35@35 #9: Self Awareness

drowningTC's Guidelines and Principles for Life #9: "Don’t send an email response while angry.  Put it in the draft folder first." This is a pretty specific guideline, and maybe you don't have the problem of sometimes over reacting to mean emails like I do, but the principle of this statement actually goes beyond just getting a frustrating email/facebook reply/rude text.

Psalm 4:4 says this: "Don't sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. "

Other translations start that verse even more bluntly: "Be angry and do not sin."

Here's what I get out of that: God knows we are going to get angry sometimes. The scripture doesn't say 'Don't get angry.' It says 'When you get angry, don't sin.'

Then, it gives a specific instruction: think about it overnight before you say anything.

I don't think we're supposed to spend that interlude stewing and thinking of how we can say the most hurtful, hateful thing we can thing of.

It seems more like we're supposed to calm down before we respond to whatever has made us angry.

For me, a rude or obnoxious email can send me to that place of being angry. A lot faster than it probably should. I'm working on that.

But because I'm not a robot and I can't flip a switch to be better at handling that part of my emotions, I need a way to handle them while I'm also trying to get better at it.

So for me, it means that if I am replying to a rude email, I put the message in a draft folder before sending it. I give myself time to cool down, then I go re-read it (and usually change it) prior to sending it.

Maybe for you, it's not a rude email. Maybe your weakness is dealing with change. Maybe it's when people are condescending to you. Or it's a tendency to over react to people based on self esteem issues. It could be anything.

Whatever it is that puts you in a place of angry responses: first, be aware of your trigger.

When somebody hits your trigger (like sending you an angry email), recognize it.

Create the space to calm down. For me, it's a draft folder. Maybe you just need to go breathe deeply for 10 minutes. Maybe you need to just smile and say you'll talk to them later.

Whatever it is, put healthy guidelines in your life that will help you not to sin when you are angry.

We all get angry, but we can all learn how to respond to that emotion in healthy ways.


35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.