You can learn how to control your anger. Here is a Christian counselor’s deep dive into the 5 most helpful things to do.
Ever find yourself asking God: How do I control my anger??!
Anger can be such an overwhelming emotion.
And if you ever find yourself crying out to God for helping, asking yourself “how do I control my anger?!?!” or wondering why you’re still struggling with this emotion… my friend, you are not alone.
So many Christian families struggle with managing anger. It’s awkward to talk about, hurtful to our family relationships, and we just want it to go away.
Well, it is possible to control those anger outbursts.
As a Christian counselor, sometimes I think that I should have all the answers. But managing emotions in our own families is hard work! Thankfully, we serve a God who DOES have the answers and who delights to pour out grace when we are struggling.
Want a few tips from a mom who’s been there? From a Christian family counselor?
Well, join me today as we dive into some practical and biblical strategies to get your mom anger under control.
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What Christian family life looks like when you can’t control your anger
Mom anger is real. There are so many hormones, sleepless nights, stresses and worries… and so many emotions that we’re trying to manage every day.
Not just our own emotions either. But today, we’re taking a look in the mirror.
Sure, your toddlers struggle with their emotions. And your husband might to. But we have to start by taking the log out of our own eyes, as Jesus says.
When you are struggling with anger outbursts, you know it’s hurting your family relationships. It’s hurting your own sense of peace and joy at home. You worry that it’s even hurting your Christian witness to your kids, neighbors, and friends.
The first thing we need to do is figure out what are the very first warning signs that we’re getting upset? Here are a few things to look out for:
- You start to feel hot or your muscles get tight
- Feeling frustrated, annoyed, irritated… and it’s only escalating from there
- It’s difficult to control your thoughts or concentrate on things
- You might be rehearsing a bad situation in your head over and over again
- More conflict, yelling, or arguing at home
- Sometimes you might have stomachaches, headaches, or feel lightheaded when you’re getting angry
- Family relationships might start to feel distant or isolated, with the silent treatment or avoidance happening at home
That definitely is not the family life that you want!
Why you’re struggling to control your anger as a Christian mom
Many times, part of the frustration Christian moms deal with when anger is feeling out of control is wondering where God is in all of it.
Why isn’t God giving me more patience? Helping me to control my tongue? Where is He in all of this?
Well, there are a lot of reasons why Christians continue to struggle with anger management… even though we love Jesus and are trying to live our lives for his glory.
First, remember that your physical health is impacting your emotional control. As a mom, you are dealing with a lot of hormone changes over the years. This can have a big impact on your emotions! From PMS to postpartum and beyond, hormones are rough.
But also, moms tend to struggle to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and drink enough water. It’s easy to live off caffeine, sugar, and whatever leftovers our kids don’t eat on their plates. But that doesn’t exactly help our emotional control.
Beyond the physical, Christian moms struggle with the same issues as everyone else: sin is real, pride and selfishness make us angry when things don’t go our way, and we are surrounded by lies from the Enemy and from the world. Instant gratification isn’t actually realistic (or even healthy), but we get annoyed when it doesn’t happen.
Let’s consider this important truth from the Bible, in James 4:
A big part of our anger is the sin inside of us! Yes, Jesus has conquered sin and given us the Holy Spirit. But we all continue to struggle in different ways… and how to control anger is a common struggle.
As you’re fighting to control anger in your own heart, tongue, and home, it might feel like God is absent. But He is always with you! In fact, you will find encouragement as you dive into his Word, pray for help and guidance, and trust his grace is sufficient for your Christian family life.
Protecting your family relationships from the impact of anger
It goes without saying that your anger is impacting your Christian family life. That’s why you’re reading this blog post in the first place!
So let’s find a little motivation in reminding ourselves just how much this matters. Christian anger management is helped by the Holy Spirit (thanks be to God!) but it still takes work, effort, and doesn’t always happen as quickly or smoothly as we would like.
As you work on controlling your anger, you’ll be able to help so many areas of your Christian family life:
- Soothing and healing the hurt feelings that come with outbursts of anger
- Creating a greater sense of security for your kids, marriage, and family relationships
- You’ll be showing your kids better ways to manage their own anger
- More peace, fun, and connection… and less tension, conflict, and argument
But you know what? Even when you do have that outburst of anger, it does not need to ruin your family relationships. You can work on fighting fair when you’re having conflict in your marriage, and you can follow up with your kids after an outburst of yelling.
Apologies and forgiveness are not only an important part of family life, they are good, helpful, meaningful, and actually build deeper relationships with the people you love.
Pin this post for encouragement later!
5 helpful strategies to start building more control of your anger today
So many Christian moms struggle with anger. And it is so distressing and upsetting! It brings a lot of women into counseling, seeking the skills for Christian anger management and trying to find healing for hurt family relationships.
Not only do I have over 10 years of experiencing helping Christian families with these issues, I struggle with anger myself as a mom.
It’s tempting to blame it on the stage of life I’m in – and it’s true that having 4 little ones in the home who are all under 4 years old is a lot of work! – but it’s not just about that. It’s about my own heart. My own spiritual maturity. If I want good relationships with my kids and my husband (and I do!) I need to get my anger under control.
And so do you.
Every one of these 5 strategies will be helpful.
1. Deepen your intimacy with the Lord.
As you grow in your relationship with God, there will be a natural impact on your anger and emotional self control. Or maybe I should say: a supernatural impact! He will fill you with the fruit of the Spirit and change the desires of your heart to match his own.
Intimacy with God is so incredible, and so powerful in our lives!
But there are two really important truths about your relationship with God that we have to look at first.
FIRST: Your relationship with God does not depend on your ability to get your anger under control.
He loves you no matter how often you yell at your kids, grumble about your husband, or say the hurtful thing that you regret. Of course, God does not want those things for you! But they don’t change how much He loves you.
SECOND: Also, your relationship with God is about so much more than finding healing for your emotional struggles.
God wants you to love him for him, not for the things you can get from him. Yes, He will help you control your anger. He wants to give you wisdom (James 1:5), patience (1 Corinthians 13:4), and self-control (Galatians 5:23).
But your relationship with God is about God. He is worthy of your praise, adoration, love, and obedience even if you continue to struggle in your attempts to control anger.
We all feel disappointed when we pray for something and God says no or seems to not respond at all. But He is there, He is listening, and He is answering – it just doesn’t always look like what we expect.
And if you aren’t sure how to get started, grab my FREE Bible devotional guide: The Holy Habits 45-Day Bible and Prayer Challenge.
2. Figure out your triggers
While you cannot blame your triggers for making you angry, you need to figure out what they are so that you can deal with them differently.
But first: what is a trigger? A trigger is any situation that predictably brings up a certain emotion.
Triggers can bring up happy emotions. When your child calls you “mama” for the first time, this is a very natural trigger to emotions like happiness and joy. It is just so sweet!
Similarly, triggers can bring up difficult emotions. We all have certain triggers that lead us toward sadness, toward anxiety or toward anger.
And once you figure out what your personal triggers are, you can start to handle them differently.
For myself, a big trigger right now is my 3 year old starting to act in specifically defiant ways. When I tell her to stop doing something and she looks me in the eye and does it again, she is being deliberately defiant – and I feel angry about it!
Yes, her behavior is sin. It is disobedience. There is an appopriate mom response of discipline, consequence, and rule-setting. But she is not responsible for my emotion of anger, and she is definitely not responsible for how I handle that anger.
Other normal triggers might be things like overhearing someone say something mean about your child, your husband coming home late without calling ahead, or being treated rudely in the grocery store.
Once you have figured out some of your personal triggers, you can try to avoid the situation or come up with a plan for how to deal with it. But honestly, even the awarness that a certain situation is likely to trigger you anger can help you deal with it differently!
3. Pause and calm your body
When you experience a trigger or your start to notice that you’re getting upset, this is the perfect time to use this strategy.
- Stop responding, stop reacting,
- Instead: PAUSE.
- Then use that pause time to calm down your body’s physical reaction.
Anger always has a physical reaction in our bodies. You might feel flushed, experience your shoulders or fists tightening, or feel like you need to punch the wall. But the sooner that you calm your body down, the more easily you’ll be able to control what you do with the anger you’re feeling.
A classic place to start is with slow, deep breathing. Don’t say something when you’re angry. Just pause and take some slow breaths. Inhale slowly, hold your breath for a moment, and exhale slowly. Repeat this a few times. You could even count to 10 (or 100!) while you’re doing it.
This deep breathing will start to calm your adrenaline and calm your body. It reminds your brain that you don’t need to react in a big way. Everything is okay.
It also helps to use this “pause” time to think about something calming. You could review your grocery list in your head, think about a favorite Bible verse or think about things you are thankful for.
Whether you pause for 10 seconds or 10 minutes, you can do something during that time to calm your body.
4. Take a time-out to go cool down
What if that short pause isn’t enough? That is totally normal! Sometimes we need to get away from the situaiton and take a time-out in order to truly calm our anger down.
This strategy can be really helpful, but you have to do it right. If you yell at your husband and storm off, he is going to think the worst. This isn’t a time-out to cool down, it’s an outburst of anger that is just going to create more tension and conflict.
Here are some helpful steps to take a time-out in a way that not only helps you calm down but actually strengthens your family relationships at the same time.
- Tell the other person that you’re going to take a short time-out because you’re getting really upset and want to calm down.
- Leave the situation (if it’s safe to do so) and do a calming activity.
- Use that time to calm your body, mind, and emotions. Don’t spend the time rehearsing everything you’re upset about!
- Focus on calming down.
- Once you are calm, return to the person so that you can finish the conversation or resolve the situation
A time-out like this is not about punishment. It’s about creating space for emotional self control. It can protect your relationships and help you restore peace instead of building on the conflict.
You might use this time-out time to go for a run, listen to some worship music, write out a gratitude list, or pray. Just make sure you aren’t using it to focus on your negative thinking and make sure that you actually do finish the conversation! This isn’t just an escape card that allows you to leave the argument on the winning note. That won’t help your family relationship, and the conflict will just pop up again later anyway.
5. Reduce your overall stress level
This is a big-picture strategy, but it can have a big impact on controlling your anger. Stress triggers all sorts of emotions. It makes us irritable, easily frustrated, and impatient.
Which means that if you reduce stress, you will reduce (at least in part!) those hard emotions that come with it.
Now, next week we will be doing a deep-dive into the topic of reducing your stress. But there are some tips that can help you right now!
- Say NO to more activities and commitments.
- Spend time every day doing something that you enjoy, which fills and refreshes you. (Grab my free 51 Self Care Ideas list if you’re struggling to get started.)
- Allow for intentional time every day connecting with God and praying for the things in your life that are stressing you out today.
- Ask for help wherever it’s possible – from your husband, older kids, friends, or others in your life.
- Take time each day for journaling your thoughts and intentionally thinking about things you are thankful for in your life.
This is not all the answers to your concerns about how to control your anger
Anger is a complicated and difficult emotion to manage. There are many places in the Bible where God gives encouragement and direction in what our anger looks like.
When you’re struggling to manage anger outbursts, don’t give up!
Every time that you succeeed in staying patient, biting your tongue, or walking away from the conflict is a win.
God is glorified in your efforts, and your family relationships are blessed. Your experience of Christian family life is strengthened.
Listen to Episode #137
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.