My little daughter left for primary school one morning, after a big battle over something. I can’t even remember what it was now. We parted with the problem unresolved, unhappy words on our lips and clouds over our heads. It was such an angry goodbye.

I couldn’t believe what she was saying!

All day I felt awful as I replayed the conversation over and over in my mind.

Does that happen to you too?

“I coulda done this, or I shoulda done that.”

When I picked her up from school I apologized for the dreadful start to the day. And you know what? She’d forgotten all about it! So while I stewed over my words all day, she simply got on with things at school, and for her, it wasn’t even an issue.

It’s dreadful, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter how old your children are, an angry goodbye is that moment of having conflict when they are about to go somewhere. And sadly your emotions sit unresolved, while you fret and try to work out what to do next.

Well, I’ve worked it out now. Here’s what to do . . .

6 Steps to Get Past an Angry Goodbye

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“God designed humans to observe our own thoughts, catch those that are bad, and get rid of them.” Dr Caroline Leaf

1.      And Pause . . .

This first thing, to get calm, is really important. You can’t possibly sort out your emotions if you are tetchy. By all means, after the family member has gone, throw that shoe across the room, or grab that coffee or cup of tea. But do also take a few minutes time-out to take some deep breaths and center yourself. Choose to be calm. You won’t get anywhere by holding on to the anger.

As Joyce Meyer says, “Anger isn’t a sin, but if you let it well up inside you, there’s no telling what it could lead you to do.”

2.      Pray, and hand over your angry goodbye

Ask God to show you what’s going on. I find it helpful to write down what happened. Here are some questions for you as you write about your angry goodbye:

  • “Was there anything else going on that I should have noticed?”
    Sometimes people are cross with each other (especially children) because they’re hungry, tired, grieving or stressed about something else altogether. And it comes out as anger. Perhaps you are just an innocent bystander?
  • “Did I say something I should have left unsaid?”
    Upon reflection you might realize you got an angry response because of something you did or said that was unhelpful. In that case you may need to forgive yourself, It’s a good idea to be specific as you write this down. In addition, you will most likely need to forgive the other person.
  • “Help me see the situation from the other person’s viewpoint.”
    Changing your perspective, looking at the issue as if in their shoes, can often give you unexpected insight. Write that down too. It can sometimes be very humbling.
  • “I hand this situation over.
    Jesus was serious when He told his disciples, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:29-30 NIV)
  • Willingly let it go. He knows what you do not, and he can give you rest for your soul, even after an angry goodbye.
  • A reminder
    Psalm 10:17 (NIV)
    You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry

Angry goodbye3.      Make some choices

  • Now choose your attitude. Writing this down will help you too. Because while you don’t have control over the other person, you DO have control over your attitude. This includes your emotions, your thinking toward that person, and the way you think about the situation. Decide to trust God with the outcome, and trust that your family member will calm down too. As I discovered, there is nothing to be gained by worrying and fretting about the incident that occurred.

    It’s a good time to verbally re-affirm your love and commitment to that person, either by telling someone, writing it, or having a good chat to yourself! You could even write a short note to the person you were upset with, telling them that you love them no matter what.

    If the angry goodbye caused violent activity, either by you or the other person, then it’s time for a major re-think. You may need some professional help. There is no excuse for violence in a relationship. Ever.

    4.      Give yourself some time

    Once you’ve prayed, just get on with your day. However, if you are still feeling fractious, keep on choosing to hand the situation over to God. Your emotions and feelings are often slow to follow your decisions, so recognize you may not feel better immediately. Perhaps play some of your favorite upbeat music, and get busy.

    5.      Talk to someone about your angry goodbye

    If you have not already, have a chat to a safe friend, because sometimes off-loading to someone else is the best thing you can do. Before you begin, make sure you prime them to listen to you without judgement or comment.

    6.      Be prepared when you see your family member again

    You want to restore the relationship, and it’s okay to tell them you are sorry. Honestly, you have no idea if they will still be cross, or have forgotten the whole thing like my daughter did. Whatever happens, make sure you are open and ready to connect with them, because it may not as bad as you think. By being open and loving when you see them next, they are more likely to react positively to you.

    Restoring relationships is key to a healthy life. No one is perfect, and to live with anyone always means times of disappointment, followed by forgiveness and reconciliation. However, this is normal. Forgiveness is a critical factor in any long-term relationship, because forgiving someone doesn’t let them off the hook – it frees you!

    Have you had any moments when you’ve had an angry goodbye? What happened?

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