Last updated on September 15, 2020
Recently, I noticed that I have the family curse: the temper from my dad’s side of the family. I never had problems with my temper before, but I am now. A year ago, I would never entertain the thought of hitting someone, but now I have serious trouble not hitting guys who say something outright mean. I recently punched one of my friends in the arm who said something just joking around, but I really hurt him and I feel so bad about it. God saw fit to make me a big strong guy, but I’m afraid I might lose it and really hurt someone. Why did I just now get the family temper and what are some good ways to reign it in?
As to why, there is a combination of things all coming together. First, most guys rarely get mad for long — at least not about most things. We blow up, have it out, and then forget about it. So while you might look back and think you had no problems with your temper, you might be overlooking all the minor blowups because they were easy to forget. Second, you’ve gotten stronger in the last few years. That means when you do lash out, it isn’t something that can be easily forgotten because your potential to cause damage is high. Third, your hormones are both rising and fluctuating. The combination amplifies your emotions. Something that might have annoyed you in the past suddenly becomes a personal insult today.
It comes down to the big task of teenage boys: learning self-control and personal responsibility.
Realizing that it is bursts of anger that is your key problem at the moment, you have to recognize when you are getting angry and force yourself to wait before doing anything. Keep what James said in mind: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). When you get mad, you don’t think. If you don’t think you leave yourself vulnerable to be manipulated by others or by Satan. Take some deep breaths. If you can, walk away for a bit, or walk (run) around the block to give an outlet for that pent up emotion. When you are calmer, think back to the situation and figure out what happened that triggered your anger and whether anger was the appropriate response. More often than not you’ll realize that it wasn’t reasonable because you took things too personally.
Since you mentioned growing up in a family with hot tempers, keep in mind: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). When the people around respond in anger, you easily mimic that same response. Realize that when someone gets angry with you, you don’t have to get angry back. Remember that you are strong — you have nothing you need to prove. Even better, start noticing how anger makes other people look and act foolish. “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).
Often it helps to find a calm guy to talk to about specific situations. Talk about both why you are angry, what is a better way to look a the situations, and what makes a better response. If you keep pressing at it, eventually it will become a part of you.