What Do You Do With the Mad?

It would be a dream job for anyone to have a truly supportive boss, and co-workers where everyone gets along. So often however, that kind of reverie isn’t a reality. More often it is just the opposite. Take Michael for instance, who found himself increasingly angry at his boss, though unsure as to why. One day he caught himself readying to snap at him. Fortunately he remembered to Pause before he did. But what then?

People often ask me: “what do you do with the mad?”

It’s a great question.

What DO we do with the mad when we are mad?

First it is crucial to become aware of whatever it is you are feeling and name it–in this case, mad.

I find that most people – even me at times – have a hard time admitting that they are mad. It’s like it is bad to be mad. We may be put out, miffed, irritated, or even frustrated, but mad? No way.

So first we must admit what is going on inside of us and name it for what it is. This gives us the ability to deal with it accurately.

Admit it. Name it. You are mad.


Sort out the why.

What was going on in you, around you, and between you and others the moment you were about to lash out? Have you experienced the same feelings other times in similar situations with the same people or others? What happened that caused the mad feelings to erupt? It is crucial to be able to explain the why, first to yourself.

Take a pen and paper and write out the answers to the above questions. Writing helps us sort out what is going on inside. It also anchors our thinking so we can go back and reflect on what we have come to understand.

After writing out the answers, re-read what you wrote to see if you need to clarify or add anything that might be missing.

Reflect on what you wrote. Does it make sense to you? Does it help explain why you were mad? If not, go back once again to think and write more on the questions above. Continue working on this step, until you can sit back and say to yourself: “OK. That makes sense now. I can see why I was mad.” This is very important. It validates that you were mad and why. You were not crazy. There were reasons you felt the way you did. It also brings clarity to what happened and what you need to address in your mind or with others.

Only after you sort out the why to the mad feelings, will you be ready to consider what to do with the mad.

If you are a follower of Christ, take time to reflect, talk to God about the why behind your mad, and then listen. Maybe the idea of forgiveness comes to mind. Maybe He reminds you how patient He is with you, and wants you to show the same kind of patience with another. Maybe on the other hand, you sense God nudging you to talk about your mad and why. This becomes much easier if you have already written out the reasons you are mad–as in the exercise above.

Maybe God reminds you of the verse in the Bible that says: “Speak the truth–in love” (Ephesians 4:15). God gives you courage to speak out but also coaches you to do it in the most loving way possible. Keep in mind Philippians 2:3 where it says: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” When we speak with another about our being mad–we must regard them highly, even more important than ourselves! That implies that we show restraint and respect in the way we relate. We tell the truth–we have been angered at what has taken place–but we tell them with respect, to show honor and to love.

If you are not a follower of Christ, you might still come up with similar ideas when reflecting on what to do with your mad. Think: what would LOVE do with anger like you have? What would you want someone to do with you, if they were mad at you? How would you want them to approach you telling you they are mad?

Then proceed. Take whatever action seems to be in line with truth, love, and approaching others with high regard.

By way of summary, consider one further interesting note: if you look closely at the steps above, you will see that they fall in line with the steps of PLEDGEtalk. When processing your mad or any other emotions, you are basically practicing the use of PLEDGEtalk with yourself. See example of being mad below:

You become aware of being out of sorts so:

  1. You (Pause) to stop and anchor your thinking by writing out what is the reason(s) you are mad;
  2. You (Listen) by re-reading what you wrote to clarify any points or add anything missing;
  3. You (Echo) by reflecting on what was written;
  4. You (Disarm) by affirming/validating why you were feeling the way you were;
  5. You (Give) God or LOVE time to speak back to you what you need to learn, hear, and see–even from another perspective;
  6. You (Engage) by using all that you have written and learned about your situation from God and/or LOVE to enable you to move forward in your relationships and to address issues/concerns in good ways.

The next time you feel out of sorts, don’t react. Take a few minutes instead to work the PLEDGEtalk steps with yourself and learn what to do with your mad!

What questions do you have about the process above? Leave your comments below.

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Big Announcement!

Today we are launching PLEDGEtalk, a how-to for when communication really matters!

For the past 6 years, Zerrin and I have been teaching the Madly In Love Marriage Conference. Through learning PLEDGE, couples have learned how to communicate well and process conflict in a way that brings them back to love.

During our conferences we have been asked many times: can we use this with our kids? Can I use PLEDGE in my work place? Will this work between my friend and I?

With great excitement, we declared YES! It will in fact work in all relationships!

Beyond the questions, we began hearing stories of people who were using PLEDGE as a family, or teaching children in their classroom, or using it with their team at work. A mom shared how her kids are learning to talk through their conflict at the early age of 8 and 6! A politician spoke of how he is using it with his constituents. Teen-agers replied to their parents, saying: “does this mean we don’t have to yell and fight anymore as a family?” A man told us how it had made a significant difference in conference meetings at work.

With great anticipation, we began to see a larger impact to be had in teaching the concepts of PLEDGE.

After much discussion, reflection, and prayer, PLEDGEtalk was birthed!

It is our mission to teach people in all walks of life how to communicate well when it really matters.

Whether in normal conversation or tense situations, there is a way–a right way–to communicate. It deepens and heals relationships. That’s PLEDGEtalk.

We will continue to teach this to couples and seek to be a blessing to marriages.

But now we can share PLEDGEtalk with marriages AND families.

In a church, we can speak to entire congregations! We can also go into the workplace where we will teach and train teams how to better their relationships with PLEDGEtalk and be more productive.

Thank you for your interest in learning how to love well in the way you communicate and resolve conflicts!

Mark Oelze

Author:  The PLEDGE Of A Lifetime

Creator of PLEDGEtalk