Handling Anger, Frustration, and Conflict with Less Regret.
“It’s hard not to have regrets when you’re angry.” – Becca Jones
I stood in the kitchen discussing my upcoming book with my daughter-in-law. Though the book won’t be released for months, the book is about how to handle conflict so we don’t hang our heads in regret, and think, why on earth did I handle things that way?”
When I told Becca the essential message of the book, Becca laughed knowingly (she has two toddlers) and then uttered her classic line: “It’s hard not to have regrets when you’re angry.”
She got it. We ALL get it. I’ve yet to meet a woman who can’t recall a time or two (or one hundred!) she’d love a do-over.
And though I’m not ready to share what’s between the pages of the book, I can share what I told Becca about anger. It’s also what I tell myself about frustration, anger, and how to handle conflict.
So far, the content below isn’t in the manuscript—but who knows? Maybe after today’s post, it will be!
Anger is a Thermometer
Anger emotions are like a thermometer. When all our relationships clip along seamlessly, our thermometer stays cool. However, with each relational hiccup, the temperature rises just a bit.
Think about your typical day. It may involve challenges with kids, conversations with co-workers, conflicting goals with clients, caustic strangers, incompetent customer service representatives, or a cranky spouse. One of these things will raise our emotional temperature a degree or two. However, combine several of these challenges and our emotional mercury is sent soaring.
Soon, our capacity to stay calm has nearly reached the top of our emotional thermometer. One small thing–something we’d otherwise deem minor—can easily cause us to blow our top. Or completely blow off the relationship.
Either way, the outcome leaves us hanging our heads in shame and guilt.
Typically, it’s not just one thing that causes us to handle conflict poorly; it’s usually the combined pressure from several things that raise our temperature over time.
What does this mean for us as we seek to navigate conflict in a God-honoring way?
First, pay attention to small, incremental increases in frustration.
It’s almost impossible to live with self-control if we live without self-awareness.
Invite God into your emotions.
This is where prayer comes in. Pray something like, “God, I can feel my frustration growing. Open my eyes to see why this is happening and give me wisdom to handle things Your way.”
Actively look for ways to lower your emotional temperature (the above prayer is a great start!)
Here are a few more:
- Step away from the situation for a moment.
- Open your Bible for a few minutes.
- Listen to worship music.
- Tell the other person what’s going on in your head, by saying something like, “I’m reaching my emotional capacity right now, and I don’t want to say or do something unhelpful, so I’m going to push pause on this conversation.”
- Laugh at how ridiculously out-of-control your life feels in this moment!
- Go for a walk, a run, or hit the gym.
- Call a friend
- Get a really good night’s sleep!
So, now I’m going to get personal: Want me to tell you what JP and I do when we feel our emotional temperature rise?
We say, “On a temperature scale of one to one hundred, I’m at about a 99.5” (or whatever we feel like our emotional gauge is at the moment.)
Letting the other person know where we stand in our capacity to handle more stress has helped us avoid unnecessary conflicts more times than I can count. Plus, when one of us says this, we typically laugh. Which, of course, lowers our emotional thermometer.
Becca is right. It’s hard to be angry without regrets. However, with a little bit of wisdom and a whole lot of help from the Holy Spirit, it is possible to have less regret and more peace.
You are loved,
Connect with Donna on Instagram @donnaajones, or on Facebook at Donna Jones, Speaker & Author. And, don’t forget to listen to her podcast, That’s Just What I Needed. You’ll find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Podchaser and pretty must anywhere you listen to podcasts.
More than a Bible teacher, Donna is a self-described Bible explainer. A colorful storyteller who combines Biblical truth with real-life anecdotes, her messages not only help listeners understand God’s Word, but most important, grasp how to live it out in real life.