Inside: As women, we tend to blame overreaction on hormones, other people or circumstances that are out of our control. But really, the one thing that is the most responsible for our overreaction is us. But how do we go about getting control when we are out of control?! Are you struggling to figure out how to STOP overreacting? It starts when we stop blaming our behavior on the contributing factors and really evaluate our hearts.
The house was a mess. Toys, shoes, backpacks – they were EVERYwhere and I was SO angry about it. My house was so disorganized and I just couldn’t take another minute of it! I ripped through the front room, scooping up my kids’ stuff and launching it out the front door into the yard. I yelled and yelled…it was not my most stellar parenting moment. The real kicker is that I KNEW I was over-reacting. These precious children had been lazy about tidying up their belongings, yes, but they certainly did not deserve such a fit but I just could not figure out HOW TO STOP OVERREACTING!
The fact is that sometimes women overreact because it just feels good.
(Okay, this applies to men too, but I am going to focus my attention on what I know best!)
God created women to be emotional beings and so…WE EMOTE!!
And sometimes it gets LOUD and, if we are being honest, it even gets CRAZY. We may blame our overreaction on hormones. We may blame our overreaction on other people. And, sometimes, we blame our overreaction on circumstances that are out of our control (sleep-deprived moms, I know your pain!). And while all of those factors certainly play a part…
the one thing that is the most responsible for our overreaction is us.
So how do we STOP overreacting?!
Common suggestions on how to control my outburst…
- Memorize verses on anger in hopes they might come to mind in the heat of the moment.
I didn’t remember them when I needed them.
- Hang sticky notes all over your house that say, “God is with you!” in hopes that it would remind me to pray when things started to spin out of control.
I didn’t look at them when I needed to.
- Ask a friend to follow up with you about how you are treating your husband and kids in hopes that accountability will prevent you from behaving wrongly.
My friend followed-up. I confessed.
It’s not that these were bad suggestions, but clearly, I was missing something.
The fact is, I was still relying on my own strength to control my overreactive behavior. I was just certain that I could figure out some “trick” that would suddenly give me self-control. (Spoiler Alert: I never found it! )
And then, one day, I realized I had nowhere else to go but to God.
Now don’t misunderstand what was happening. I didn’t suddenly get “super-spiritual.” I didn’t pray for God to help me calm down. I didn’t pray that He would give me peace in the chaos. Instead, I turned my massive overreaction in His direction.
I screamed at God and He responded. (You can read more about that story here.) And when I finally gave up “trying” and begged God to do the work I hadn’t been able to do on my own, that is when I began to change.
There are 4 stages we must go through as we change our behavior with the help of the Holy Spirit.
ACKNOWLEDGE the sin
We have to see our behavior for what it is. There comes a point when we need to STOP blaming our behavior on the contributing factors and evaluate our hearts. Our outward behavior is a direct reflection of our inward struggle. We need to acknowledge that we are in the wrong!
There was a time when I had very little regard for protecting the relationships I had with my husband and children. Thus, I had very little awareness of how inappropriate my behavior was until God opened my eyes.
CONVICTION of sin
Once you acknowledged that your anger is way out of line, the Holy Spirit will start to work on changing you. When you lose your temper with your husband or kids, you will “hear” the Holy Spirit telling you it is wrong.
This “voice” did not suddenly stop me from flipping out. However, I did care that what I was saying, and how I was saying it, was damaging the relationships with the people I loved the most. I wasn’t just sorry. I wanted to change.
Repentance doesn’t just mean being sorry and apologizing. It means hating your sin and turning away from it. Like walking down the sidewalk and then turning 180 degrees and walking in the opposite direction. True repentance can only come after the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean you will never mess up again, but repentance will show the fruit of genuine changes in both demeanor and behavior.
I prayed God would help me see triggers before they were set off. I asked for wisdom on when to remove myself from situations that had the potential to make me crazy mad. When I lost my cool anyway, I confessed and I asked for forgiveness. Slowly but surely, I overreacted less and exerted self-control more because I was no longer fighting my sin alone, I was relying on God to strengthen me.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 English Standard Version
Spiritual growth is a process that you will go through your entire life as a Christian woman. You won’t “arrive” at any point because each time the Holy Spirit grows you in one area, He will reveal another that needs to be dealt with. Don’t be discouraged by this! Your spiritual growth is your witness to a world that doesn’t know Jesus. You can share your personal experience of change with others to point them to Him.
I am no longer the “Wife/Mom Bomb” I once was. I have replaced my anger habit with new, constructive behaviors (5 Ways to Break the Angry Habit). With the help of the Holy Spirit, overreacting is no longer my Default Mode.
Need more help on this topic? Check out this Focus on the Family Broadcast Game Plan for Having a Happier Family
If this post helped you in some way, please share it with others!