“Anger is a distraction,” my mom said, “it’s a person’s way of distracting themselves from the real problems (or pain) in their lives instead of dealing with them. And you pay a price for it.”
Yesterday, I had a conversation with my mom about why people, especially women (myself included), will often fly into irrational anger – even if they seem responsible, calm, and kind in everyday interactions. Yes, it’s irrational anger. To be furious at something that is true, and then to feel the superior prerogative to attack someone out of anger, is irrational behavior. It is one thing to be angry, it is quite another to lash out at others in your anger.
“And you pay a price for it.”
This is what ultimately is the key to avoiding giving in to unhealthy actions that come from feeling angry. When my mom was in her 20’s-30’s, she had to learn to deal with her anger, and she admitted to me that she had a lot of it back then. It was easy to fly into it, to express her anger, and she gave little thought to what expressing it cost her. In the 1970’s, it was popular psychology to feel confident in expressing your anger or rage. Now, from recent science on this subject, we actually know that when you express it, your anger doesn’t get better, in fact, it actually gets worse and grows into more and more… anger. In extreme cases, giving in to your anger can cause abuse or even murder. Indeed, even Jesus described an angry tongue as being capable of “murdering” someone, how much more so when one is giving in to their feelings of anger in a truly violent way.
It wasn’t until my mom came across a book by Abraham Low, Mental Health Through Will-Training, first published in 1950, that she learned that giving in to anger, is “gambling with your mental health.”
When you feel those feelings of anger or “temper” as Low describes it, your peace and inner solitude are disrupted… you’re rendered ineffective and distracted from accomplishing the tasks of your daily life well.
“You can pay the price of that for days,” said my mom. It tangles you up, wastes your precious energy, and robs you of your mental strength and health.
A large part of being mentally healthy, is to understand how to remain calm, responsible, and how to deal with your own anger.
Dealing with your anger means simply not acting out in it. It means having self-control. Humility instead of “intellectual snobbishness” (the desire to show superiority). To have enough character to behave courteously, friendly… in order to create good will with people you are required to do everyday life with, and strangers you may not know. Being a mentally healthy person means you take all these things into account, and ACT accordingly.
Yes, being mentally healthy means having wisdom and discernment to know you are obligated to control your actions and behavior.
Being mentally healthy means you do not give yourself permission to lose your temper and lash out in anger against others. To lose your self-control and pay the price of your peace, the embarrassment, the destructive temper feelings, and the shame that comes when you’re finished giving in to your emotions and realize the damage you caused.
I talk about my mom often on my blog, she was instrumental to a lot of the knowledge I have, and who I’ve become as a woman, wife, and mother to my children. She really was amazing growing up, always giving advice and beautiful instruction on life. It is wonderful to still have her here, and yes, she does know about & read my blog. One of the things she did when we were young was to read a Proverbs chapter a day, based on the days of the month. I’ll never forget the way she’d read the Bible to my brother and I as we were curled up next to her, and I’ll never forget hearing those words of wisdom as they are still with me.
Here are some of the great verses to remind us what God says about anger and losing our temper:
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.
Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of the one who lacks sense.” Proverbs 10:11-13
“The lips of the righteous feed many with their instructions…. The mouth of the righteous produces wisdom…. The lips of the righteous know what is appropriate….” Proverbs 10:21a, 30a, 32a
“An evil person is trapped by their rebellious speech, but the righteous escapes from trouble.
A man will be satisfied with good because of the words he chooses to speak....” Proverbs 12:13-14a
“With the words of their mouth, the ungodly destroys their neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous are rescued.
Whoever shows contempt for their neighbor lacks good sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.
“A gracious woman gains honor…. A kind person benefits their own self, but a cruel person brings disaster on themselves.” Proverbs 11:9, 12, 16a, 17
“The thoughts of the righteous are just, but guidance from the wicked leads to deceit.
The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush, but the speech of the upright rescues them.
A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible.
Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right….
There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Truthful lips endure forever….
Those who promote peace have joy.
A righteous person is careful in how they deal with their neighbor….”
Proverbs 12:5-6, 16, 17a, 18, 19a, 20b
“A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.
A tranquil heart is life to the body, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones. ” Proverbs 14:29-30
“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out (without self-control) folly.
The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.
The lips of the wise broadcast knowledge….
A hot-tempered man stirs up conflict, but a man slow to anger calms strife.
The mind of the righteous thinks before answering, but the mouth of the wicked blurts out evil things.”
Proverbs 15:1-2,4, 7a, 18
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Patience is better than power,
and controlling one’s temper, than capturing an entire city.”
Proverbs 16:7, 32