—when a good thing happens to bad people—the research demonstrates that more often than not we don’t do anything at all. According to Dr. Galak, “That’s because people often feel that the forces at play in creating the unfair situation are beyond their control, or would at least be too personally costly to make the effort worthwhile.”
So how do we use our anger to take action in a way that leads to effective change?
1. Take it to God—First and foremost, take your anger to God. Tell Him how you are feeling and even what you would like to do about the situation. Then listen. Allow God to direct your response in a way that glorifies Him and leads to an appropriate response to the circumstance.
2. Address your concerns. If you have a problem with someone—a problem that is causing you to view that individual as a bad person—it is best to address your concerns with that person in a respectful and clear way. Be honest with the individual—but not blaming—about your feelings. Share with them what you need to heal and feel supported. Moreover, it is best to talk through small problems before they become big problems.
3. Don’t let your anger consume you. When you are feeling overwhelmed by anger make an effort to focus on the blessings in your life. Make a list of three things you are grateful for each day and thank God for those happy blessings.