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Managing Anger

Let me begin by affirming that God wants all to live a happy and productive live, and will help you in this endeavor. In 2 Peter 1:3-6 we read: “As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life…and by that same mighty power, He has given us all of His rich and wonderful promises…so make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life…”

Controlling your anger is an important skill, as it impacts happiness, relationships, employment, and health. Studies show that for every one hour you are extremely angry, your life is shortened by one day. Unfortunately, most know from experience that Solomon’s warning (found in Proverbs 29:22) is true: “A hot-tempered man…gets into all kinds of trouble.”

What follows are five suggestions to help in the area of anger management:

1. Remember, there are consequences to losing your temper. This is easier to write than to live. In the heat of an argument, the foolish tend to think in the moment__whereas, the wise think ahead to the ramifications and consequences.

Be cognizant of your triggers. Remember that “Hot tempers cause arguments,”[1]  and  giving  free  reign  to  your  anger  is seldom beneficial. Solomon said, “The fool gives free reign to his anger; a wise man waits, and lets it grow cool.”[2]

Think things through. Remember that when you lose your temper, you lose. When things get tense, take a breath, take a step back. Keep in mind that those who stay calm are better positioned to direct the conversation in a way that is positive and productive.

2. ‘Major on the majors and minor on the minors.’ This means one should ignore much of the snipes, rude comments, ‘smack,’ and non-constructive criticism that comes their way. It can be difficult, but try to let these things be as water off a duck’s back. Proverbs 19:11 notes “…When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it.” The bigger person will walk away. The wise know that to ignore is to safeguard their goals and future.

Here is a truism: What you allow yourself to get upset about shows the depth of your character and the level of your maturity. Nothing can make you mad. It is a choice__a choice that can have dyer consequences.  

3. Restrain your remarks. It is not necessary (and seldom beneficial) to express all that is on your mind (or do what you would like to do, or can do).  Proverbs 21:23 advises: “If you want to stay out of trouble, be careful what you say [and do].”

Approaching this counsel from another angel, Proverbs 16:23 reads: “Intelligent people think before they speak.”  Reflect before you react. The actions and words of those who do are more likely to lead to a positive outcome.

4. Don’t let things simmer. Many times, outbursts are the result of tension that has been brewing for some time. Think of a soda can__a slight movement or little shake invites few problems. But when the can is shaken or agitated, there can be big trouble. And the more agitated the can, the greater the potential problem when the can is opened.

The moral of the story__try not to shake the can. And remember, not to open the can when it is agitated. As a practical matter, this also means to deal with potential problems sooner than later. Don’t let stress or ill-will build up. Tell folks when your feelings are hurt and when you have concerns. Have a thick skin, but in your closer relationships, if something is said or done that upsets you__tactfully let that person know. Don’t be accusatory, but let them know that you value the friendship and believe that similar words or actions in the future may negatively impact the relationship.

5. Be able to walk away. Arguments, confrontations, threats, and aggressive encounters can happen almost any place and at any time. Beware. Decide now how you will react. Be ready to walk away. Winning a fight is NOT worth going back to prison. Those with felony records often lose in court when having to fight an assault charge. Walk away.  And this principle applies to tense but not intense encounters. If an argument is brewing, politely say something such as, “I think it would be good to pause this conversation for a bit. Let’s discuss this when emotions  cool down and we’ve had some time to think about what we really want to say.” 

Storming out is bad__but stepping back, temporarily, or stepping away from a volatile situation, is often a mark of wisdom. Taking strategic pauses can help you manage your anger, so your emotions do not get the best of you.

Here is an ANGER MANAGEMENT video teaching by Gary Ray:

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[1]        Proverbs 15:18

[2]        Proverbs 29:11

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