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How to Control Your Anger (Part Two) ~ Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.

Moody-woman

Continued from Part One

The following thoughts will consider various ways in which anger is expressed and the remedies to be applied. Self-examination questions are provided. Let these become the means by which you will resolve to conquer your own personal tendencies to anger.

1. ANGRY WORDS

The most common form of anger is that of harsh, loud, strident, intemperate words. Question yourself as to whether you may be guilty in any of the following things:

1. Do I find myself raising my voice to anything from a shout to a scream when I feel upset or unnerved by something that is said or done to hurt my feelings?

2. Do I catch myself saying harsh and bitter things without pausing to think of the meaning of what I am saying, then afterward regretting what I said? ‘I hate you.’ ‘I wish I were dead.’ ‘I wish you had never been born.’

3. Do I use profanity or vulgar and obscene words when I am angry, obviously wanting to shock and hurt those who cross me?

4. Do I make accusations against others that I know I have no right to make when I feel resentful against them?

There is only one remedy for the intemperate language one is tempted to use in anger. That remedy is silence. One has to learn the art of saying nothing at all when one knows that anything said will hurt another in some way. A mother tempted to anger against her children should train herself to keep silence for 30 seconds when she feels on the verge of screaming at them, and in that time she should say a little prayer for patience. Then she may give orders and correct the children, and she will do so reasonably and effectively.

2. SARCASTIC WORDS

Anger does not always take the form of loud and violent language. Sometimes it speaks quietly, but its quiet is that of a knife cutting into the very heart of another. Sarcasm is the weapon that anger often uses in these cases. See whether you have used it.

1. Do I speak with scornful exaggeration of the virtues of my wife or husband or children when I am angry at one of them? ‘Of course you know it all.’ ‘Of course you can do no wrong.’ ‘Of course you’re perfect and never commit a fault.’

2. Do I refer sarcastically to what other people have and what I might have if I were not tied down to this home when my anger boils over? ‘What a fool I was for not marrying somebody else!’ ‘Other wives (or husbands) have something to say in their own homes; but I’m just a servant without getting paid for it.’

3. Do I belittle the actions of another person whose efforts are better than mine? His success has made me angry and so I must strike back and cut down his achievements. ‘That’s a good job but with all those years of experience you should be able to do better than that.’ ‘You think that’s good. If I had your talents I’d really be able to go places.’

Sarcasm is very often motivated by pride. Someone is better than we are and we are angered to see them get ahead of us. In our anger we attempt to cut them down and build ourselves up. To avoid sarcasm we need humility and honesty. We must accept ourselves as we are and not become angered by those who are better.

3. VIOLENT ACTIONS

The tendency of unrestrained anger is to hurt the person who has aroused the anger. In some people the tendency has been so little restrained that it seeks to hurt not only by words but by actions. Violence is one of the worst forms that anger can take and may, if serious injury is attempted or done to another, constitute a serious sin. Search your soul for this weakness.

1. When angry at my children, do I strike them in a fury of passion that reveals a willingness to hurt them severely?

2. Have I ever used cruel and inhuman instruments of punishment in my anger, which could easily do serious or lasting damage?

3. Have I ever left marks, bruises, cuts, disfigurements on another as a result of attacking that person in my anger?

4. Do I throw things, kick things, break things, in giving way to my anger, thus destroying valuable property besides trying to hurt the person who aroused my anger?

A person who permits anger to be displayed in the form of violent actions against another person reveals himself as a person with very little self-control. For a violent person to change he must adopt a rigorous program of self-discipline. He will have to use all his strength to keep himself under control rather than allowing this force to be turned against another person in an angry display of violent action.

4. QUARRELING

Anger leads not only to sudden and momentary outbursts of harsh and cutting language and violent deeds; it is also responsible for protracted quarrels. We mean quarrels, not in the sense of fistfights or physical encounters, but in the sense of angry altercations that may go on for long periods of time. Husbands and wives as well as brothers and sisters may find them-selves addicted to quarreling. This can also be a problem at work, in school, or wherever people gather to talk. Here are some questions to ask yourselves.

1. If somebody states that I am wrong in holding a certain opinion, do I argue long and loud, less concerned with truth than with browbeating the one who disagrees with me?

2. If I am gently (or even harshly) corrected for something I have done or said, do I go into a tantrum of self-defense and accusation against the one who corrected me, until we are both shouting about the faults we dislike in each other?

3. Do I start quarrels by saying things that I know are certain to arouse the ire of another, with the result that we usually end up in a torrent of counter-charges?

Common sense, combined with just a bit of fraternal charity, should enable one to avoid quarreling. Common sense reveals that angry quarreling is about the most useless thing we can engage in. A good, honest, intellectual discussion with some-one is profitable, even though it grows warm at times. Quarreling always centers around personalities, and its arguments are inspired by passion and pride rather than reason. It never convinces anybody of anything, and only leaves lingering bitterness in its wake. Charity demands that a person try to say nothing that will aggravate another, and that, if unwittingly he has said something that has that effect, he withdraw from the argument immediately. It takes two to quarrel; one is enough to stop a quarrel.

5. NAGGING

Anger can explode, and anger can simmer and sputter for days or weeks, even sometimes for years. The nagger is the person whose anger takes the form of constant complaining, repeated statements of his (or her) grievances, ever-recurring expressions of spite and resentment. The chronic complainer, the person who is never satisfied, would also fit into this category. When nagging and complaining enter into a household, peace and comfort fly out the window. Some people do not know that they are naggers, but they will know it if they honestly answer these questions.

1. Do I have one particular grievance (e.g., against my husband, that ‘he does not make enough money,’ or against my wife, that ‘she spends too much money’) to which I give expression in petulant or accusing language at least once every day?

2. Whenever the least bit of difference, an argument, or misunderstanding arises do I find that I inevitably bring up a long past fault or mistake of the other, which I have mentioned at least a thousand times before?

3. Do I find that I rarely go through one full day without complaining to my wife (or husband) about something that I don’t like in her (or him)?

Nagging is one of the infallible signs of self-pity and a lack of that wholesome generosity of spirit that alone makes full forgiveness of the shortcomings of another possible. Naggers defend themselves on the ground that anybody would complain who had to bear the terrible things inflicted on them by another. They are right in that anybody with as small and pinched a spirit as theirs, and as great a devotion to their own superiority, would always find some-thing to complain about. To get out of that class of small souls, the nagger needs to learn the spirit of humility, gratitude, and forgiveness.

To be continued…..

 

“Keep a hobby and ride it with enthusiasm. It will keep you out of mischief, to say the least; it will keep you cheerful. Here as in all things you can apply the Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for the greater glory of God).” – Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book

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