Carrying a chip on your shoulder is a sure way to drive people away from you

You may have a chip on your shoulder and not even realize it.

This odd expression means you're spoiling for a fight, or at least an argument. It supposedly comes from the American practice in the 1800's of putting a chip of wood on your shoulder and daring someone to knock it off. The person with the chip was angry, looking for someone to inflict that anger upon.

Later, the term came to mean someone who is argumentative or just plain cantankerous. We all know singles like that. For a time in my life, I was one.

Look, I didn't create this site to beat people up. We get enough of that from the world around us.

But because I went down this wrong, angry path myself, I'd like to give you a few gentle suggestions so you can avoid the kind of pain I brought on myself, okay?  Who enjoys pain?  Not you. You're too smart for that.  So please keep reading with an open mind...

A chip on your shoulder from hating the world

Let's face it. We all go through times when we think we've gotten a raw deal in life. We think life is unfair or even that God is unfair. Our anger builds up. We stomp around in a nasty mood looking for an excuse to snap at someone.

We feel entitled to our snit. We've been treated unjustly, and we're looking for revenge. Of course it doesn't make sense to attack an innocent bystander who says something questionable, but we don't care. We're full of bile and want to let some out.

But is that any way to live?

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Time to outgrow some things

The spiritually and emotionally mature person understands when it's time to move on. Living in the past--always looking behind you--gives you a permanent kink in the neck, and that's painful.

Two year-old children throw tantrums and even though it's obnoxious, we tend to overlook it because of their age. In thirty year-olds, it's downright scary.

Carrying a chip on your shoulder harms you the most. People steer away from you; you're like a vicious dog that may bite with the slightest provocation. Friendships fall apart. The more people avoid you, the more bitter you get.

We hear so much and read so much about people demanding their rights. Everyone has to be so politically correct because people have a chip on their shoulder from some wrong done to them in the past. Maybe it wasn't even done to them personally, but to the group they belong to. They carry a grudge and just wait for somebody to offend them.

Many singles tend to be defensive anyway. Carrying a chip on your shoulder does more harm than good, though.

So how can we chill out?

Sometimes it's tough to be pleasant. You really have to work at it. You may not feel well, or you're having a bad day, or you're just feeling frustrated in general. There's a real temptation to pop off, thinking you're going to "put somebody in their place." What happens, though, is you make a fool of yourself, lose other people's respect, and end up apologizing or permanently damaging a relationship.

We're all under a lot of stress, but that doesn't give us the right to be perennially honked off. At some point, we have to let the past go. Grudges are too heavy to carry around.

I found that I was able to get the chip off my shoulder when I took my eyes off the past and started looking toward somewhere else. For me, it's to Jesus. Yeah, I know you may be sick of me always bringing God into it, but a lifetime of trial and error has taught me he's the answer to just about everything.

Christ is the only place we'll find justice. We won't get it from this world. If that seems like a pie-in-the-sky attitude, well, it's truly unrealistic to believe that our society is going to make things right for you. And you can struggle on in your own effort for a lifetime and still end up dissastisfied.

God can heal your past, as he healed mine. When you focus on him, you realize he does have the power to change things. You can lose your bad attitude because you sense you've finally encountered someone who has the ability to make things right. You turn your anger and disappointment over to him.

This is a gradual process because it takes courage to give up your hurt. God may settle the score in this life, or he may not. That's his choice. But it takes a colossal burden off you.

Remove that chip on your shoulder yourself. Toss it by the wayside. God will pick it up. He'll hang on to it for you. Some day, somehow, he'll make things right.

Take the next step...

How to avoid bitterness...

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