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I’m working with parents right now who want to help their son deal with the anger that often arises when he doesn’t get his way or he’s being asked to do something he doesn’t want to do.
In the process of developing an “anger plan” for her son, this mom is realizing that she has an anger problem. She’s struggling to help him while she’s dealing with her own issues. She has 4 young boys and is almost always overwhelmed. She can easily find herself reacting to their annoying and challenging behavior with frustration and anger?
Does any of this sound familiar?
I know about this because I’ve been there. I never used to think of myself as an angry person, but once my second child came along, there was no doubt that I had a problem. I was in the fire and I couldn’t handle the heat. One evening, I was changing the baby’s diaper and my older son was challenging me. I don’t remember the details now, but I do remember the surge of angry feelings that came over me. I was ready to explode and I didn’t know why.
A number of trusted advisors encouraged me to seek out help from a counselor. That was a hard decision.
First, I had to admit that I had a problem and needed help.
Second, I had to deal with what people would think if they saw me going into the counselor’s office. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do! Somehow the Lord gave me the wisdom and the strength to go down that road.
My counselor encouraged me to embrace this journey for the sake of my children and my children’s children. I went on a journey of inner healing and heart transformation. Yes, it was hard work, but it also was one of the best things I ever did. God was with me through the whole journey and I was most aware of his presence.
I’ve grown in my understanding of emotions and how to deal with them. I still struggle at times and have to learn new things or re-learn old truths. One verse has helped me more than any others. It’s Proverbs 29:11, “Don’t be a fool and quickly lose your temper – be sensible and patient.” (CEV)
I want to tell you that there’s hope. It requires some intentional and hard work and some careful examination of your heart. Emotions are good and they’re part of how God made us and how learn and grow. I’ve learned that emotions are good for identifying problems, but they’re not good for solving them.
You see, emotions are very powerful and can easily build to a point where the brain can no longer maintain a balance. Emotions actually over-ride our rational processes. That’s the point where we blow up. We need to stop this emotional build so that our brain and spirit can engage and help us determine what’s going on and then how to respond. Emotional explosions tend to do a lot of damage, especially to relationships. God wants you to do this inner work and he’ll walk with you through it.
One of the first things we need to do is to identify the early warning signs or cues that emotions are starting to rise.
I did a series of 3 Facebook videos with a young man we’ll call “Joe”. In the first video, you’ll see how I work with Joe and cast vision for the character quality of “self-control.” The main Bible verse that I’ll use with Joe is Proverbs 29:11.
If you’re working on anger in your life, you’ll want to embrace this vision as well. Vision is a picture of a desired future where this character quality is strong.
Here’s the first video.
In the 2nd video I work with Joe to identify the cues that he’s about to become angry. If you can catch the early cues, you can use a number of strategies and techniques to slow the emotional build. I’m trying to give him the tools he needs to take responsibility for his own growth and development as a man of God. I have Joe talk about the anger cues for every member of his family.
Do you know your anger cues? Watch this video.
If you learn to identify the cues, you can catch the anger build before you lose control. Then you can stop and ask the question, Why am I angry?”
Anger is growing in us because something is wrong. It could be something unjust or evil out in the world, or it could be in us. Often my anger has to do with my expectations or my desires. That’s another issue for another article.
The important thing is to stop the emotional build and do some introspection before you act. Once you identify the problem, then you can determine the best way to respond with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I did do a 3rd video with Joe where I help him develop his personal plan for growing in “self-control.” He and I both added suggestions for actions or strategies he can employ to slow the anger build and then use his mind in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to determine how best to respond and act. Ultimately he chooses the components of “Joe’s Plan” and I determine to assist, encourage and cheer him on.
Joe is a young man that I’m mentoring in real life. He’s been working on understanding and dealing with his emotions. He’s making great progress.
You’ll want to develop your own anger plan. A good plan for an adult involves more soul searching and asking the question, “Why am I angry?” May the Lord work powerfully in your life as you grow in this area.
Suggested Action: If you need more help in this area for your child, please consider working with one of our Biblical Parenting Coaches. Let us know if you want more information. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell 609-203-0672 for more information. I do free consultations with parents as well.
Ed Miller is a good friend of Dr. Scott Turansky. He and Scott have enjoyed working together, living in the same neighborhood and vacationing together with their families for almost 25 years. The two families have also worked together to develop the NCBP) over the past 20 years. Ed now serves as the Director of Development for the NCBP; the leader of the Family Ministry Consultation Team and a content presenter. Being a good parent, husband and follower of Jesus Christ are important values in Ed’s life. He also loves coaching young people, coaching sports and coaching parents!