How To Control Your Anger (or, why you shouldn’t flip people off)

How To Control Your Anger (or, why you shouldn’t flip people off)

I’ve never flipped someone off, until last month.
I was dropping my daughter off at the airport to go back to college on the West Coast. I was emotional. She was emotional. Our family had just spent Christmas break together, and now it was time to send our youngest back to the other side of the continent.
The ride was really quiet.
When we pulled up to Departing Flights at Philadelphia International, the time finally came to say goodbye. We got out of the car outside Terminal B, and I gave her one of those "I'm going to cry so hard that I'll hold you tight so you can't see me losing it" kind of hugs.
As we embraced, some idiot behind us honks at us to get out of the way. I turned around and saw him waving his arms and screaming inside of his car. My daughter laughed, said goodbye, and walked to the entrance.
Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh it off.
I was filled with rage for a grown man who couldn’t wait five seconds (literally) for what obviously was an emotional moment between a father and his daughter. I walked towards his car, said something I’m too embarrassed to repeat here, and then flipped him off.
For the last month I’ve been asking myself two questions:
  1. Where the holy heck did that come from?
  1. How can I better prepare myself for the next time something like that happens?

Below are three quotes on anger from three amazing men who have mentored me up close and from a distance.

For the last month, I've been wrestling with each one…

3 Quotes On Anger Worth Pondering

  1. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."

This comes from Jesus’ brother James who was writing to Christians who were being mistreated 30 years after his brother’s death. I’ve often thought that the only thing worse than getting murdered had to be watching your brother get murdered.

If it were me, I would have spent the rest of my life identifying, plotting and killing every single Jewish leader who had a hand in my brother’s death. Not James. He knew that the man who becomes angry eventually becomes a man with many regrets.

  1. “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil.”

This comes from the emperor Marcus Aurelius in his book Meditations. Here was the most powerful man in the world reminding himself to be measured in how he reacts to people who anger him later that day.

No-one could have stopped him from murdering anyone who ticked him off, but like James, he knew uncontrolled anger wouldn’t bring about a life he would be proud of.

        3. “You can measure a man by what it takes to get him mad.”

This final one comes from my dad. He shared this with me when I was in high school. He is the most measured, in control person I’ve ever known. I’ve only seen him lose his temper once, and while I was growing up he had really good reasons not to be (usually because of me).

I think what disturbed me so much about that event is on the drive home I immediately recalled what he shared with me all those years ago. Here I am, a 50-year-old man, still struggling with anger all these years later.

My Plan For Next Time:

To prepare myself for next time I’m tempted to lose my cool, I’ve been praying a simple prayer every day:

“Make my first words, kind words.”

Each December I make a list of annual goals for the following year and turn them into prayers that I pray as soon as I get out of bed. They're the first thing I do each day.

They all begin with the same sentence: "With your strength and for your glory, I will…."

After that embarrassing incident, I amended my 2018 Prayer Goals with a new prayer that I placed at the top of the list.

“With your strength and for your glory, I will make my first words, kind words.”

“Make my first words, kind words.”

That’s my prayer for 2018.

How about you?


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