Excerpted from Prison Fellowship’s Prison Survival Guide.
The following resource was adapted from the Winter 2023 edition of Inside Journal®, a quarterly newspaper printed and distributed by Prison Fellowship® to correctional facilities across the country.
Written specifically for incarcerated men and women, each issue (offered in a men's edition, a women's edition, and a Spanish-language edition) explains the Gospel in a fresh way, offers encouragement and motivation, and shares practical advice for the daily struggles of prison life. Distributed to prisoners via chaplains, program coordinators, and in-prison volunteers, Inside Journal provides a unique way to share the hope of Jesus with those who may never attend a chapel service or Bible study.
5 TIPS FOR MANAGING ANGER BEHIND BARS
Prison can really test your limits. Maybe you’re seeing red because your lawyer is working too slowly on your appeal. You’re annoyed with your spouse and friends because your commissary money didn’t arrive. Someone says something rude to you. You get turned down by the parole board. All these things can trigger rage.
Although you can’t control other people, you can learn to control your reaction to them. Here are five ways to start managing angry moments.
1) EVALUATE YOUR THOUGHTS.
Walk away to avoid saying something you’ll regret in the heat of the moment.
Count to 10. Take deep breaths.
2) GET MORE INFORMATION BEFORE REACTING.
You can’t read people’s minds, so you may never know all the reasons for a person’s behavior.
If you’re married and your spouse hasn't been answering your calls, instead of assuming they no longer care about you, consider other explanations. Perhaps they're sick. Their phone may be lost. Maybe they picked up another work shift to temporarily help their parents with their medical expenses.
Before you leap to conclusions, try to stay calm until you learn the whole story.
3) IDENTIFY POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS.
Don’t focus on who’s right or wrong; focus on a solution.
Instead of stewing in anger over your unanswered calls to your spouse, maybe the two of you can agree to write each other weekly. That way, feelings won't run wild when you can't call or when they're unable to answer.
Just remember not to overreact if their letter is ever running late.
4) RELY ON GOD FOR YOUR WORTH AND SECURITY.
You may feel anxious, weak, or worthless when you believe the ugly things people say about you. Don’t let unkind people have power over you.
Your worth is not based on whether someone treats you with respect.
Your worth is established by God, and He values you. As you grow in your relationship with Him, you’ll stop making other people responsible for your feelings.
5) BE WILLING TO FORGIVE.
Forgiveness pours cool water on wounds and begins healing. It doesn’t mean you’re allowing yourself to be a doormat. Forgiveness is about refusing to allow your pain to make you bitter.
The prison environment breeds anger. But when your thoughts are raging and you feel like lashing out, remember you have options.
Take the energy you would have spent on anger and use it toward being at peace with yourself.