Managing Anger—Yours and Others’
WE ARE living in an anger-prone society. Traffic jams, conflicting and changing values, misunderstandings, injustices, or other frustrations of daily life cause a lot of stress. Stress is cumulative, and almost everyone has his boiling point. Therefore, we should learn to relax. We can enter each day with a positive attitude—showing patience, tolerance, and good humor. Most of us have a family that loves us. Christians also have loyal fellow Christians in the congregation, and above all, they have the loving Shepherd, Jehovah God. Hence, there is no need to fear one common cause of anger: the feeling of being alone, abandoned.—Psalm 23:1-6; Hebrews 13:5, 6.
If, however, we feel anger or have to confront another person’s anger, we should manage it properly so as to preserve our happiness and well-being. How? The Bible tells us: “He that is slow to anger is better than a mighty man, and he that is controlling his spirit than the one capturing a city.” (Proverbs 16:32) Instead of hastily deciding to express anger, we should consider the possible outcome of our actions. Counting to ten may prevent us from doing something that we may later regret.—Proverbs 14:17.
In the case that we are angry and do not know why, we should humbly and honestly ask for help. To admit to others, especially those who love us, our fears or need for help is not weakness; it is a course of wisdom and courage. Then we can get to the root of the problem. The Bible says: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.”—Proverbs 15:22.
Trying to understand the reasons why others behave the way they do will help us to control our own emotional reactions. Furthermore, if we reply to an angry person, “I understand why you are angry,” he may quickly cool down. The Bible counsels: “The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, and it is beauty on his part to pass over transgression.”—Proverbs 19:11.
Should we unintentionally injure someone, we owe him an apology. For example, if someone steps on your toe, you may tend to become angry. But when he apologizes, your anger fades. Your toe may still hurt, but your dignity is respected. Similarly, good manners on our part, along with common courtesy and healthy humor, can melt resentment and maintain respect toward us in our relationship with our spouse, children, friends, and members of the Christian congregation.—Proverbs 16:24; Colossians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:8.
In dealing with a situation that causes us to feel angry, it helps to know how to talk about our anger without attacking the other person. There is a marked distinction between verbal aggression (“You idiot!” or, “I’ll punch you on the nose!”) and reporting one’s anger (“I am very upset” or, “I feel hurt”). Verbal aggression usually fails because it provokes the other person to retaliate, whereas reporting how you feel is less of an attack, and the other person may be moved to make amends. As the Bible says: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up. An enraged man stirs up contention, but one that is slow to anger quiets down quarreling.”—Proverbs 15:1, 18.
For most of us it is natural to feel angry from time to time. The Bible reports that even Jehovah feels anger. (Zephaniah 2:2, 3; 3:8) So it is not surprising that man, made in His image, should experience a similar feeling. (Genesis 1:26) Hence, the feeling of anger is not in itself a sin.
However, when Jehovah is angry, it is always for a proper reason: Righteous principles have been violated. And his response is always exactly right and perfectly controlled. With imperfect humans it is different. We often feel angry because our pride has been hurt or because of some other human weakness. Hence the need for care in the way we handle our anger. As the apostle Paul warned: “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin; let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil.” (Ephesians 4:26, 27) Yes, Satan can take advantage of our uncontrolled anger. In fact, “fits of anger” are listed among “the works of the flesh” that keep a person from inheriting God’s Kingdom.—Galatians 5:19-21.
That is why the disciple James counsels: “Know this, my beloved brothers. Every man must be . . . slow about wrath; for man’s wrath does not work out God’s righteousness.” (James 1:19, 20) Even if our anger is for a justifiable reason, imperfection may lead us to react in an uncontrolled, wrong way. Hence, we should always be guided by the principle: “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’” (Romans 12:19) Remember, too, that as imperfect humans, we may be mistaken. It is, therefore, dangerous quickly to judge others in the name of righteous indignation.—James 2:13; 4:11, 12; 5:9.
According to the Scriptures, we are living in the time of the end. In these last days, “the nations became wrathful” against God’s Kingdom, and the Devil has “great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 11:17, 18; 12:10-12) Therefore, our living according to the Word of God is the only real safeguard for us. (Psalm 119:105) Soon God will render judgment among the nations, and the earth will be cleansed of all unrighteousness. (Isaiah 35:10; 65:23; Micah 4:3, 4) In the meantime, we need to be sure not to imitate the ways of this angry world. Properly controlling our anger will help preserve marital love, Christian unity, and personal peace and happiness. And most important, it will help us to continue enjoying Jehovah God’s favor and blessing.—Psalm 119:165.