Thursday, June 7, 2012

Slow to Anger

Q. I find myself getting angry pretty quickly.  I want to really work on this and to follow James 1:19 that says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."  Any suggestions as to how I become slow to anger?

A. What a great goal to be striving for!  As believers, we are to work on our anger and keep it in check.  It sounds like you really want to improve this area of your life.  Acknowledging this is the first step to success in dealing with your anger.

The first thing you should do is look at your overall stress level.  When you find yourself stressed out, you will be much more likely to grow agitated and will have less patience for people or situations. Scripture says, "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil." Psalm 37:8.  You may need to evaluate what is going on in your life and where your stress might be originating from.  The anger you are experiencing might be displaced anger.  It might be only once you understand where your anger is coming from that you are able to control it appropriately.  Have heard the scenario before that dad comes home after a terrible day at work and kicks the dog?  In that scenario, dad has displaced anger and taken it out on the poor dog.  Make sure you are not taking out anger and frustrations on others and making them your proverbial dog. If you are interested in learning more about stress, click here for a past article on stress inventories

Secondly, you must look at replacing your reactionary responses with some proactive coping skills  The Word says, "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." Psalm 4:4.  It is not realistic to believe that you will not ever be angry.  Rather, it is what you do with your anger that matters.  Check out this list below of somethings you can do to help you better cope with your anger:
  • take a time out
  • count to ten
  • exercise
  • think about your response before you speak
  • think about possible solutions rather than focusing on the problem
  • deep breathing 
  • journal your feelings
  • progressive muscle relaxation (click here for example)
  • art
  • praying
  • meditating on scripture
Last, rely on God's word and God's people.  James 1:20 says, "For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  Focus on what Scriptures says that God does want for your life.  Spend time mediating on the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.  Also, surround yourself with people that are calming to you.  Share your struggle with anger with your friends as well.  Ask them to hold you accountable to reacting and responding differently.  Ask them to pray for you as well.  Without the help of the Holy Spirit, getting our anger under control could be next to impossible.  The Lord can absolutely grant you the serenity to cultivate the patience you need in your life. 

Again, know that you are well on your way to working on your anger.  Seeing that you have a struggle and verbalizing that you would like to improve in this area is half the battle.  Now purpose in your mind that you want to change and begin to employ some of the strategies above.  Good luck!  
*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
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