Note – due to technical issues, there was no quote post this week.
Anger Management – Introduction
Anger is an honest emotion and, when we find ourselves angry, we should acknowledge the emotion rather than trying to bury it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Anger, in and of itself, is not bad. It’s how we respond to those feelings that make the difference. No matter who we are, rich, poor, young, old, black, yellow, green, or purple – we could all benefit from Anger Management.
“Anger is poison. You must purge it from your mind or else it will corrupt your better nature.”
~Christopher Paolini, Brisingr
JOKE: There was an elderly woman preparing to park her expensive Cadillac when a young high school student cut her off and stole her parking place.
The young man jumped out of his car and shouted ” OH, TO BE YOUNG AND FAST “. The older lady backed her car up, then floored it and started using it for a battering ram to demolish the young man’s car. She then rolled down her window and shouted, ” OH, TO BE OLD AND RICH.”
Let’s face it…at times, we all struggle with anger. And, if not controlled, anger leads behavior with devastating results. In the United States, the Department of Justice statistics show that:
Over 2 million women are assaulted by men each year*
Between 1 and 4 million people are physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend*
- 21% of women assaulted knew the perpetrator as either a husband or intimate partner*
- 2% of violent crime experienced by men is commited by a wife or intimate partner*
- 31% of women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives*
- More than 6 million children are abused every year**
- 4 women die each day as a result of abuse*
- 4-7 children die each day as a result of abuse and neglect**
The people who commit these assaults and abuse are not bad people. They simply have never learned how to control their anger. Now, admittedly, most of us don’t let our anger get so out of control that our behavior reaches these levels. But, our behavior as a result of anger still has negative consequences – both to the subject of our anger, and to ourselves.
According to the Better Health Channel***:
Some of the short and long-term health problems that have been linked to unmanaged anger include:
- digestion problems, such as abdominal pain
- increased anxiety
- high blood pressure
- skin problems, such as eczema
- heart attack
We don’t truly wish to harm others, and we don’t want to harm ourselves, so obviously it’s in everyone’s best interest to exercise Anger Management.
There is a time and a place to get angry however, we must learn how and when to control it. We know, of course, that Jesus instructs us to love God and to love others. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that getting angry is wrong. Let’s take a look at one of the best known verses – 1 Corinthians 13. Verse 5 tells love is “…not easily angered…” Notice Paul doesn’t say “love does not get angry.” He says love is not easily angered. We can’t always avoid anger, or pretend that it doesn’t exist, but we can learn how to manage and control it.
Let’s take a look at 6 ways we can exercise Anger Management:
I. COMMIT TO CONTROLLING IT
Scripture warns us that uncontrolled anger produces negative results. Proverbs 29:22 says: “A hot-tempered man starts fights and gets into all kinds of trouble.”
I was having a conversation with someone who made the statement, “she made me so angry.” Think about this for a moment. Can I make you love me? No…it’s an emotional response within you. So is anger. No one can make you angry. Situations or events occur, and your body responds with anger. But, you have the choice in how you respond to that emotion.
One of the ways we can begin to control our temper is to make a commitment to control it. Many people who have problems with their anger make excuses. They say, “I just can’t control myself.” However, that’s simply not true. We can control our anger, but we must make a commitment to doing it. What we think determines how we act. Remember, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our thoughts become our reality. If we’re serious about controlling our anger, we can start by not making excuses. Instead of saying, “I can’t control it” or “I can’t help myself,” start thinking and affirming, “I can control my anger.”
When we allow the actions, words, or behaviors of others to “make us angry,” and we lay the blame for our anger on them, we also give them control and power over us. Let’s begin by making a commitment to ourselves that, when we begin to have feelings of anger, we will stop, take a moment, and purposely choose our response. This way, we control the anger – it doesn’t control us.
II. COUNT THE COST
All of our actions, good or bad, have consequences – a price tag. When we let our anger get the best of us, it can have disastrous consequences, and carry a very high price.
Scripture reminds us that there’s always a price to our anger:
- Proverbs 11:29 – “He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind.”
- Proverbs 14:17 – “A quick-tempered man does foolish things.”
- Proverbs 14:29 – “A quick-tempered man displays folly.”
- Proverbs 15:18 – “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension.”
- Proverbs 29:22 – “A hot-tempered man commits many sins.”
And it’s that high price that can motivate us to change. If we continue to allow our temper to control us, we wreak havoc on those around us, we destroy relationships, we cause harm to others, and we cause harm to ourselves. So, before responding to a situation from a point of anger, we should stop and count the cost. Notice, the word “danger” is “anger” with a “d” in front of it.
Anger can be very dangerous – to others, and to ourselves. If uncontrolled, we could hurt others, lose the ones we love, lose our jobs, lose our freedom, and lose our health – all by losing our temper.
III. THINK RATHER THAN THROW MY TANTRUM
Ever notice a child in a store who doesn’t get what he wants, when he wants it? What does he do? He throws a tantrum. Lacking the ability to think things through, he acts impulsively. We, however, are not children. We have the ability to think rather than throw a tantrum. In other words, don’t respond impulsively.
Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger (shouts in anger), but a wise man keeps himself under control (holds his temper in and cools it.”
Basically, a wise man knows how to chill out. How do we keep ourselves under control? By taking a moment to stop and think. Just as we might do with a child acting on impulse, we can give ourselves a time-out. Acting on impulse almost always ends badly. President Thomas Jefferson who said, “When you get angry, count to ten. When you are really angry, count to a hundred.” He pretty much said, “take a time out.”
When we take that moment, we exercise patience. Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience.” The writer is telling us to try to understand our anger.
When anger comes into our lives, before responding, we should ask ourselves:
- why am I angry? And if I express that anger, number two,
- what will happen?
- will the expression of my anger really resolve the issue?
Why am I angry? Anger is never the root problem. It is merely a symptom of something else going on. There is obviously something wrong. Anger is a symptom telling us that one of three things is happening in your life – hurt, fear or frustration. When we’re angry, we need to ask ourselves which of these three things is causing me to be angry.
IV. COMMUNICATE MY ANGER CORRECTLY
I said before that anger, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. It’s how we allow that anger to be expressed that can become an issue. Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “In your anger do not sin.” This verse implies that there is a way to become angry and not sin. There are right, or appropriate, ways to get angry and there are wrong, or inappropriate, ways. In addition to studying Scripture, prayer, and meditation, there are many books available to help with Anger Management. One is The Language of Love by Gary Smaley. Another is Make Anger Your Ally by Neil Warren. Both of these books deal with expressing anger in positive ways.
Yelling, screaming obscenities, and violence are completely inappropriate ways of communicating our anger. They rarely bring resolution, and more often create more problems.
A friend of mine told a story of a fight she was having with her husband. As tensions flared, things got loud, and pretty mean. All of a sudden he simply stopped and, when she took a breath, he asked her, “Can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” she said. He asked, “What is more important to you…being right, or our relationship?” She thought for a moment and realized, of course, that her relationship with her husband was more important than anything else – she was simply not getting what she wanted and she was throwing a tantrum. When she calmed down, they were able to discuss the issue and bring it to a mutually agreeable resolution. In essence, he reminded her to take a moment and count the cost. When she did, she realized the cost of her anger, of her getting her way, at the risk of jeopardizing her relationship with her husband, was simply too high. She realized she was, in reality, throwing a tantrum; and she wasn’t communicating her feelings in an appropriate way.
V. RETRAIN MY MIND
Getting back to “as a man thinks, so is he,” Romans 12:2 reminds us to, “. . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When we decide to follow the Christian path, we must allow the Holy Spirit to transform us. We can promise not lose our temper all day long and it won’t make a difference unless we make a conscious effort to change how we think and how we behave.
This ties very closely to making that commitment. How we act is determined by how feel, and how we feel is determined by how we think. If we want to change the way you act, then we must change the way you feel. If we want to change the way we feel, then you must change the way you think. Changing our thoughts changes how we feel which, in turn, changes the way we act. But it must be a conscious decision – we must first retrain our minds.
In his book, “Make Anger Your Ally,” Neil Warren encourages people to sit down and write a letter to themselves. In that letter they should write down a word picture that is an ideal response to anger. He says, “Think of the thing or things that make you angry. And then write out how you would really like to respond.” He then asks you to ask yourself, “Do I enjoy getting angry?” “Does it produce the intended results when I get angry?” “Could I get the intended results in a more effective way?” “What could I do differently?” Ask yourself these questions. What would I like to do as an ideal response to that situation?
He then suggests that you read it aloud to yourself once a week for six months. You may even want to insert some of the Scripture passages from today into your letter. Let your words and the words of Scripture change and transform your mind.
VI. ASSOCIATE WITH PEOPLE WHO MANAGE THEIR ANGER WELL
Question: Is anger contagious? Of course it is. Love is contagious, laughter is contagious, and so is anger. Can you become infected by someone else’s anger? Absolutely! Think of what’s called the “mob mentality.” One person gets loud and angry, then two, then four, and so on until the entire mob is out of control. The writer of Proverbs reminds us to choose our friends wisely.
Proverbs 22:24 tells us, “…Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”
If we are serious about changing a habit of inappropriate anger, then we need to start “fellowshipping” with friends who know how to manage their anger.
That can be one of the benefits of the church. When we spend time with others who manage their anger well, we will also learn the skills to manage ours.
There’s a beautiful song by Barbra Streisand called “Children will Listen.” It reminds us, “careful what you say, children will listen; careful what you do, children will see.” Whatever we say or do, we are teaching our children – and others around us.
All anger, or more appropriately, all actions and behaviors driven by anger, are learned. But they can also be unlearned. We’re surrounded by images and examples of inappropriate responses to anger – just watch TV or the news. And those images shape our thoughts and our understanding. Choosing to surround ourselves with others who manage their anger will help to balance out those images of inappropriate responses.
We all get angry. It’s a normal emotional response. And anger is not necessarily bad. But, left uncontrolled, anger, as our quote says, becomes poison. It can infect not only us, but those around us. But no one else can make us angry. Events or situations occur, our bodies and minds respond with the emotion of anger. But it remains our choice as to how we allow that anger to manifest. Rather than blame others, we must accept responsibility for our behaviors and our actions. We may not be able to control the thoughts, words, or actions of others; but we are 100% in control of how we choose to respond to them. And we don’t have to go it alone. The power of Jesus can help us to transform, if we take the steps necessary and if we lean on Him.
Let us Pray…
- Proverbs 11:29
- Proverbs 14:17
- Proverbs 14:29
- Proverbs 15:18
- Proverbs 29:22
- Proverbs 29:11
- Proverbs 19:11
- Ephesians 4:26
- Romans 12:2
- Proverbs 22:24
I like to acknowledge and thank Pastor Jim Mooney for his sermon on Christian Love on Sermon Central for his thoughts, many of which are referenced above. Click the link below to read his sermon.****
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