How To Take Control Of Anger Before It Takes Control Of You
Updated: Mar 31, 2019
Some time ago, I played volleyball with a group that included a father and his six-year-old son. The boy became angry because he wasn’t getting the ball and began to scream at his father. Soon the father had to hold up his hand to deflect the boy’s physical attack. The child eventually shouted, “I quit!” and ran away.
But he soon returned riding a bicycle aimed at his dad. The father dodged the boy’s attempt to run him over and seemed to tolerate his son’s outburst as a normal and acceptable display of anger.
One Christian writer stated “The giant step in overcoming anger is to face it squarely as sin in most cases.”
One person accepts anger as normal and acceptable, while the other views it as sin.
What do you think?
The Bible seems to warn us against anger, for example in Psalm 37:8: “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath.”
However, the “anger of the Lord” is mentioned many times throughout the Old Testament. And we know that the sinless Lord Jesus experienced anger when he drove out the moneychangers from the temple (see Matthew 21:12-13).
So it is sinful or OK?
The answer is that righteous indignation (like God’s) is acceptable, but selfish and unrestrained anger is harmful and sinful.
The problem is that most of our anger isn’t godly righteous indignation. It is simply our temper when we don’t get what we want when we want it.
What is the solution? With the Lord’s help and preparation we can learn to control this emotion and keep it from controlling us.
Here are some guidelines to help us control our anger so it doesn’t control us:
Ignore Petty Irritations
Some things are too small to bother with. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).
We must decide to let them slide.
A good rule of thumb is found in Ephesians 4:26 (NIV) “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Let stuff go. However, if you are still upset by the end of the day, speak up and make an attempt to resolve it and forgive.
Always Think before Speaking
Take time to think and plan out your confrontation or conversation.
Use tact and speak to the person in private.
Refrain from saying accusatory “You” statements. Instead, start with an “I” message. For example:
“I have a problem, could you help me?”“I am having a hard time with….”
Stick to the Issue
Bring up one issue at a time and stick to the point.
Don’t get historical.
We may have a list of wrongs but we actually delay resolving the matter if we deviate from the topic and bring up multiple issues.
Take a few deep breaths. Act cool even if you are hot. “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” (Proverbs 15:1a)
There is a place for emotion, but anger is rarely the place.
Staying calm helps us to be objective. Ask God to help you determine if there is something that you have done to contribute to the problem.
Make a Sandwich
Affirm positive areas first and last by “making a sandwich.”
First, a slice of bread that disarms with a sincere compliment; “I really appreciate….”Insert the meat of the discussion; “But there is something I would like your help with…”Then complete with another slice of bread; “There are so many things I am grateful for in our relationship…”
This sandwich approach helps create receptivity and finishes a difficult conversation with kindness and affirmation. It creates an atmosphere for a positive response.
Spouses and family members must be careful about words like, “I give up,” “divorce,” “separate” and “leaving.” Threatening words like these can cause great damage to marriages and families. They should not be used except under extreme circumstances such as abuse or adultery.
When Red Hot, Delay
When you are red hot with anger, do like Thomas Jefferson suggested in his “Rules for Living:”
“When angry count to ten before you speak, if very angry, a hundred.”
Proverbs 14:29 says, “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick tempered man displays his folly.”
Do whatever it takes to help you maintain control over anger. Pray before you respond. Go for a walk. Count to a million!
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
“What a shame, yes, how stupid to decide before knowing the facts.” (Proverbs 18:3)
Make sure to have the correct facts. Searching out the details may prevent a confrontation or mistaken assumption.
God calls us to forgive just as He forgave us. His forgiveness was so great that Jesus laid down His life for us. In dying on the cross He forgave every sin that we have ever committed, if we receive His forgiveness. See how to receive Christ’s forgiveness HERE.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
God is able to forgive and heal you. He can help you to forgive others.