The Bible mentions the idea of being “slow to anger” many times. It’s used to describe someone with strength, a spiritual leader’s qualifications, and as an example of how we should be in relationship with others. We see the example given to us countless times in how God interacts with His people and through Jesus’ ministry.

Being angry is not always a sin, but how we express it can be. Losing self-control of our emotions is often sparked by our selfishness and inability to flex when something doesn’t go our way and look the way we planned. When you’ve lost your cool, you often feel shame and guilt for your behavior. You are left aching as well as the person receiving your anger. Becoming slow to anger will benefit you and your relationships.

The concept of being slow to anger is great, but the reality is that it’s HARD to accomplish. When something upsets us, our instinct is to quickly react in a not so righteous way.

Here are 3 steps to help you be slow to anger:

Prayer

Slowing down your anger is not just something you can “white knuckle”. It’s always good to start with prayer to help you through. Confessing to God that you don’t have the strength and need help is a sign of humility. Admitting this to yourself, God, and others starts to break down the selfish roots that are at the core of the anger problem and is an important first step. This internal brokenness and repentance is a giant leap towards a healthy expression of anger.

Pause

Taking a personal time out when you feel the urge to get angry will help you slow down the emotions. When you feel your blood starting to boil, take a deep breath and go take a moment away from the situation. This pause will help you think through the situation more clearly. Ask yourself “What’s my deal?” as you start to calm down. This helps you think through what the root of the problem is. Usually there are underlying emotions that are driving the anger to the surface. The root may also be something else not even related to the current situation. Triggers from past issues will often cause an angry reaction. This step requires you to build personal awareness and emotional intelligence.

It’s also important to think about what you really want the other person to hear when taking a pause. Maybe it’s that your hurt, disappointed or annoyed that things aren’t how you thought they should be. Make sure you also communicate what you need from the person. People HEAR you better when you speak calmly and more vulnerably. If you want to get your message across, taking a pause can help.

Practice

If you’ve had an anger problem for a long time, remember that it’s going to take time. Be patient with yourself as you practice. It’s not a light switch solution and there will be many glitches as you make change. Give yourself grace as you lean on the Lord for help, ask for forgiveness, and focus on taking the next healthy step.

There are many other strategies that help work through anger issues, but these are a few to get you started. What are some things you do to help you slow down the anger?