Survival skill

Controlling anger is absolutely necessary for a happy life

For singles, controlling anger means the difference between a sullen, resentful life and a life marked by optimism and joy. Angry people exist in a perpetual state of self-inflicted torture.

Every day this survival skill gets more valuable because the world keeps getting crazier. As society drifts farther from God, people rebel against moral laws that have been accepted for thousands of years.

It's no different from ancient Israel in the time of the judges: "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6b, ESV)

Controlling anger has both emotional and spiritual components. Once you understand the terrible consequences of unleashing your rage, you'll appreciate how important it is to restrain it before the worst happens.

Important note:

I strongly advocate seeing your medical doctor if you have a serious or ongoing problem with anger. Articles on this site are not intended to substitute for professional help.

Stopping it before it can start

Just as what you eat affects your physical health, what you watch on TV affects your mental health. Throughout this web site, I emphasize how advertising manipulates us. News programs are doing the same thing too.

I don't distinguish between political parties when it comes to TV "news." Both sides are encouraging people to hate. I'm old enough to remember when America's two political parties worked together to solve problems. Now all they do is accuse and block each other.

Friend, don't let them push your buttons. They're trying it, and unless you're discerning, you'll come away from watching a pundit feeling as if you'd like to strangle somebody. Fellow Americans of the opposite political party are not your enemy. They don't deserve your hate.

It's all about TV ratings and ratings mean money. Somebody's getting rich while ordinary citizens are killing each other. Beware, beware of what you let come into your mind. Don't let yourself become a tool of somebody's agenda.

This type of "the other guy is evil" broadcasting isn't going to stop. I don't watch it. It's dangerous and I won't be suckered in by it. How about you?

Controlling anger: Ineffective ways

We can't escape aggravation, so we need to learn how to deal with it effectively. The key to that truth is "effectively."

Here are some ways people try to deal with their rage that only cause more problems:

  • "Stuffing" or repressing anger.
  • Deliberately slowing down work in retaliation.
  • Shouting or screaming at people.
  • Physical violence.

You'll notice there's a progression in these methods, because the first steps usually don't work very well. The early stages here may be more socially acceptable, but they don't do anything to remove your resentment.

A frightening fact is that every day, people across the United States are buying more and more guns. Fear and hate are driving most of these sales. We learned during the pandemic that some people are so tightly wired they'll shoot at the slightest provocation, such as being asked by a store clerk to wear a mask.

Buying a gun obviously is not an answer. You may think you're defending your rights or your life when you shoot someone, but it's very likely you'll end up in prison for the rest of your life and lose everything.

Effective ways of controlling anger

You get angry. We all do. But here are some suggestions for steps you can take after anger occurs:

Question your anger. Ask yourself: Will this matter a week from now? A year from now? Many things we get mad about are temporary irritants. In the grand scheme of things, they're only a bump in the road.

Was the offense deliberate? Often when people set us off, they don't even realize it. They may have said something offensive or hurtful without even realizing it. Don't look for reasons to get teed off.

Is it worth it? Getting angry usually has physical consequences, ranging from headaches to digestion problems. Since I've learned to shrug off more aggravations, I've had a lot fewer health problems.

Work it out/off. Physical exercise and sports are extremely effective avenues for controlling anger. Maybe that's why gyms are so crowded. The exertion takes the "fight" out of your natural fight-or-flight response. At the same time you're building strength and stamina. Even a brisk walk can help. This is nothing new, but everyone who exercises may not be aware of it.

Do something constructive. After you take enough time to cool down from your discontent, you might calmly talk to the person who offended you and give him or her your side of the story—which does not include yelling or threats. Gently make your feelings known. Be sure to ask for their side too. Even if the other person does not apologize, you will have gotten your displeasure off your chest. In other situations, you might also pursue getting involved with a group or charity that addresses what's bothering you (as I have). Most of the positive changes in society have come about because someone got angry enough to work for improvement.

Anger and the Christian

You'll find plenty of anger in the Bible, but not all of it is good. In fact, it's often used to show us examples of the misery that results when rage takes over. The book of James gives this warning:

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:19-20, NIV)

Here's the takeaway about controlling anger. That skill is based on your level of self-esteem. If you have low self worth, you perceive every slight as a personal insult. However, when your sense of worth comes from the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ, you'll discover most irritants are extremely tiny pebbles, bouncing harmlessly off the armor of your healthy self-image, rather than the boulders you used to think they were.

But that takes time and spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity comes from the assurance that no matter what injustices you have to bear, you are on your way to Heaven, because Jesus paid the price for your sins. Sure, adversity will continue until you face the biggest trial of all:  death. That's when you start a new life, in a Place where there is nothing to be angry about.

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