“It may seem that the second fit of anger does away with the first, but actually it serves to open the way for fresh anger…” St. Francis de Sales
In 1998, a study was conducted at the University of Michigan to find out if what you think affects how angry you become.
Dividing subjects into two groups, the researcher first had them all think of a recent angry experience. She then instructed one group to continue to think about the event, recalling as many details as possible. The members of the second group were instructed to distract from the angry memory. The end result was that the group that continued to think about the angry incident became angrier. The group that used distraction became less angry.
The more you think about what you are angry about the angrier you get. By the way, the same experiment was done to study depressed feelings and the same result occurred.
Distracting from the negative feelings in our lives is difficult, especially if we are clinically depressed but that is precisely the work of therapy and a spiritual discipline. The above statement by St. Francis de Sales was part of his advice to someone he was directing. He said further on, look to God rather than our crosses. His protégé St. Jane Frances de Chantal gave the same advice to her sisters. She called it detachment, a part of the road to holiness.
Do not put yourself in any more pain regarding your pain… never reflect on it or think how to express yourself about it… look to God…
Sources: Lyubomirsky and S. Nolen-Hoeksema, “Self-Perpetuating Properties of Dysphoric Rumination,” Journal of personality and social Psychology 65 (1993): 339-49.
Rusting and S. Nolen-Hoeksema, “Regulating Responses to Anger: Effects of Rumination and Distraction on Angry Mood,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (1998): 790-803.
A Simple Life: Wisdom from Jane Frances de Chantal; Classic Wisdom Collection. Edited with a Forward by Kathryn Hermes, FSP Pauline Books and Media, 2011, p. 68.
Let Yourself Be Loved. by Phillip Bennett, Paulist Press, p. 56.
Picture: by James Chan, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.