Anger is a Choice

(Paperback - Dec 2001)
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What you need to know to control the emotion of anger and find healing for damaged relationships. Anger is something everyone struggles with--whether it s our own emotion threatening to explode out of control or the anger of others that makes us feel intimidated and afraid. But when we understand where anger comes from, how it shows or doesn t show, then we can do something about it. Either it will control us or we will control it, because Anger Is a Choice. Best-selling authors Tim LaHaye and Bob Phillips tell us what we need to know to control the emotion of anger. They not only examine it from beginning (its origins) to end (its effects), they also help us evaluate our own Irritability Quotient through the Anger Inventory and other exercises throughout the book. In learning how to handle conflicts and anger, we are enabled to heal damaged relationships and help others deal with their anger as well. We can make our lives more peaceful, rewarding, and meaningful by putting anger in its proper place and under our own control. Topics include: * Meet the angry family * Anger and body language * Anger and your health * Anger and your temperament * Is it ever right to be angry? * Anger and forgiveness * Anger in the Bible"


  • SKU: 9780310242833
  • SKU10: 0310242835
  • Title: Anger is a Choice
  • Qty Remaining Online: 8
  • Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company
  • Date Published: Dec 2001
  • Pages: 205
  • Illustrated: Yes
  • Weight lbs: 0.45
  • Dimensions: 8.44" L x 5.48" W x 0.56" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Index, Illustrated, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical;
  • Subject: Christian Life - Inspirational

Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One

Anger-Everyone's Problem

I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" said Amber to her husband, Evan.

"Why don't you just shut your mouth? All you ever do is moan and groan. You make me sick!" was Evan's quick retort.

Evan and Amber had come into my office for some marital counseling. Like countless other couples, they were expressing the anger and hostility that lay deep within them. Henry Brandt, one of the world's most respected biblical counselors, has suggested that anger is involved in 80-90 percent of all counseling. I would have to agree.

Marital conflict abounds in our society. Divorce is on the rise and is a source of anger for many. Countless arguments revolve around visitation rights of parents. Some parents have become so angry that they have even kidnapped their own children so their spouse cannot have any contact. One of the biggest problems in second marriages is children from the first marriage. Arguments frequently flare up over discipline and child-rearing techniques.

Alimony also creates anger. I read in the newspaper about a man who paid his alimony payments in nickels. Another man, a cement truck driver, was so mad at his former wife that he got even with her in a unique manner. Rolling down her car window, he filled the car with cement while it was parked in front of her house.

One study indicated that 80 percent of couples who verbally abuse each other ended up in physical combat. Every year, two million women are beaten by their husbands. Approximately 40 percent of all women murdered were killed by their husbands. As an interesting side note, one study of "male batterers" indicated that the men were not out of control. Their heart rates even decreased during the times when they were emotionally upset. The study seemed to indicate that the men got violent on purpose in order to produce fear and to control their wives.

A minister asked that I counsel his wife for an unrepentant affair she was having. Expecting to see a siren walk into my office, I was surprised to find a gracious, soft-spoken woman of forty-five who told this story through her tears: Her husband was a dynamic minister, very successful in his church and admired by everyone. But he had one sin she could not excuse. He was an angry, hostile man whom she considered "overly strict and physically abusive of our three children. He cannot control his anger and has on one occasion beaten our oldest son unconscious." When the boy turned nineteen, he ran away and joined a gang. Brokenhearted, she said, "From that day on I lost all feeling for my husband."

An extreme situation like this never occurs suddenly. It had been building up for years, primarily related to major disagreements over disciplining the children. She had learned to live with his other angry explosions, but she could not endure his manhandling of the children. Too fearful to voice her real feelings, she witnessed her husband's angry frustrations worked out on the heads, faces, and backsides of their children. Although she only interrupted on extreme occasions, she acknowledged "dying a little" each time he abused them. As it turned out, her affair was not a real love problem but a retaliation intended to spite her husband.

When the minister came in, he was obviously desperate. I was never sure if he sought help because he really loved his wife, or if he was just trying to save his ministry. When confronted with his hostilities, he retorted, "If a man can't let down and be himself at home, where can he?" I was silent for a long time. As he sat there thinking, he finally admitted, "That sounds pretty carnal, doesn't it?" Before leaving, he came to realize that his anger was as bad as or worse than her adultery. Although this man was able to salvage his marriage, as far as I know he has never regained his son. In all probability, more sons and daughters have been alienated from their fathers because of Dad's anger than anything else. And the tragic part of it is that the son will probably treat his son the same way. Angry fathers tend to produce angry children.

Therefore it's not surprising that anger and hostility are not limited to husbands and wives. I have counseled young people who wished their parents were dead. Part of their anger stems from the abuse they have received at the hands of their parents. Approximately one million children a year suffer from some form of child abuse. This abuse can take the form of emotional abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. More than five children a day die at the hands of their parents or caregivers.

I remember counseling one young mother of two who tearfully confessed to feelings of such anger at her infant when he screamed that she sometimes entertained "thoughts of choking him." She then added, "I'm so afraid I'll do something harmful to my baby." Upon further questioning, I discovered that she had been rejected by her father and was clinging to bitter thoughts about that rejection. Her rancorous attitude was eating her up, in spite of the fact that her father had been dead for five years.

In recent years, there has been an increase in elder abuse, often instigated by children toward their parents or by staff workers in nursing care homes. Some people have taken to hiding television cameras in their parents' homes or nursing centers to catch elder abusers in action. These abusers can be seen slapping, punching, and shoving the helpless elderly individuals.

Verbal abuse and fighting take place in many homes and at extended family gatherings. The two primary times for family arguments to occur are a half hour before everyone leaves in the morning and a half hour before dinner in the evening. In the morning the pressure of leaving on time is a major factor. In the evening, everyone is tired, hungry, and irritable. A general surliness tends to fill the home.

Many arguments between husbands and wives occur later in the evening just before going to bed. As a general rule of thumb, discussions that begin after 9:00 P.M. have a strong tendency to go downhill. Both parties are tired, and they begin to think of the pressures of the next day. Past experience has taught them that the issue will most likely not be resolved before they go to sleep. Because of this, they may start to talk to each other with a negative attitude, which typically leads the discussion in a downward spiral.

Outside the home, anger can be seen in the workplace. Employees hate their bosses, and bosses dislike their employees. One study indicated that the display of anger in pressure situations is a major factor for business executives missing promotions, being fired from work, or being asked to retire early.

Mr. Nice Guy

I remember a Reader's Digest article many years ago explaining "the tragic deaths of four employees, and the critical wounding of another." The assassin was a "Mr. Nice Guy" type, the kind of man who would make a pleasant neighbor. At forty-three years of age he seemingly went berserk and shot his fellow employees.

Investigation revealed that his bizarre behavior was not spontaneous. Eighteen months before the tragedy he was bypassed for promotion in favor of someone else. His wife acknowledged that from that day on "he gradually became a different man." It is not difficult to imagine the mental chain reaction he experienced. As he nursed his grudge and indulged his bitterness, mulling over the injustice of the situation, he became emotionally distraught. He took his .38-caliber revolver to work and shot five people. One common thread of identity united the victims: They were all in a position to have participated in the matter of his promotion by his company.

Today this man is housed behind bars, estranged from the family he loves. Four people met an untimely death, and one may be crippled for life, all because of his hostility. It is from this incident that the phrase "going postal" has come into our vernacular.

There is no question that we live in a stress-filled society. Many are overwhelmed, overworked, overscheduled, and overspent. Our society demands bigger, better, and faster. We have instant frozen foods, fastfood restaurants, and quick-stop markets.

We now have a host of electronic devices that help to speed up our world. We have phones with caller identification and voice mail. Cell phones are carried by countless numbers of people. E-mail, the Internet, computers, portable printers, and fax machines add to the speed of information transfer. Palm-held computers organize our lives. All of these things can be extremely helpful on one hand and destructive on the other. Cell phones and pagers begin to act like tethers that keep us constantly attached to anyone who wants to contact us. There is no time for solitude or meditation. It then becomes easy to become hostile as a result of being obligated to everyone's desire to interrupt our lives.

In our fast-paced world, no one enjoys waiting. Our business has become addictive. Patience is out, and impatience is in. No one likes to wait in a doctor's office, in airports, or in traffic. No one likes to wait in line at the grocery store. Have you ever been in the express lane that has a sign indicating ten items or less? Have you found yourself counting the number of items the person in front of you has? Have you discovered yourself getting upset when they had eleven items?

Adventures at Disneyland

No one likes to see people cutting in line-especially if it's in front of you. I remember a cutting-in-line incident that occurred when I took our family to Disneyland. We were waiting in line to go into the Haunted Mansion. All the people-mover bars were in place for the large crowd.

We had been waiting in line for over an hour with many other families. We were in the last set of people-mover bars next to the mansion when the event happened. My family was engaged in conversation. I was lost in my own little world of looking down over the crowd and thinking about how much money Disneyland was making. (The mansion is on a slight hill so you can observe the customers.) There were about 450 people in line. They were backed up all the way to the train station in the distance.

Then I finally saw them. They were three teenage boys. They kept moving their way up through the crowd, cutting in front of parents and their children. They were moving from the bottom of the hill to the top. I found my eyes fixed on their movements. As they passed family after family, I found myself getting upset at their rudeness and selfishness. These families in line were patiently obeying the rules, while the teenagers were ignoring common decency and manners.

I thought to myself, This is not right. This should not continue. Of course, my family had no idea of the turmoil going on inside of me. They were engrossed in their conversation. The closer the teenagers got, the more I could feel the turmoil. I was just a few feet away from them as they cut in front of the people in the line just below ours.

Finally they turned past the last people-mover and started down our aisle. I had no idea what to do. They were now one family away from ours. I then turned and blocked their way with my back to them. They were waiting for me to move out of the way so they could scoot by. I was still struggling with what to do.

At last, after what seemed like a frightfully long time, I turned toward the crowd below. I raised both of my arms and yelled. "Folks! Folks! Could I have your attention please?" My family stopped talking and stared at me with shock written all over their faces.

I continued, "We've been standing in line for over an hour-yet, these three young men (I turned and pointed to them) feel like they would like to cut in line in front of you. How do you all feel about this?"

My family was now melting into the ground. The more passive people in the crowd were silently gawking at me. All of the vocal people began yelling, "Give it to them!" All the people surrounding me rose to the occasion. We wouldn't let the boys move forward or backward. As the line finally moved around to the entrance, we explained what had happened. The Disneyland people kicked the boys out of line. They are very good about that. This was one of the few times I actually had some fun as I stood in a line.

In our fast-paced world we have become "multitasking" people. It is easy to become irritated when we are not accomplishing as much as we like. Have you ever found yourself doing a number of things at the same time? Have you been in the bathroom getting ready for work and finding yourself blow-drying your hair, eating a piece of toast, and flushing the toilet with your foot? Have you watched other people driving their cars while eating, talking on a cell phone, shaving, putting on makeup, picking up trash from the seat, putting on nail polish, or reading? While at work have you experienced talking on the phone and typing on the computer at the same time? Have your teenagers been doing their homework, eating, talking on the phone, and watching television-all at the same time? There seems to be a sense of urgency that drives us and makes us impatient and angry when we are thwarted or slowed down in our movements.


In recent years, a new term has appeared: road rage. With the increase of cars and traffic jams, some people have crossed over the line from impatience to sheer rage. Some call it "car wars." Freeways and highways have become the battleground for high-speed duels, bumper tag, and accidents. Have you ever been irritated by the driving habits of others? What are your thoughts about older drivers or foreign drivers? What is your response to slow-moving cars in front of you? Do you find yourself yelling at their drivers and telling them to get out of the way? Have you ever finally gotten past the slow driver in front of you, only to slow down in front of him or her just to get even? What are your thoughts about someone who tailgates? I know of one individual who, perhaps unwisely, stopped his car in the middle of a street and went back to advise the tailgater (with gusto) of safer driving practices.

People filled with road rage can be seen swearing and giving finger gestures to other drivers. There have been many news stories of drivers beating up other drivers. Recently, two women became enraged while on the road. They played bumper tag for several miles. One of the women became afraid, turned off, and drove home. The other woman was so angry that she followed her to her house. The first driver got out of her car and went back to talk to the woman, who pulled out a gun and killed the other driver, a mother of three children. Now a husband has lost his wife (and three children their mother) because of road rage.



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