5 Easy Tips for Controlling your Anger
The ugly side of anger. Sometimes I feel like I suffer alone with many things that I don't think anyone else can understand, appreciate or not misjudge me for. I feel like some things are better left unsaid or unwritten lest they cause more strife than relief. I remember reading how Maya Angelou never spoke for five years, after disclosing to her uncle who attacked her and her uncle then murdered him. She went instantly silent because in her mind she felt that her words had brought about his death. She never spoke again until the age of thirteen.
My words may not have brought about physical death before, but sometimes I feel, especially when 'overcome' with anger, like my words have the power to kill blessings, situations, livelihoods, relationships, peace and my future. Especially when I feel angry with my children and with my husband. This should be no surprise though since the Bible likens the tongue to a tiny spark that can consume an entire forest if left untamed. Even though the Bible also speaks of the word of God being sharper than a double-edged sword dividing bone and marrow etc, my words sometimes feel like a weapon of mass destruction.
And then on the contrary, if I remain silent and hold my tongue, I feel like something inside me is slowly dying; creeping gently under my skin and patiently snuffing the life out of me. Dramatic, I know. Then what do I do if death waits for me on both sides?
I struggle with this inner turmoil often and most times feel like I've run out of options so I just sit and suffer through it on my own. Sometimes I just accept my fate and sit still, while other times my emotions get the better of me and the words spit out the worst of me and the damage is done. Then these words come:
No temptation has overcome you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Through it all, I've realised that my mind likes to play tricks on me as well as others to make us believe that we have been cornered with limited options and there is no way out. Well, there is always a way out once we have the vision of mind to see it.
In times of rage, it requires so much less strength to fight than not to fight, especially when you believe that you have every right to flatten your opponent to the ground. My mother once shared with me that growing up, she had no patience for talking sometimes, she would just fight and cut to the chase! I totally understand her now. It's just so much easier not to hold back anything! There is so much more energy and inner fortitude you need to walk away from a clear hands-down, flatten-face, release and free-fall into your opponent's face. It requires SO much more inner strength than outer strength, but His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, so His strength already lies within us, right?
So I started the Love Dare challenge for my marriage that should have lasted 40 days for anyone who knows it (if not, I can share it). I really was putting my all into it, very determined and well-visioned and planned out, but I think it lasted no more than 7 days...collectively. Anyhow, I realised why afterwards, but that's too much to share now. Not long after, something else started coming to me that I felt suited me better. So I penned it down and I'm sharing it here (at the risk of being exposed!).
I call these help tips EXTREME ANGER STRATEGIC EXITS (EASE). My husband keeps telling me to just take it eeeeeeasy, which is the most annoying thing he could say when HE has upset me, but moving on, that's the irony here I guess. This is just a simple guide for me on What to do and What not to do when caught in these fistful moments of weakness. I hope someone else finds it helpful and it can help your marriage and hopefully save your sanity:
Exit 1: Obey the signs
I remember once, I wanted to go somewhere that I knew I had no place being and the rain started to fall. That didn't deter me, I still set out anyway. The rain started falling heavily. I didn't turn back. On the road to get to where I was going, water started rising. I still drove through, but slowly. I reached where I was going and got a phone call that should've made me turn back, but it didn't. I didn't. In retrospect, I realised that I was as determined as I was disobedient, but there was a sign every step of the way that I blatantly and purposeful disregarded.
So the point here is to try and avoid situations that can trigger your anger as best as you can and take heed to the signs that try to steer you in the right direction, instead of choosing the path of disobedience to continue full-speed ahead and fuel your anger.
Exit 2: Don't take the bait
Say you're having a discussion, and the other person is constantly bringing up your dark past or present weakness or moments of failure. Although your blood may boil and peak, let them roast on it. Let them fume and spew venom. Don't fall for their bait and stoop to their level. That won't help to resolve anything, but only make you feel good for a little while and get two hot heads rolling to no end. Be polite, civil and blemish-free, but not falsely positive or chirpy. Tell them you'll get back to them after they've calmed down or just walk away.
Exit 3: Respond to unexpected, but obvious distractions
Sometimes a phone call comes in the midst of an argument, or your alarm 'mysteriously' goes off or a glass suddenly breaks or a cockroach or lizard appears out of nowhere. Coincidence? I think not! Take to it and run!
Exit 4: Give in to rainbow moments
Arguments can get very heated and hit a wall when both are at it and neither is listening and both are fuming from the ears. It's hard to get an independent word in because both are shouting at the same time. But when things start to quiet down and the silence starts to sound foreign, one person may also start coming back to themself and say something you never expect like, "Ok", or "Sorry" or "Thanks" or "I still love you" or "You're still my pumpkin". Don't hold fast and still stand your ground in anger. Give in to the moment, take the exit and return the courtesy. This will go a far way than living the next couple weeks in continued malice, anger, strife and a long-term sentence of silence.
Exit 5: Accept conviction and correction
The other day in church, we were singing 'You Made A Way' by Travis Greene. And as I looked at the words on the screen above, even though I knew the words of the song, it's as if another version of the song played in my mind (or was it my husband's voice?) and it said:
You made a problem
I don't know how but you did it
When your back's against the wall
And it looked as if it was over
When I saw those words, I felt instantly offended and started preparing my defence in my own mind against my own thoughts. Why? Because I felt I had every right to be angry about the situation my spirit was revealing to me and there was no way I was the one creating a problem. I'm not the problem here, HE is.
That was me. I was convicted, being correcting but I wasn't accepting... until I calmed down a bit. Accept conviction when it comes, stand corrected and take corrective measures without getting defensive.
No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Walk good and stand tall.
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