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Timeless Tips for Anger Management
Training Your Anger
Something really makes you angry. It truly ticks you off and gets your dander up. It just makes you so mad. How dare he do that, to you? And why did you just stand there and allow her to say that when you knew it wasn’t true? When they talk to you like that, you know they’re purposely trying to make your blood boil. Get the point? There is something—or someone—waiting around the bend, every day, to raise your dander or mine. It might not be anything big. In fact, some days it can be one or a series of tiny little small things that are waiting to get under your skin. And that means, on any given day, you could have a desperate need for knowing exactly what works when it comes time to gain control over personal anger. To "house train" anger, you will first have to begin to think of it like you might think of a puppy, as something that is in need of training and control if it, and you, want to learn to live in peace with others.
Anger causes us to do and to say things we later regret, more often than not. Uncontrolled, it can cause you to hurt those you love (or other innocent bystanders), prompting people to do their best to avoid being around you. And if you choose to live with it bottled up inside—while you are withholding forgiveness, or nursing a desire for revenge, or babysitting a grudge—it can actually cause physical problems in your body, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, frequent indigestion, headaches, and it can even raise your blood pressure.
Left uncontrolled, anger can eventually cause you to harm, physically, yourself or someone else. It can cause you to drive like a maniac, keep mental lists of those who have wronged you, or destroy relationships that matter to you. It can cause others to feel threatened or afraid to be in your presence, fearing you might become angry.
Let Go and Let God ...
It is wise to go to God to find the best way to deal with anger, no matter what causes it (“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Ephesians 4:31). And, since we know God has placed a lot of the answers we need in our lives in places we don’t normally look for them, I am proposing to you that sometimes taking control of your anger might need to be compared to house training a puppy. Therefore, training it might need to go something like this:
- Your anger is going to be on its best behavior if it is taken out regularly and consistently. It needs a chance to purge after being kept inside.
- Choose a quiet place to purge or eliminate your anger. Then, always take your anger—on a leash, directly to your quiet place. Taking anger for a walk or engaging in uplifting activities directly after elimination will help anger to associate good things with elimination.
- If you have to clean up an accident that anger makes, take the memory of it to your quiet place, where you eliminate anger, and leave it there. The memory will help your anger recognize what things need to be taken to the quiet place.
- While eliminating it, use a phrase like “go away anger.” Eventually, if you say this before eliminating anger, it will be reminded about how it needs to behave.
- Praise yourself, lavishly, every time you eliminate anger. Give it a treat immediately after elimination. Rewarding yourself immediately is the only way anger will learn that elimination is appropriate behavior.
- Put your anger on a regular elimination schedule. Eliminating/purging regularly will train your anger to be eliminated frequently and consistently, and this will make life easier for you and for others who may come into contact with your anger.
Self-Control is Key ...
Isn’t it true that no matter what causes anger, we all still need to learn how to control it, rather than allowing it to control us? Only you can do the spiritual work it takes to overcome one of the most devastating weaknesses of being human. Holding on to anger actually makes you weaker. It saps your energy, your vitality, and your focus. It takes you away from your goals, and puts you on a path of spirit-numbing negativity.
Learning to control anger is something you and I must learn to do, no matter what. Practicing self-control or temperance in all aspects of our lives can instill within us the willpower we need to connect with Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ. God tells us we should be slow to anger. To me, that means we are not to keep anger inside, waiting just beneath the surface of our emotional core. Instead, we should keep peace waiting there. When something occurs that would ordinarily make you or me angry, we must learn to replace our tendency to allow anger to flare up inside, with a stronger desire for peace within, as well as a desire to have peaceful relations with others.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD