The Cure for Anger


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. 


Yesterday, I used the daily prompt, dormant, to talk  about how anger that lies hidden deep inside can erupt into violence or descend into depression.  Today, I’m stretching a point in using today’s prompt, harmonize, to talk about how a person who has been very angry can learn to live in harmony with the other people in his life.  Here is the cure:

Yesterday, I wrote about anger and its results. You can see that article here:


Of course, there is much more to it than one short article can provide. What I shared yesterday, though, is a very common scenario for people who come to my counseling office for help with their anger. There can be other root causes for anger, but the result is always the same. The person who has been hurt or offended, especially over a long period of time, descends into self-pity, then to bitterness, and finally to depression. The depression will manifest with either anger and irritability, or with lots of tears, isolation, and thoughts of suicide. Either way, it’s a miserable way to live–and it’s not much fun for the people who live with the angry person.

So what is the cure? It’s complicated, as are all human emotions and reactions; however, it can be summed up in one word. The way to prevent a descent into self-pity, bitterness and depression is to learn to forgive. Forgiveness is the cure for chronic anger that leads to all those other miseries.

Because I’ve been doing counseling for 16 years now, I’ve already heard all the objections and excuses for why forgiveness is NOT the right answer. Here’s a short list of the most common objections:

But then the guilty person gets away with it!

But I don’t FEEL forgiveness–I just feel hatred, anger, or disgust.

But if I forgive him/her, then the bad treatment will continue!

Let me give you the reasons why forgiveness is so important.

First of all, God commands it. In the Bible, in Matthew 6: 9-13, Jesus made it clear the if we do not forgive others, then the Father cannot forgive us. Refusing to forgive is a primary cause of a broken relationship with God.

We forgive others in order to release ourselves from the prison of bitterness, depression, and our own anger.

We need to understand that when we refuse to forgive, the one(s) who hurt us continue to control our emotions, even from the grave.

Forgiving does not mean that we have to continue to accept abusive treatment at any level.

Finally, we can’t wait for the other person to ask for our forgiveness. They may never feel they’ve done anything wrong, and see no need to ask for forgiveness.

In my office, we often talk through these points over a period of several weeks. We don’t have that kind of time or space here, so I’m going to offer three more points that I hope will be helpful.

First, forgiveness is not just saying, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” Mistreatment and abuse are not okay. They need to be confronted and forgiven. If the offender insists he’s done no wrong, then the offended person needs to remove himself as much as possible from the abuse. There is help available through many avenues, including your state’s child protective services and/or shelters for victims of abuse; if you are a person of faith, there may be counseling available through your church.

Second, forgiveness is not a feeling or emotion. If we wait until we feel forgiving, it may never happen. Instead, forgiveness is a choice we make, an act of the will. It is a decision that is the beginning of a process.

Finally, forgiveness is a process, not an event. You will find that after the first moment you finally decide to forgive, you will feel an immense relief, like setting down a very heavy suitcase. But it will sneak back up on you when you least expect it, bringing all the ugly emotions back to life. At that moment, you have to forgive again. And again, and again, over and over, until even the memory of the abuse no longer engenders an emotional response. It gets easier with time. I know.

I would be happy to discuss any of this further in the comments section. I understand that just reading this once is probably not going to be enough. If you are struggling with anger, my prayer is that you will let it go, and learn to enjoy a life free of bitterness and defeat.


Wonderful Water


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


In the early morning, my elixir is coffee.  Stevia for sweetness, and French Vanilla creamer for richness, but not too much.  I like the taste of the coffee, and sometimes I drink it straight.

Later in the day, hot tea in the cold weather and iced tea during the hot months.

And all day, every day the elixir of life: Water.  Lots of water.  I keep  a glass at my desk when I’m working, and I empty it several times each day. At home, it gets carried with me around the house as I go about my chores.

I don’t do the bottled water thing unless I’m traveling. Never saw the sense in buying what I can get free out of the tap. Of course, we have well water and it tastes good.

When I was a kid, we’d take a trip out to Marshall, Minnesota to visit my mom’s father and his wife, Grandma Millie, whom we loved as much as if she had been our blood relative. But the water out there?  Ugh!  It was truly gross. Grandma Millie kept a pitcher in the fridge all the time, because the only way you could get it down was if it was too cold to taste.

America is blessed with an abundance of water. Rarely do we have to boil it to purify it, because we’ve learned so much about water treatment to make it safe.  We are greatly privileged in this country to have so much potable water, and we take it for granted.  We waste it.

My parents grew up in the Depression years, when water wasn’t plentiful where they were. You didn’t waste water.  You didn’t let the tap run while you brushed your teeth.  You put only an inch or so of water in the bathtub.  You threw dishwater into your flower garden, and laundry water doused the vegetable garden. If the only water you had was what you could collect in a cistern when it rained, then everyone took a bath in the same water–and you didn’t start with the cleanest person first.  You started with the men who had been out working, and were dusty, grimy, greasy.  They got the hot water.  By the time you got down to the smallest person, the water wasn’t very appetizing.

That’s all a little bit disgusting to us these days, but it was reality for thousands during those harsh years.  Most of the time, you took a sponge bath at the sink.  A tub bath was a once-a-week event.


Well.  Isn’t it interesting where one little word takes us.  From coffee to sponge baths.  And it all depends on that wonderful elixir of life, water.

Are You a Ruminant?


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Animals that ruminate are called, not surprisingly, ruminants.  They include cows, sheep, deer, camels, llamas, and more. To ruminate, for these animals, is to chew the wad of grass, swallow it, bring it back up, chew it some more, swallow it again, repeat. Repeat. Repeat.  At some point, there is simply nothing more to be gained from chewing that same cud over and over again.
Fascinating, right?
People, too, often ruminate.  It’s not a cud that we chew. Instead it is thoughts that we bring up over and over again, running them through our minds endlessly, long after we’ve squeezed every bit of good from that thought.
Ruminating isn’t good for people. It causes anxiety, doubt, and depression.  I can’t begin to tell you how many people come to my office because they are exhausted from endless rumination. Usually, they’re  trying to think up a “fix” for something that they simply can’t fix.  Often, it’s not their job to fix it.  However, they can’t leave it alone, and they hope that some idea will magically pop into their heads that will save the day.  Rarely does that happen.
Frequently, parents are guilty of rumination over their children. The mental rumination becomes verbal, and the kids tune out. They’re not hearing a word. It’s far better to say it once, set boundaries and consequences the parents are willing and able to carry out, and then just shut up.  It doesn’t take a child long to figure out they’d better pay attention the first time.
So how do you know if you’re mentally and verbally ruminating?  Here are some clues. If you catch yourself saying things like this, you’re probably ruminating:

“How many times do I have to TELL you. . . .”

“Okay, if I have to say it one more time. . . .”
“I’m going to count to three. . . “
“I’m so tired of hearing my own voice. . . .”
I was at the grocery store the other day, and I heard a mom count to three about ten times. The only way that little ritual works is when the parent is able and willing to follow through on the promised consequence. If you keep saying “One more time”  you’ve lost the battle and the war.
Rumination leads to depression. No one can run the same negative tape all day long every single day without falling into some degree of depression.  Learn to stop the ruminant thought and replace it with something better. For me, scripture is the cure. Or a hymn that I love. Or a conversation with a positive, uplifting friend.
   Ruminating, for us, is more harmful than it is helpful. Stop it.



Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Their are other words that immediately come to mind with today’s prompt.

Devastation:  The Great Depression, dust storms, grasshoppers, drought, thirst, soup kitchens, hobos, joblessness, flour sack clothing, financial poverty. BUT:  strength of spirit, hope, perserverance, charity, a fighting spirit, victory!

Image result for The Great Depression

Devastation:  War, destruction, death, greed, hatred, guns, tanks, power,  rape, terror, flight.  BUT:  Determination, hope, human inventiveness, the Underground, never giving up, courage, overcoming, victory!.

Devastation:  Domestic violence, pain, fear, love gone wrong, evil, selfishness.  BUT:  a broken spirit that revives and heals, standing for righteousness, determination, seeking help, leaving the abuser, victory!

Devastation:  A country divided, hatred, slanderous words, immoral behavior, destruction of property, fear, violence, a sense of hopelessness.  BUT:  Steadfast hearts, love overcoming hatred, working across the aisle,  determination, compromise, seeking what is best for all, victory!

Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Take It From Me

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone that you failed to take yourself?


“It will help your depression if you  avoid sugar, get outdoors in the sunlight, do some weight-resistance exercise, walk, ride your bike, focus on eating whole, non-processed foods.  Get enough sleep. And try to de-stress your life.”

Yeah.  Right.

Easier said than done, on all counts. Old habits are hard to break, and we here in the land of McDonald’s and Burger King have developed a serious craving for high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar food. And for sitting. Endlessly.

It’s killing us, not just in terms of blood pressure and diabetes, but also in relation to our moods.Not saying that depression didn’t exist before all these modern poisons, but it’s certainly increased in this hurry-up world we’ve created.

And no, I haven’t always taken my own advice.  I try.  I do better, then I do worse. A lifetime of poor habits, of “sitteritis” on the job for many years, has not helped my physical or emotional health. I haven’t struggled much with depression, really; just enough to know I don’t want to go there.

It’s obvious that the cure is lifestyle-related, and that we can all do better. Just, somewhere, we have to find the motivation before we’re stuck in a wheelchair and unable to help ourselves.

Well.  I’m just a bundle of cheer this  morning 🙂

The Rain on the Soil back Home

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say . . .. . . home.. . . soil.. . . rain.Use those words in the title of your post.


Ellie stood in her ramshackle kitchen, staring out the dusty window at the dusty yard that met the dusty field. There was nothing green in sight. Not one blade of grass, not a leafed-out tree or bush. The yard had been a showplace just a couple of short years ago, before the rain had stopped. Now, there was nothing but brittle brown stubble and tired old trees that didn’t have the strength to raise their branches to the sky.

Her prized roses? Huh.  Not much of a prize these days. What the dust didn’t kill, the locusts did.  Or the wind. The wind sucked the life out of everything, leaving desolation in its path.

Drought. Dust. Dry. Drained. Depression.  The Great Depression, they called it. That sure was fitting.

Ellie rubbed her eyes with her index fingers, trying to relieve herself of the itchy feeling the dust always left. Sighing, she picked up her rag and set about the useless business of trying to wipe the dust from the kitchen counters. When she finished that, she’d try to clean the dishes.  Thank goodness the well hadn’t gone dry yet. They rationed water as if it were gold, knowing that eventually, if it didn’t rain, the well would go to dry dust just like everything else had.

Years later, one of Ellie’s granddaughters would ask her, “Grandma, why do you always rinse out the glass before you fill it up with water?  It’s clean when you take it out of the cupboard, isn’t it?”

And she would reply, “Yes, Sweetpea, it’s clean.  It’s just an old habit of mine from the Dustbowl Days when no matter how clean the glass was when you put it away, the dust would get into it anyway and you had to rinse it out before you could use it.”

But this day, Ellie didn’t know she would survive this hell. She didn’t know she would live to see grandchildren running through the lush green yard and coming racing into the house seeking a drink. All she knew was that she was slowly losing her grip on reality, and if something didn’t happen soon, she may slip into a world where no one could follow her.

Sighing, she worked her way through the darkened house. John had boarded up most of the windows against the dust and the grasshoppers and the wind.  They did everything they could think of to protect themselves, but when a dust storm blew up, it seemed that the gritty stuff seeped through the walls themselves.  She’d taken down the curtains and stored them away, hoping for a better day.

Pushing the front door open, Ellie stepped out onto the porch.  The boards creaked under her light step. She took her worn out broom and swept the unrelenting sand and dirt from her wide front porch, down the steps, into the yard.  Futile as it was, knowing she’d be doing the exact same thing tomorrow, she stayed busy with the chore until it was as clean as she was ever going to be able to get it.

She looked out across the stubble in the field, squinting against the sun as she watched her husband pouring buckets of precious well water on a few remaining cornstalks. Her heart ached for him. He’d worked so hard, and all he had to show for it was a handful of still-growing plants.

Sighing, she turned to go back inside when she felt a little tug at the hem of her dress.  She glanced down, expecting to see the tired old dog asking for his water bowl to be filled.  Nothing there. Huh.

Then she felt it again, only this time her dress flattened against her body and her hair lifted off her forehead in wispy feathers.

A breeze?  Oh, no.  Another dust storm coming?  She really didn’t think she could stand it one more time as the black clouds of hatred rolled across the prairie, darkening the sky and covering the ground with filth. 

She turned to the west, expecting to see the tell-tale line in the distance, but there was nothing. Raising her eyes, she stiffened in shock to see a few greyish, puffy clouds rising from the horizon. Holding her breath in hope, she watched those clouds come racing toward the farm, beginning to fill the sky and creating a different kind of wind from the dust storms.

Her heart began to thump, then to race. Could it really be?  Those sure did look like rain clouds! Oh, John!  Would he see?  He was so intent on his task, his head was still bent so he couldn’t see up.

“John!”  she screamed as loudly as she could. “JOHN!  Look up!  Look at the sky!  Look!  LOOK!”

John’s head came up, turned in her direction. She pointed up toward the clouds, and he swiveled his head in the direction she pointed. He stood stock still for several seconds, then turned and began to race toward her, waving his hat and yelling for sheer joy.

They met in the center of the yard, hanging on to each other as the drops of mercy from the clouds began to spatter against the  hard, parched soil.  Then it drizzled, and then it poured!  Rain! Glorious, life-giving, thirst-quenching, well-filling, soil-healing, soul-healing, merciful rain!

They stood with their arms raised, letting the rain sluice down their tired bodies. Thoroughly wet, they turned into each other’s arms and hugged, then without saying a word, they waltzed to the rhythm of the falling rain until their feet were muddy and their clothes stuck to them.  They laughed.  They cried.

They thanked God.The rain would save the soil, and it would save their home.

It was a good day.