Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anger Management

I heard of a young man by the name of Johny that as he grew older he learned to use profanity and have fits of anger. Johny's father was very concerned about Johny and the way Johny was making himself unhappy by excessive application of anger and blame. When things did not go the way Johny wanted he would find someone to blame and then swear about them and claim he would revenge himself on them.

Johny's father pulled him aside and told him that he was not allowed to act that way any more and gave Johny an exercise to help him realize just how much he grew angry. Johny's father gave Johny a box of nails and told Johny to drive a nail in the fence every day Johny lost his temper. Johny was obedient in his exercise, and it was not long before Johny could see that the fence was riddled with nails. Johny became more conscious of his fits of anger and they diminished.

One day it finally happened. Johny told his father that he did not need to drive a nail in the fence because he had not had a fit of temper that day. His father told him he was now allowed to remove a nail from the fence for every day that he was able to go without losing his temper.

Johny made progress and was able to pull the nails from the fence in successive days. Occasionally Johny would lapse into the old habit of letting his temper get the best of him, but would then remember the fence and his exercise of adding or removing a nail. After a long period of controlling his temper Johny announced to his father that the fence no longer had the nails that were driven in the fence. Johny had removed them all.

Johny's father took him out to the fence and asked him to describe what he saw. Johny told his father about all the nail holes and the scars on the fence from driving and removing the nails. Johny's father then explained to Johny that a person's anger is like the nails. If we resort to anger, even if we later repent, there are scars that are left. It is better to not resort to anger. The scars were unsightly and brought the point home clearly to Johny.

There are two sides of anger management. We can control our own anger through self discipline. We can also have an influence on others by exercising some wisdom as written in

Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

I have experimented with both ends of this verse and attest to the truth that is conveyed in these words. Anger can be averted by the soft answer. Conversely, anger can be kindled and drawn by harsh words.

I have heard the expression that a person should go into a marriage relationship with both eyes wide open, and then after marriage you should close one eye.

Once there was a young man that married a young woman. The young man, after they were married, began to make demands on the wife that she change. He tried desperately to get her to improve herself. He would complain about her shortcomings. The wife finally grew tired of all the demands that she improve and change for her husband and reminded him that if she had acquired all of the skills and traits that the husband was demanding that she would not have had to settle for him.

20 years ago I had the opportunity to listen to a speech by a professional marriage counselor (he was not acting in the role of marriage counselor at the moment) tell about when he was going to school and listened to a church dignitary give a talk about problems in marriage. The counselor had a doctorate degree in marital relations and he should know what was and wasn't right, but was taken back to hear the religious leader say that the only reason the marriages did not last was because of selfishness. The counselor vehemently disagreed inside with the counsel given. The counselor gave room to consider the words that were taught and finally was able to come to agreement with that speech.

The counselor related to us a story about a newlywed couple who had a spat and were playing the silent game. You know, when you don't take open aggression, but will walk around not talking to your mate. It was time for the wife's work dinner. The wife came to the husband with the intent of having him zip up her dress the last few inches, but then she remembered that she was playing the silent game, so she pointed at the zipper as she backed up to him. He grabbed the pull on the zipper and played with it by moving it up and down, up and down, up and down, and it snagged. The zipper was stuck. The zipper was ruined. She was able to get out of the dress and changed into another dress.

The couple went to the dinner and returned home that night. The next day the wife was returning from work and noticed her husband under the car with his legs poking out from underneath. She remembered the incident with the zipper the night before and decided it was payback time. She reached down to his fly and zipped it down and up. She slyly walked away and entered the house. She was surprised when her husband greeted her in the house. She quickly explained what happened out at the car in the driveway. The husband explained that Fred from next door had come to help with the car and the husband came in the house to retrieve something.

The husband and wife went out to the car to explain to Fred what happened. The husband called to Fred. No answer was given. He called again to Fred. The husband realized that Fred was not going to answer and pulled him out from under the car by his legs to notice a large gash on his forehead. Fred had obviously had a reflex action to the zipper action and knocked himself out.

Wouldn't it be better to give the soft answer and not be selfish?


  1. I enjoyed this more than you know!!

    I must have heard the same speach about the zipper, or I have heard you tell it before. We seldom use the silent treatment here.

    Thank you for reminding me that I have a responsibility to turn away wrath. I really struggle with that.

  2. Great reminders as I start my day. My husband is great about not letting arguements stretch out. He is never silent and always quick to apologize. I'd like to say that I'm good at that too, but alas, I'm stubborn and prideful. Thank goodness my husband is also patient!

  3. People who spend too much time feeling anger, rob themselves of the joy of peace. I look at the life of Joseph Smith and see the great results of other peoples anger and the way he was treated by others anger, was able to not allow others to take away his righteousness,

    Self control is a great help in anger control. I think that learning to love everyone is a great blessing to one self.

  4. I too am quick to anger, but hate the silent treatment and I am even faster to forgive. Then my issue is the forget part! Thanks for this post it took me a few days to fianlly look at it but it was worth the look!

  5. The speech in Toastmasters was a little longer than my allotted 5-7 minutes.


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