Anger. It’s just one letter away from DANGER. This is no coincidence! We leave people wounded in the wake of our resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness because we are angry. And most of us have been wounded by the actions or words of someone else’s anger toward us. Let’s face it. We can be mean. We can say and do some pretty mean things. One day we call someone our best friend, and the next, we want nothing to do with them. We get married and vow a lifelong partnership through thick and thin, and when things get rough, instead of working through those times, we want out. How many siblings do you know who haven’t spoken to one another in years or decades? And don’t get me started about churches and church people!
When we perceive someone has crossed lines that offend and wound us, our human nature sets up what we unconsciously believe are self-protective behaviors.
But the Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. (Eph 4:26) What in the world does that really mean and how do we really live that way? We must learn to control ourselves even in the face of anger. It’s really okay to be angry. But there’s a way to be angry that protects others and ourselves from the ugly aftermath of unrestrained anger and from the kind of wounding anger that destroys relationships. Remember, there is one that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. (John 10:10) We need to learn some things so he is rendered incapable of putting his foot in the door of those relationships that should be so precious to us.
To simplify, here are some anger management do’s and don’t.
Do confront the person you’re angry with. In person is best, but if that’s not possible, Skype or call on the phone.
Don’t text! Texts are a major player in misunderstandings as it is. This isn’t the time to chance a further issue.
Do confront the person soon after the incident. "Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph 4:26) is solid biblical advice that’s meant to help us deal with situations before our flaky minds make them worse than they really are.
Don’t wait and let your anger turn into bitterness and resentment. (Eph 4:31)
Do get the counsel of a good accountable, mature friend who will help you work through your anger without taking sides.
Don’t call everyone who you think will side with you against the person you’re angry with and tell them your version of the truth.
Do wait until you’re calm. Wait until you can control your outward reactions and your inner responses.
Don’t confront them while you’re seething and your head is reeling. Take a walk. Walking reduces stress and gives you a chance to think more clearly.
Do use “I” statements. “I was hurt when…” “I felt angry when…” or even, “I’m angry that…”
Do not use statements like “You always…” or “You never…”
Do be assertive, yet respecting the feelings of the other person. Confront in love, and be open to understanding how the other person sees the situation.
Don’t be defensive, aggressive, cynical, critical, or hostile, demanding the other person see things your way. Even if they don’t, your responsibility is to keep your head about you.
Do keep your voice as calm as possible.
Don’t yell or talk over the other person when they are talking. If you don’t like what they’re saying or how they’re saying it, allow them to speak and then give your rebuttal as calmly as you can.
Being honest and confronting the situation may not resolve the rift between you and the other person, especially if they are not able to implement some of these ideas. Remember, you are only responsible for you and your reactions and responses. If you’ve done all you know to do and there’s no resolution, you may need a mediator to help. Sometimes the date on a relationship has expired, and it’s time to move on. Do all you can to do so without bitterness and resentment. Those things will not effect the other person half as much as they’ll effect you. Forgiveness is a must. But that’s another blog and this one’s long enough.
If you know that you have a continual issue with anger, you may need to seek the guidance of a godly, professional counselor who will help you deal with this issue in your life. That being said, there are things all of us can do to help manage our own anger.
First, know your triggers. What things do you find that specifically bring your anger temperature from normal to boiling in a flash of a second? For me, if someone lies about me or someone I care about, that could set me off very quickly. What is it for you?
Second, what are three things that can help you to immediately take control of your anger? For me, a long walk in a park, listening to good worship music, or vigorous cleaning helps. Some other ideas may be exercising, calling someone who you can speak about your emotions but will remain impartial, deep breathing, reading a book, window shopping, or taking a drive. Insert your own ideas here…
Learning to deal with anger is a part of life. Unresolved, anger can cause an open, festering wound that never heals, or it can actually become beneficial, helping us to mature as we learn to deal with it in more healthy ways.