Anger Management

Anger Management is a hot topic in psychiatry at the moment - not because anger is a mental illness but because the two frequently coincide making it part of the problem and hance part of the treatment focus. In this post, I want to illustrate the three key principles of anger management using an old testament story: Moses strikes the rock in Numbers 20. He should have spoken with authority to it to cause water to come forth for a thirst people. Instead he slapped it with his staff and made God look petty.

1. There is usually a noticable build-up to the outburst. People often say 'I just snapped' or 'it came over me', but if you slow down the process, there are usually early warning signs people can be taught to spot. That time when Moses was face down in a stew before God, that would have been a good time to count to ten rather than rush out to the rock!

2. There are usually mitigating circumstances - but that is no excuse. Most people don't want to be angry, and there is usually a trigger however tiny. But if you 'park up' on the fact that the world is so unfair and the anger is other peoples' fault or due to hormones or whatever is the excuse of the day, you will never manage your anger. Moses had just buried his sister and then had his ears chewed off by a cantankerous people. I would be angry. But it is not an excuse before God - he expected Moses to be in control of his emotions and not let them affect his actions.

3. The results may be the same in the short term - but that is not the aim. Having an angry outburst often does help - that's the problem, that's why people have them! Moses got what he wanted from the rock - water came out of it! But God wasn't interested in short term results, he was interested in Moses character and as a result had to tell Moses that he would never enter the promised land. God has a longer term picture in mind and so must people who are dealing with anger in their lives.

A helpful resource for people who stuggle with anger - run by people who have dealt with it in themselves - Alternatives to Violence
Rob Waller, 04/05/2010