Prepare for Battle
Compiling a list of the situations (and people) that push your buttons will help you. Proverbs 22:3 states, “Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later” (Good News Translation). Accordingly, a key to controlling your anger resides in your preparation. When possible, prepare in advance – especially if you’re going to interact with someone who frequently aggravates you. Don’t give anyone the power to steal your peace and self-control. “If you cannot control your anger, you are as helpless as a city without walls [and] open to attack” (Proverbs 25:28, Good News Translation). Therefore, commit to maintaining a calm temperament. Say to yourself, as you breathe deeply, If I stay peaceful, I’ll stay powerful.
Consider the Source
Let’s be honest, everyone isn’t a credible source. A person’s opinion of you can be fueled by jealousy, insecurity, their personal issues, and a host of other reasons. Thus, consider the source while weighing what people say. Sure, you could deliver a cutting comeback when people insult you, but there is no power or growth in that. Instead, choose to see the offender like God does. As hard as it may be, look past their insults. Extend patience and compassion – because your offender is most likely fighting their own internal battles.
Get a Hold of Yourself
Supermodel Naomi Campbell is almost as famous for her out-of-control temper as she is for her work in the fashion industry. News reports have highlighted her aggressive behavior – which has included throwing a phone at her maid, attacking two policemen at London’s Heathrow airport, whacking her limo driver on the back of the head, and hitting a cameraman when she stormed out of a television interview ... to name a few. While it’s easy to scoff at her actions, it’s harder to examine our own anger-driven outbursts. Maybe we didn’t throw a phone at the maid, but it’s possible that we’ve snapped at a customer service representative, or lost control while reprimanding our kids. Every human being gets angry from time- to-time. But Ephesians 4:26 commands, “Don’t sin by letting anger control you” (New Living Translation).
Believe it or not, deep breathing really helps. George Washington University’s Counseling Center gives this advice:
When you feel angry, it is important to have a relaxation technique that works quickly and in any situation. Deep breathing allows the body to absorb more oxygen, and slows your heart rate to combat the adrenaline rush that floods the body when you’re angry. Deep breathing involves breathing from your stomach area or diaphragm, rather than breathing from your chest and shoulders. When you are engaged in deep breathing, your stomach should move in and out – but your chest and shoulders should not move. Deep breathing is rhythmic and slow, similar to your breathing pattern when you sleep. When you feel yourself becoming angry, take a moment to notice your breathing. Often it will be shallow and quick. If you begin to breathe from your diaphragm and breathe more slowly, you should notice a change in your body. Your muscles may start to relax, and the feeling of tension may diminish. This brief pause may also give you a chance to regain your composure, control your angry feelings, change your thoughts, and handle the situation more effectively.
Change Your Perspective
While speaking to Peter, Jesus said, “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?” (Matthew 26:53- 54, New Living Translation). Like Jesus, we must always see the bigger picture – even in the midst of insults, injustice, and irritation. Some adversities “must happen” to facilitate God’s purpose for our lives. Consider Romans 5:3-4: “We know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and His approval creates hope” (Good News Translation). So control your anger, and allow those “annoying” situations to make you stronger.