Daily D – Proverbs 14:29
People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness. PROVERBS 14:29 (NLT)
Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding;
A quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.
There are two little words I would love for everyone around me to learn. They are amygdala hijack. Daniel Goleman gives us this term in his book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. If you enjoy deep and dense books filled with reports on scientific research, this is a good one. If you prefer more conversational volumes which simplify those reports into useful bits of life-changing information, try on for size Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry. The opening illustration in the introduction is worth the price of the book.
Wikipedia says, “An amygdala hijack refers to a personal, emotional response that is immediate, overwhelming, and out of measure with the actual stimulus because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat.” When we allow ourselves to spiral out of control with anger or fear, we cannot think or behave reasonably. We do not make good decisions. We move into the territory known as fight, flight, or freeze.
Emotional Intelligence, often abbreviated EIQ, empowers individuals to keep control of their decision-making faculties in the face of significant challenges. As Tom Landry demonstrated for nearly thirty years as he paced the sidelines for the Dallas Cowboys, it is the person who keeps his head when everyone else is losing theirs who wins. Winston Churchill famously said, “Keep calm and carry on.”
Nearly three thousand years ago, King Solomon, a wise man and a collector of wise sayings, recorded this observation Goleman, Greaves, Bradberry, et al declare and discuss today. Controlling anger is wise and productive. Quick-tempered reactions are hurtful. They can quickly turn destructive. Anger under control protests. Anger out of control riots.
James, Jesus’ little brother, wrote, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: you must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires,” (James 1:19, 20). (You might want to highlight that last sentence.)
The Apostle Paul, once an angry young man who breathed death on his opponents, wrote, “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil,” (Eph. 4:26, 27).
Anger under control is a good servant to oppose injustice. Anger out of control makes us tools of the devil.
The next time you feel the spiral of anger growing within, stretch out your arms wide. Then yawn a big yawn. You will feel the anger begin to dissipate. Still not calm, cool, and collected? Try rubbing your arms for sixty seconds. Still need a wee bit more chill? Rake your fingers across the palms of your hands for another minute. You might also have a quiet talk with God about what you are feeling and how you should respond in a manner that honors him and serves others.
If someone suffers an amygdala hijack in your presence, you will not be able to out-shout them or force them to calm down by yelling, “Calm down!” The fastest method of defusing the bomb is to become focused, quiet, and soft. Drain the adrenaline from the overreacting person.
Aren’t you glad science has caught up to God on this matter? Don’t you wish everyone knew and practiced this? This might be a good verse to commit to memory and to use with others from time to time.
I will keep calm and carry on.
Our Father, today I will encounter opportunities to lose my cool. I will experience moments when I could react with anger rather than respond with peace. Empower me to keep calm and carry on. Make me a peace-bearer and a peacemaker. Do not let me lose my mind. Instead, make me kind and gentle. The whole world could use more of this fruit of the Spirit. Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)