I was browsing the internet last night and stumbled upon a question that gave me some pause. It truly made me stop and think. The question was “ What were the last regretful words that spewed out of your mouth?” A fairly direct question , isn’t it? It is also one that every living, breathing soul can answer. The reason we all can relate to this is because we are human, and human beings are emotional. Usually when we say something that we regret, the words were motivated by another volatile and sometimes explosive emotion. This emotion is anger, which is the topic of today’s blog.


        There is a famous saying which is “ Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech that you will ever regret!”  I have researched the wise originator of this quote and found it attributed to three different names. It holds so much truth that apparently more than one individual is claiming credit to be the first to say it. Regardless of who first penned this profound thought, it is definitely one that would do us all well to memorize and file away in our brains and hearts. If we would determine to live by this quotation, it is untold how much hurt we could spare in our own lives and in the lives of those that we love and care about.


        I recently read an article written by a young wife who was recounting some of the bitter feuds and squabbles that she and her former husband used to have. She told of how in the midst of heated arguments, in anger he would yell statements like “ I wish that I had never married you! ” and “ I wish we had never had our children!”. In the article she went on to say that she would be so utterly crushed and devastated by those unbelievable statements that she would cry for most of the night while he seemed to be sleeping peacefully. What amazed and confused her the most however would be his demeanor and behavior the following morning. He would act completely normal, talking and acting as if nothing had happened the previous evening. She explained how baffled she was that the same man who hurled the most outrageous remarks that shattered her heart and emotions was being chipper and talking during breakfast as if all was well. She would confront him on this difference but it was as though she was talking to a brick wall; he just could not understand the power and effect that his words had. She would also address this habit of his in counseling, and again, even when an objective third party would attempt to get this husband to see the damage that he was doing with his words he could not see it. This was truly a man who did not understand the power of the unbridled tongue.


        How many folks reading this right now can relate? Perhaps you are the one who has a tendency to lash out in what you say, or maybe you are the one who is that target of words born from anger. Whichever category you find yourself in, the prognosis for the relationship is not a good one if something doesn’t change. Anger is a powerful emotion and one of the most common ones that wreaks havoc in all relationships across the board. It raises it’s ugly head between husbands and wives, parents and children, friends, colleagues, bosses and employees , neighbors and the list is endless.


        Age has much to do with a lack of control in the anger category. The young and impulsive seem to struggle more with losing control of themselves when angry. I well remember our children when they were small sometimes saying some of the most bizarre and extreme statements when they were wild with anger. One specific incident that comes to mind is one of our sons when he was about nine years old. I forget the exact circumstances, but if my recollection is right, my husband had sent him upstairs to his room for some now forgotten infraction that he had committed. As he was stomping up the stairs, he whirled around and yelled “ I hope that you get black cancer!”  My husband and I looked at one another and I said “ What did he just say? Did he just say what I thought he did?” and my husband slowly shook his head up and down. Needless to say, that rather shocking outburst was dealt with accordingly but isn’t that a classic example of a young person who was seething inside, ready to burst and so his mind hatched the most shocking, most horrible image that it could think of? Our precious, dear son then let it come spewing forth with all of the rage and indignation that his little nine year old self could muster. Anyone relating right now? Of course you are, we all are. At one time or another, we have all been guilty of the same thing. Perhaps you did not say something quite so repulsive or nasty however we all have let some words come flying out that we would love to be able to retrieve and shove right back in if we could.


        The key is recognizing the emotion behind the words…which is anger. Some folks have a much more difficult time managing this emotion than others. Experience has taught me that along with the factor of youth, that the bold, outgoing, talkative and dominant sort of personality struggles so much more with keeping their anger in check. One reason is because these people tend to be much less patient in their lives. It does not require a doctorate in behavioral studies to understand that patience and anger are closely related. Those calm, steady souls who possess a good deal of patience seldom find themselves agonizing over words that they have launched at someone else. On the other hand, folks like me and others who may occasionally tend to react and not respond (there is a huge difference in the two) can be ones who are reaching out to retrieve already spoken words. For me personally, I have failed in this area most when I am involved in a situation involving my kids. My children and grandchildren are the weak, trigger points in my life in which my emotions run high and where I can blow it in the area of reacting in anger. I am like a mama bear with her claws out if I sense them being attacked or criticized. That can be a good quality at times, however it can also trip us up if in our relationships with others if we are not patient and prudent in our reactions.


        How about you? What is your area in which your anger can have a grip on you? Is it the workplace? Could it be only in your home? I have known people who treat everyone outside the four walls of their home like gold, yet those that they live with, their family, they chew up and spit out routinely, just like brushing their teeth. Take a good long look at just you, the guy or gal who is staring back at you from that mirror each morning and ask yourself if you need some adjustments when it comes to this all important thing called anger. Your life and those lives that you love the most can really benefit if you will seriously give it some thought.


        That famous quote once again is “ Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret”  It packs much wisdom in it’s warning.    


        If you find yourself welling up with anger, count to ten, take three deep breaths, say a silent prayer, walk outside but don’t open that mouth. If you can keep that tongue from wagging, and those lips from moving, you will also not be regretting a speech that should never have been spoken.


Easier said than done, but worth attempting.

Are you willing to try?