There is so much material out there that deals with anger management it seems redundant to post my thoughts. However, this is one topic that I have had a close personal relationship with through out my life. So I thought I would post a few of the ideas that have help me deal with anger on my journey. For the next few days I share information and tool that have been helpful to me.
What Pushes Your Buttons: Anger Triggers
You can probably think of lots of things that make you angry.
- Feeling ignored, or feeling that we’re not getting the same as everyone else
- A sports referee who doesn’t call fouls on the opposing team.
- A friend who forgot your lunch date.
- A child’s bedroom that is never cleaned.
- The driver who cut you off this morning.
- The price of gas.
- Cell phones.
The list could go on and on, but what all these things come down to is two things: Our expectations have been violated or our goals have been blocked. We expect to be treated fairly and get angry when we’re yelled at for no reason. If other people don’t measure up to what you think is normal, you may get angry. Let’s say that you don’t think people should wear socks with sandals and I walk in wearing sandals and black socks. The minute I walk through your door, it violates your expectations of good taste (Just so you’ll know, I would never do this because this is one of my triggers!). Anger triggers differ for everyone. They vary by age, gender, even culture.
CUT THE WIRE TO DIFFUSE THE BOMB
Most of us have sat on the edge of our chair watching someone in a movie who is trapped in a room with a ticking time bomb. They are usually getting instructions from someone who is in a safe location as to which wire to cut to diffuse the bomb. I’m getting stressed just thinking about it.
The truth is, I have been in that situation many times with an anger bomb ticking away just waiting for one more trigger in my life to set me off. I put together the illustration above to help me visualize what is going on in me. The three categories of triggers I thought of as three wires leading to the trigger mechanism on the time bomb. Whenever I begin to hear the inner ticking of an anger bomb I stop and ask myself “which wire do I need to cut?”
This may sound a little like over kill but I use a Sword to cut the wire. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the “word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Yeah buddy, that aughta do it! So what does the Bible say about these three triggers:
1. FEAR—Ok, this is an easy one. More than 360 time in the Bible we read “Do not be afraid.” That is one for each day of the year! In fact Jesus says in Luke 12:4 “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
2. Frustration—My friend and mentor Rick Thomas at http://www.competentcounseling.com/ shares a biblical perspective on this when he writes about how he handles the frustration of counselees who will not change: When I sense these sin temptations rising in my soul I know that my trust is slipping from the Savior of the Universe to my abilities, agendas and preferences for them. In short, I have become a Mini-Messiah. In these moments I believe the change process rests more on me and my opinion on how things should be than whatever God may be thinking or doing in this situation. Once I repent of my pride and realize that my main purpose is to water and plant the seed while trusting God to bring the growth, then my human ability to serve my friends does not impede what God is or may be doing in their lives. However, when I begin to feel more responsible than God intends me to feel, then I typically sin against them. And that becomes a distraction in the counseling process. My faith for change and the timing for change must be fully in God, especially when I’m counseling the seemingly unchangeable.
3. Hurt— Matthew 16:21 “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.” Jesus suffered the ultimate hurt, He was killed.” However, much like a key change in a song from a minor to a major key, this verse in Matthew turns on the word “but.” “But on the third day he would be raised from the dead.” Friends that is a big but! God has a way of turning the sting of my hurts into joy. This is the Third Day Principle. God will take my surrendered hurts and turn them in to good!