In chapter 3, Warning Signs, Julie Ann Barnhill discusses “How to Know When You’re Gonna Blow.”
“There are warning signs and signals for just about everything that can be potentially dangerous. Train whistles and crossing lights caution motorists to slow down and be observant. Tornado sirens drone loudly… However, unless you’re trained to recognize these warning signs, they are ineffective in helping you remain safe and protected. You have to know the warning signs that spell imminent danger–especially when you’re the one in danger of exploding in anger.”
Warning Sign #1: Swarms of Smaller Earthquakes
The author talks about everyday things and chores which may not cause an explosion themselves but together they build up until the explosion finally happens. She says that “…hours before Mount Saint Helens erupted on May 18, 1980, hundreds of small earthquakes were recorded in the state of Washington…”
Laundry Room Rumbles: Piles of laundry all needing to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.
Kitchen Quakes: Crusty dishes, crumbs on counter, spills on the floor, etc.
Technology Tremors: Loosing reports before they were saved on the computer, messing with vacuums or other appliances that won’t work, etc.
Workplace Woes: Dealing with supervisors, stressors, and pressures at work before going home.
These are some but definately not all of the possible “earthquakes” that could be present any given day. Barnhill suggests finding a way to put visual stressors (such as the piles of laundry) “out of sight until you can do something about them.” She also suggests reflecting on Jonah and his complaining when he should have been thanking God. “Instead of fretting over the problem, try thanking God for the gift of the computer or the washing machine, which has saved you so much trouble in the past. A little perspective and a little gratitude can really help you keep your cool!”
My main “earthquakes” include:
~ When my girls are getting into or doing something that they know they are not supposed to do (as in they have been told repeatedly and disciplined for it in the past)
~When my girls argue, fight, hurt each other, don’t share, etc
~When things do not go as planned
~Lack of sleep
Warning Sign #2: Sulfur Dioxide Emissions
“As a volcano nears eruption it will release toxic gases that can endanger human life and health.” Here she discusses body language and speech such as: angry retorts, sarcasm, and little barbs. She recognized the toxicity of her speech when her son started to repeat her facial expressions and speech.
I would like to add swearing to the list. I find it absolutely insulting and rude when I hear others swear around me or at me. Yet, it is a habit that in today’s culture is generally socially acceptable. Although there was a time where I would never swear; over the years certain words became habits. Not in everyday language but when I am angry or I hurt myself it is easy for me to say them. This is one habit that I definitely do not want my girls to pick up.
Warning Sign #3: Physical Swelling of the Slope
“As a volcano nears eruption, its sides will start puffing out from the pressure inside… It simply doesn’t look right–and experts know that funny appearance spells trouble.” The author goes on to describe a story where her anger became visibly apparent to everyone around. Her husband saw the warning sign and did what he could to calm the situation.
When I am starting to get angry; I feel like I am boiling inside. I am pretty sure that my face gets red and my eyes show intense fury. My mom has always said that my face generally says it all before I speak. You know the saying, “If looks could kill…” I generally feel like I have been attacked in some way (Shane says or does the wrong thing, Kendal refuses to obey, Audrey is screaming because she doesn’t want a nap, etc.).
One thing that I have been doing (mainly within the past month) to keep me from exploding is listening to praise music. For some reason the calm worship music helps to keep me more relaxed and peaceful. I can’t say that it 100% has stopped me from exploding but I can say that the explosions are few when I have the music playing in the background. This may work for me because I sing along with the music which keeps me in a worship mindset. I am relaxed so it takes longer to get me to the point of blown out anger.
At the end of this chapter, Barnhill suggests that after an explosion happens to stop and write down what happened right before the explosion. This may help you recognize triggers to your anger so that you can avoid those triggers in the future. I have slowly started to do this but it has not become a habit for me yet so I often forget.
What are your personal warning signs and what things have you learned to do to help diffuse your explosions before they happen?
(P.S. this question is NOT rhetorical! I really would love to hear what others do so that maybe I can learn some more tips to incorporate into my life.)
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By Julie Ann Barnhill / Harvest House Publishers
I would love to hear your thoughts and stories if you have ever dealt with anger in your life!
Please feel free to comment on my posts and/or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find links to all posts in this series on the Anger Series Index page.