"Do you feel like you can only react to your family rather than respond to them?"
I had been feeling helpless and out of control when it came to my short fuse with my family and had sought the wise counsel of a trusted friend. When she asked me that question I felt she had hit the nail right on the head. I finally had words to articulate what I felt going on inside.
Most days, I felt as though I was floating above myself, watching myself snap at my husband and kids over nothing, yet powerless to stop it. In the moment, I knew there was no reason to be so frustrated with them, but at the same time everything was so dad-gum frustrating! Nothing says Mom of the Year like a frazzled, coffee-riddled woman with bedhead, ready to blow at any minute just like Old Faithful.
I knew anxiety was knocking on the door, so I had started seeing a Christian counselor to help me unpack what we had been through in the past two years. It turns out, three international moves and losing a family member unexpectedly will really take it's toll on you emotionally. Who knew?
I have always had what some might call a "strong personality" (*snort*), but this was different. Normal, everyday questions and occurrences were sending me from zero to Crazy Angry Mom in two seconds flat. When I explained to my counselor how I was struggling with snapping constantly, he gave me a great tool to help combat it.
Based on conversations I've had with other friends, it would seem I'm not the only one who struggles with this. So, I'd like share with you the tool he gave me.
The key to controlling your temper? Get ANGRY.
That's right. ANGRY.
A - Admit that you are angry. Say to yourself under your breath, "OK, I'm getting a little worked up here."
N - Say No to your immediate reaction. Choose not to heave that sigh, roll those eyes or say those words that are burning a hole in your tongue.
G - Get more information. Ask yourself, "What is really bothering me here?" Sometimes we have a legitimate reason to get angry. In my situation, though, more often then not I was annoyed that my own agenda was being disrupted or I was frustrated at having to repeat myself again. Take a minute to honestly look at what you're really frustrated with.
R - Review any options. Look at all the possible ways you can respond. Sometimes an intense response is necessary and appropriate. Most times, however, we can choose a more tender option. Sometimes we need to choose to give ourselves a time out in order to get our own grumpies under control. Sometimes we can find kind words instead of harsh ones. Look at the possible ways to respond and choose one.
Y - Say Yes to constructive action. Implement the appropriate response you chose above.
Friends, I will be the first to admit this is not an easy tool to wield.
First of all, I have to choose to do it. That means making a conscious choice not to give in to the immediate "need" of lashing out. And some days it's easier to choose self-control over unleashing the beast than others, ammiright?
Secondly, I have to remember I have this tool to begin with. I cannot tell you how many times I've blown it and thought afterwards, "Good grief, girl, when are you going to remember to get ANGRY?"
Thirdly, I need to offer grace. Grace for my own shortcomings and grace for my family. Grace for loud, creative, rambunctious kids being who God made them to be. Grace to not let my frustrations with myself color how I respond to my family.
Lastly, I need to be humble and ask forgiveness when I lose it.
Ladies, I am here to tell you this is still a major struggle for me. Like, a minute by minute struggle. I was hesitant to even share this with you because I felt like an impostor; a hypocrite for telling you to do something I seemingly can't. Then I realized that part of community and being the body of Christ is sharpening one another. Holding each other accountable, and encouraging a sister when she is down or struggling is paramount to the Christian walk.
So, friends, are you with me? Let's commit to giving ourselves to the Lord, asking Him to change us from the inside out. Then let's commit to being intentional about getting ANGRY in order to control our irrational tempers.
I can promise you I will fail, but I will also be here to help you back on your feet when you fall. Will you do the same for me?
Blessings and grace,