Seeing Red: We Can Control Our Anger

I'm on vacation with my family this week. Enjoy this series from the archives. I looked at the multiple pairs of shoes on the floor in my living room. I had asked for them to be put away numerous times. And still they sat on the floor. They were no longer just shoes. They became a symbol of all the times I asked my kids to do something that day and they had ignored it or gotten distracted. I saw red, called my kids to the room and lit into them. Both looked at me with wide eyes, unsure why a simple pair of shoes had turned their mom into a screaming meanie.

Was I correct in being angry? Absolutely. Disobedience is one of the things that makes God angry. Did I choose to deal with my anger correctly? Absolutely not. Neither my kids nor I took anything away from that situation that was constructive or helpful. I wasn’t disciplining my kids. I was simply taking my anger out on them.

Controlling our anger is a choice. Even when we’re angry about something that we should be angry about, we have to make a conscious choice to control our anger. We can’t just pass off those moments as part of our personality. Erupting, either verbally or physically, isn’t ever an appropriate way to deal with our anger.

Proverbs 29:8 says “Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger.” If we are wise, we will defuse our anger. We will control it. We won’t let it control us. But how do we do that? How do we hang on to our temper and not let it control our actions? We follow a few simple steps that put us back in control.

Stop. When you feel yourself getting angry, stop what you’re doing. If you need to, remove yourself from the situation or simply take a minute to be silent before you speak.

Identify. Identify what you are truly angry about. Finish this sentence: I’m angry because… Too often our anger doesn’t stem from the current situation but from the build up of a number of things, and the thing that sets us off is not the thing we’re really angry about. Knowing the root of our anger makes it easier to control it.

Decide. Decide if what you’re angry about is really worth pursuing. If you’re angry because you’re hot and tired, then it’s probably best to hold your tongue. If you’re angry about disobedience or injustice, then you’re anger is probably not misplaced.

Plan. Don’t just fly off the handle. Create a simple plan for dealing with your anger. Maybe you need to speak to the person who made you angry. Plan what you’re going to say. Maybe you need to work off your anger doing something physical. Plan how you can do that.

Pray. Ask God to help you control your anger. Ask Him to help you refrain from sin while you’re angry. Ask Him to show you what action you need to take based on the situation.

Act. If there’s a situation that needs to be dealt with, then it’s time to act. If the kids need to be disciplined or you need to talk to the person who made you mad, the time to act is only after you’ve taken a few minutes to Stop, Identify, Decide, Plan and Pray.

Anger is an explosive emotion, and we get into trouble when we act on it without analyzing it. Use this system to teach your kids how to control their anger as well. You can even use the printable Stop! Why Am I Angry? worksheet to help them work through their anger.