Friday, January 29, 2010

The courage to change for the better

I'm working on overcoming some of my most blaring and prominent imperfections, and it is hard. Apparantly I'm not alone because in this month's First Presidency Message in the Ensign, they ask,

“In the search for our best selves, several questions will guide our thinking: Am I what I want to be? Am I closer to the Savior today than I was yesterday? Will I be closer yet tomorrow? Do I have the courage to change for the better? …

One thing I'm really working on overcoming right now is anger. I generally would not classify myself as an angry person. However, it is something I've really struggled with in the last couple of months. I can easily blame it on things like "hormones" or "postpartum depression" or "lack of sleep", but while those things may be true, my children are looking to me as an example of what is right and acceptable. I'm not angry all the time, but I have found myself to be "easily provoked" (mainly by disobedience and what I assume is "normal" 2 year old behavior), and I often respond inappropriately when my anger flares.

After reading President Monson's talk School Thy Feelings, Oh my Brother (from Priesthood session in October), I decided I needed to take ownership of my problem and somehow try and rectify it asap. After all, children learn more by what we do than what we say, and I've noticed that Dean's picking up on some of my bad temper habits. So, in order to help him learn to choose right and have self-control, I have to learn to control myself. Even if I'm tired, hormonal, stressed out, etc.

Yesterday during my scripture study I chose to look up anger on the LDS website.

"Anger is the mother of a whole brood of evil actions. " Gordon B. Hinckley, 2007 October conference.

"Anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything." Thomas S. Monson, 2009 October conference quoting Lawrence Wilder

"To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible." Thomas S. Monson, 2009 October Conference
"Our example of love, helpfulness, tolerance, and cooperation can set a pattern children will follow in handling their angry feelings." “Dealing with Anger and Contention,” Ensign, Sep 1988, 62

After reading about anger, I didn't feel particularly lifted up. Nor did I feel better equipped to deal with my anger. I mainly just felt guiltier about my behavior.

So I asked myself what the antithesis of anger was.

Some possibilities were: Charity, inner peace, and temperance

Since I don't have time to delve into all of these at once, I'll start with charity first and hopefully do later svithes on inner peace and temperance.

On Charity
: The Pure Love of Christ

I love what the Apostle Paul has to say on the subject. We can have a whole slew of gifts, but unless we have charity, they won't do us a darn bit of good.

" And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Moroni 7:45) I actually printed this one out and posted it on my wall to remind me.

In one of my favorite GA talks of all time (The Challenge to Become), Elder Oaks says, "The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, “the pure love of Christ” (Moro. 7:47), is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes." (emph. and italics added)

Elder Wirthlin said, "The most cherished and sacred moments of our lives are those filled with the spirit of love. The greater the measure of our love, the greater is our joy. In the end, the development of such love is the true measure of success in life. Do you love the Lord? Spend time with Him. Meditate on His words. Take His yoke upon you. Seek to understand and obey, because “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” When we love the Lord, obedience ceases to be a burden. Obedience becomes a delight. When we love the Lord, we seek less for things that benefit us and turn our hearts toward things that will bless and uplift others. As our love for the Lord deepens, our minds and hearts become purified. We experience a “mighty change in … our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”

I am ready for a change for the better.


Him, Her & The Wee One said...

I loved this post, Celia. We had someone speak in church on the 'School They Feelings, Oh my Brother' talk a few weeks ago and it made me really take a step back and notice how easily irritated I am. Thanks for publicly disecting the topic a little more.

FoxyJ said...

Stress and post-partum hormones left me with some serious anger issues a few years ago, and I think I spent too long avoiding doing anything about them. When I finally started therapy I think I was hoping that would magically 'fix' them and make them go away, but what I realized was that even if I fixed the anger I still had created habits of responding to situations that I had to change myself. So I guess what I'm saying is that it is important to work on both the reasons for the anger/frustration as well as the ways you respond.

For me, it wasn't just a spiritual issue. Prayer and scripture study helped. So did fixing some of the physical issues--like getting more sleep, exercising, and making sure I ate enough at regular times during the day (protein, not sugar too). Some good books that helped me with better thinking skills were: Willpower is not Enough (from Deseret Book), Feeling Good, and Honor Your Anger (by Beverly Engel). A really good parenting book I read recently was called "Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles"--I liked it because it focused on parent attitudes as well as kid behavior.

Anyways, I think this is a common problem for a lot of parents with young kids. I've never been an 'angry person' and never thought I'd yell at my kids, but it's easy to get in that habit. Hope some of this helps!

Lindsay said...

Good post. I think this is something a lot of mothers have to work on -- myself included. But it can be hard when, at the end of a very long day with two energetic little boys, all you want is for them to go to bed so that you can too, and all they want to do is stay up and goof around. My patience is especially thin when I'm exhausted, which I am most of the time. But I'm trying. Handling situations like this are something that I've also been trying to work on lately. Two baby steps forward, one baby step back, it's starting to get a little better.