How to Tame Your Temper
Did you know that back in 2006 Orlando ranked number one as the “Angriest City in America,” according to Men’s Health Magazine? They studied the top 100 cities and yours truly, “Orlando,” was the city that was the most ticked off. Fortunately, we’ve cooled off since then. According to the latest study conducted in 2016 by thrillist.com, Orlando wasn’t even on the list!
Anger is a real emotion we all struggle with from time to time. How we express it is often what gets us in trouble. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind.” Most people don’t realize that anger is controllable. If you don’t believe me, have you ever been in an argument with a family member where the tempers were hot and the phone rings? Suddenly, you “pause” your anger, answer the phone and say “hello” in a “delightful way.” When the other person asks, “How’s it going,” you respond by saying, “Oh, great!” As soon as you hang up the phone, you return to your heated argument. Whether we care to admit it or not, anger is a choice. We can choose to let anger control us, or we can choose to control our anger.
There can actually be a good side to anger. Anger can be evidence of love. If someone were to hurt someone you love and care about, like your spouse or one of your children, it is only natural to feel anger. If you didn’t feel anger, someone might accuse you of being heartless as if you didn’t even care. Some believe hate is the opposite of love. However, apathy and indifference are the opposites of love. The problem is NOT anger, the problem is what we do with our anger.
Let me share three things you can do to tame your temper.
- Understand What Is Causing Your Anger.
Typically, there are three warning signs or symptoms as to what is driving our anger:
- Hurt: Many of us have been hurt or wounded physically, verbally, emotionally, or relationally, resulting in anger and resentment.
- Frustration: We can get irritated and angry when something or someone is standing in the way of achieving our goals or keeping us from moving forward in life. When things don’t work out as hoped, we allow our frustration to turn to anger.
- Fear/Insecurities: Anger and insecurity always go together. When we feel threatened, attacked, trapped or stuck in a difficult place, it causes us to feel fearful and insecure, resulting in anger.
- Think About It and Talk About It Before You Act on It.
Tension and tempers always go together. Taking a step back and reflecting on what is actually causing you to feel angry can help you gain a better perspective and help you deal with your anger in a healthy and productive way. Unfortunately, most people choose to deal with their feeling of anger in one of these three ways, which are not good:
- Suppress It: These people hold it in and store it up over long periods of time until it eventually explodes. It’s like a Coke can after being shaken. When you finally pop the top, it spews and foams everywhere and makes a mess. You definitely don’t want to be standing nearby when that happens.
- Repress It: These people tend to deny that they’re mad. When you press them to admit if they’ve been hurt, frustrated or feel fearful about anything, they tend to deny or pull back from their emotions. Sometimes, these people wear their emotions on their sleeve but won’t admit or talk about what they’re feeling.
- Express It: These people are a bit more obvious. They tend to act before they think. They usually say things or do things they later regret, especially when they hurt someone they care about verbally, physically, relationally and emotionally. This is never a healthy or productive first response to dealing with our anger.
The best way and the most productive way to deal with anger is to think about how and why you’re feeling angry and …
- Confess It: Admitting to yourself and to the other person(s) that you’re feeling hurt, frustrated or even fearful is the best and healthiest way to deal with how you feel. Not only does it help you gain a more accurate perspective on what’s really going on with a situation or person, but it helps them to know and better understand how you’re feeling as well. This ultimately can bring healing, reconciliation, restoration, peace and patience, which is the opposite and a better outcome for our feelings of anger.
Rodney Gage is an author, speaker and the founding pastor of ReThink Life Church. His passion is to help people live life on purpose. To learn more, check out rethinklife.com.