Got Anger? How Anger Prevents Accountability


I’ve noticed something about people who day in and day out practice PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY:

They’re in control.

They don’t fly off the handle or overreact. They don’t allow anger to take root, shaping their behaviors.

Being human, though, we can have anger that prevents us from being accountable. Here are three anecdotes:

  • As I entered the reptile store, a twentysomething stormed out. As we nearly collided, he yelled back at Rich, the store owner, “You knew I wanted that snake, man. I’m never coming here again!” Rich, a nice guy I’ve known for years, saw me and said, “He’s been in and out for weeks looking at a real pretty female Ball Python, but wouldn’t put any money down. I sold her to another customer an hour ago.”

Rich was right. The young man was wrong. 

  • A small dog from the neighborhood raced into our street, attacking a jogger’s husky. The runner desperately fought to separate the biting canines, finally succeeding. When the owner of the small animal arrived and saw his injured dog, he yelled, “You need to keep your dog under control!” The jogger responded, “But your dog attacked mine.” The man with the offending dog, now carrying his wounded pet, huffed off leaving the shaken stranger behind.

The jogger was right. The owner of the aggressive dog was wrong.

  • I sprinted to the Delta gate to catch my connecting flight from Atlanta to Athens, Georgia. Arriving just in time to watch the gate agent shut the jetway door, I pleaded, “But I made it!?” She said, “Sorry. FAA rules. I can’t reopen the door.” Boy, was I angry as I marched off to rent a car to make the 90-minute drive to Athens!

The Delta rep was right. I was wrong.

Here’s the deal:

When we allow our emotions to flare, it’s difficult to see what’s right.

And when we can’t—at the moment—see right versus wrong, we blame, whine, accuse, justify, complain, make excuses, and seek culprits. We ask Incorrect Questions (IQs) like, “Why did they do this to me?” “When will others treat me right?” and “Who made the mistake?”

Instead, we should ask QBQs (IQ/QBQ tutorial here) such as, “How was I responsible for what happened?” and “What can I do to swallow my pride?”

Bottom line, when we allow our anger to rule us, it’s virtually impossible to practice PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. Sure, it’s “human nature,” but thankfully there’s a solution:

Growing up.

As children, we make demands, pout, throw stuff, scream and yell, and try to tantrum our way through life. Hopefully, we have strong parents with outstanding parenting skills who help us grow out of these childish ways.

But “raised right” or not, accountable adults have learned to keep their emotions (especially anger) in check. Only then are we able to embrace the truth that sometimes we are wrong and others are right.

Simply put, possessing the maturity to say “My bad!” makes everything better.

For Comment:

How are you doing keeping your emotions under control? When does anger rule you most? What techniques help you keep anger in check? Share below!

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10 Responses

  1. To keep things in check my attempt is to own the situation. When I am at fault I OWN it. I hope this happens more than not (this is what I believe) and I continue to work on this. If an When I do not OWN IT and realize later I make every attempt to make it right by finding the person I wronged to make it right.

  2. Ouch, thank you John. I was recently confronted with an “anger management” issue, which underscores several issues. Personal accountability is certainly a foremost element, and the maturity to ask the question before acting is an ideal mindset solution.
    For me, too, I find that it’s a symptom of not trusting God, a failure to believe in His promise that He is good, and He has this under control. (What? It’s not me?)
    The disheartening part is that my witness to His grace is compromised when I react with anger. Thankfully, He loves me anyway, so we keep going, prayerfully growing in grace.
    So that’s where I’m at, so thanks, I “loved” today’s topic!

  3. One thing that I see happen, to me and to others, is that we try to mitigate the other person’s response. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have heard the phrase (or something like it); “I just don’t want them to be mad”. (Or hurt, or upset, etc.).

    When we act poorly, it is on us. When others act poorly, it is on them. Very simple.

    Two important issues: 1). I own my response. If I react, respond and behave appropriately, then 2). I am not responsible for other peoples response, reaction, or behavior.

  4. Anger was one issue I had lots of trouble understanding and controlling. A few years ago I tangled with a co-worker and while the issue was decidedly his my response was my issue. And unfortunately my anger clouded the real issue so he never had to deal with it. I was so frustrated at why when communicating with him I let him trigger my anger so strongly. I decided it was time to get to the root cause of this anger so I could identify the triggers. To my great surprise it came down to fear of being fired and my lack of trust that God would provide for me. I had been walking with the Lord for over 40 years and yet I still had this seed of distrust. I took that fear to scripture and countered it with truth and my life has changed. I still get angry at times but my response is so different now. I know it’s my issue. And I take the anger back to what it’s triggering in me and then take that to the truth of scripture. Sadly it took me 50 years to get to this point. And oddly enough I needed to learn to trust as I lost my job two years ago, am still unemployed today, although starting my own consulting business now, and have had joy in realizing how God has cared for me throughout this time. You are so right – someone may do something that makes you angry but your choice to be angry is exactly that – your choice/your responsibility!

  5. As a child and younger adult, I got angry. As I grew up, I realized my anger stemmed from frustration which was from lack of knowledge and lack of skills. I didn’t like that feeling of anger and frustration so little by little I learned what I didn’t know and practiced the skills that I needed. When a problem arises I set off to learn, not let myself get angry. Now later in my adult life, married 3 years, and with a toddler, anger could set in easy, but I always ask the right question, what can I do to make this situation better. When raising a child, there are many things that I have yet to learn. My job requires me to solve problems daily. Many of them I don’t know the answer. But ditching the anger and asking what do I need to learn solves problems better than screaming.

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