Some children seem to be born more edgy and irritable. They often cry and appear easily frustrated. As toddlers, they are cranky and prone to upset. Researchers think genetics or physiology may predispose some people to be angrier than others.
In addition to the influence of genetics, our culture also plays a role in the way we express anger. Regularly we witness people throwing things, yelling, getting their way at the expense of others, hurting others and basically letting it all hang out. Desk rage, air rage and road rage are all around us. The message is, just release that pent up anger. You’ll feel better.
Family is also a source for learning when it comes to anger management. A family that is disruptive, chaotic and doesn’t know how to handle the emotion of anger creates angry people. You learn what you see. If family members are out of control and have no skills to manage anger, you will follow their lead unless you make intentional changes.
And since anger is a part of our emotional make-up, we all need to learn how to mange it without being destructive. No matter what the source of our anger, we are responsible for what we do with it.
For years, people were encouraged to give physical release to their anger, to “get it out of their systems.” Hit something, punch a pillow or a punching bag. Yell, scream and vent those angry feelings. Research tells us this is not a good idea. When people lash out with angry behavior, it actually escalates their anger and doesn’t calm them down!
So give your pillow a much needed rest and try these five strategies:
1) Take a 20 minute time-out from an angry situation. Walk away, practice deep breathing to calm down your body. Come back to the situation once you are physically relaxed.
2) Take each thought captive (2Corinthians 10:5). Angry emotions are rooted in angry thoughts so learn to stop that angry thought and think on something more positive or good (Philippians 4:8).
3) Choose not to take offense. Even if offense was given, it is your decision to take or refuse it. Always err on the side of giving mercy to others.
4) When you are the target of injustice, do the unnatural but biblical thing-pray for that person (Matthew 5:44). I admit, this isn’t easy to do.
5) Choose to forgive. Because God forgave you, you must forgive others. It’s a biblical mandate (Matthew 18:21-22). Forgiveness is an act of obedience to God and prevents bitterness from forming.
Always remember. You are the only one who has control over your responses. An angry emotion may creep up, but how you handle it is what counts. The biblical directive is to be angry and not sin (Ephesians 4:26). The way we meet that requirement is to respond in a godly way no matter what the source of the anger.
Paul sums it up in Romans 12:19-21 (NLT) ” Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written: “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. Instead do what the Scriptures say: “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.” Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.”