Sunday, March 8, 2009

Overcoming Anger, Resolving Conflict

Today in our parenting class we finished up the chapter on overcoming anger. I want to share a letter written by a woman because it relates to defusing anger-provoking thoughts. We should look for alternate explanations for the situations we get angry about. This letter is a wonderful example:

Dear Friends,

For nearly a decade I have been among the ranks of I-15 commuters. Each night after work, I usually find myself stopped by the red light of a busy intersection-one right turn and one left turn away from home. At least one or two night a week-almost like clockwork-the driver waiting behind me will impatiently blast the horn, "encouraging" me to make the right turn. Each time this happens, I experience a certain amount of frustration; some nights I have my feelings hurt, and other nights-depending on my day-I am just plain annoyed.

The other night as I sat waiting to turn right, a particularly angry driver waited behind me, honking, yelling, and waving. As I looked into my rear-view mirror, I thought to myself, 'does he really think I wouldn't turn if I could?' Then it suddenly occurred to me that none of the cars waiting behind me have ever known that as soon as I turn right, I have to quickly cross three lanes of oncoming traffic to turn left into my subdivision.

A smile crossed my face as I mused about the possibility of pushing a button to illuminate blinking lights around a sign in my back window: "I'm sorry. I'd really like to make this right turn. However, I am trying to make it to that subdivision across all three lanes of traffic." Almost as quickly as this thought came, another more sobering thought entered my mind. What if we all had a sign hanging around our necks explaining to those around us just what our particular circumstance was at the moment? "I'm not feeling well today." "I'm struggling with depression." "I'm worrying about a wayward child." "I was up all night with a crying baby." "I had my first chemotherapy treatment today." "I just lost my job." "I'm caring for an aging parent." "I'm feeling discouraged." "I'm lonely." The list could go on and on.

With this thought in mind, I began to think how differently I might treat others if I could read their "sign." Sadly, I thought of times when I may have judged others unfairly or perhaps had not been entirely sensitive to another's needs or circumstances. I thought of the Savior-who knows the very depth of our pain and the eventual outcome for each of us as we endure our own "refiner's fire." I thought of a quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson that hangs on the wall in my office: "With celestial sight, trials impossible to change become possible to endure."

That night as I wrote in my journal, I committed earnestly to endeavor to treat others as the Savior would. To really try to see the "sign" another may be wearing. To remember daily the tender mercies so generously bestowed upon me. To live having perfect hope in the Savior Jesus Christ-knowing it is only He who knows our hearts and our trials from the beginning to the end.

How much better would we be if we carried this spirit of generosity and kindness with us throughout each day? This relates to our family, friends, and strangers.

A wonderful article entitled "Love, Limits and Latitude" appears in the August 2008 Ensign. It comes highly recommended related to this topic of parenting:
On the left-hand side of the page is the table of contents. Just find and click on the article "Love, Limits, and Latitude."

With regards to resolving conflict, we should be sure to build up a reserve in our children's 'emotional bank account' so we have sufficient funds when we need to make a 'withdrawal'. We should have such a strong, positive relationship with our child that there is no question in his mind how much we cherish and love him. Then the discipline is received and is not harmful to the child. There is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 stating we may need to reprove a child "betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost" and then show "an increase of love" so the child is reassured of your love. This reproving should happen rarely and with gentleness. The word betimes means it should happen immediately or soon after the incident, and the word sharpness in this context does not mean with anger or forcefulness, but clearly and distinctly.

Wishing you the very best wishes this week in the wonderful world of parenthood!


buildingburkmemories said...

Wow what a powerful message this know you just never think of that when you come across things in life...and that is because we are so quick to judge others on the thanks for this message and the incite that it brought to me today....I too hope that I can see the sign that they are wearing so that I can help them out some way or another. I love these message that you choose to right about they help me thanks!!!!!!

Rachael said...

What a great perspective - thanks!!!

Maren and Blake said...

What a great letter and thought. I too am going to try harder to recognize people's 'signs' and be more loving and compassionate. I wish they offered this type of class to our stake.

Chrissy said...

I love the phrase "refiner's fire". :)

I recently read something similar regarding how obstacles only appear unmanagable when we view them with a "me perspective" and not a "God perspective". Sounds like you're taking a great class!