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Dog Days Can Make You Growl

Are humans more irritable in the late days of summer than during other months of the year? The ancients certainly believed that rising temperatures in July and August caused a rise in tempers. The so-called “dog days” of summer can make people and animals angry and wild. Our patience, like our fuses, can shorten considerably when the heat and humidity are suffocating.

Climate aside, how “Christian” are we when it comes to dealing with the deadly sin of anger, our own or that of others?

Solution #1: Walk away, even if it’s only for a jaunt around the block or to take a deep breath and count to ten. This remedy works for both the angry person and the recipient of the anger. This “time out” gives the angry person a chance to cool off. After all, any strong emotion, particularly anger, clouds our judgment. So even when our anger is justified, we don’t want to escalate our tension to the point of saying something we’ll regret later.

Also, it is impossible to argue with people who are angry because angry people believe they are right. It’s best to postpone any dialogue until the other person’s anger has subsided and a “Christian” conversation is actually possible.

Solution #2: Switch perspectives by peering through the other person’s lenses to help diminish anger. A little-known fact about our species is that we cannot adopt another person’s viewpoint and simultaneously be angry with that person. Can we visualize an injustice when we take his or her point of view? Would we be just as frustrated and upset if our positions were reversed? If so, can we realize why the other might perceive his or her anger is justifiable?

Solution #3: Recognize and respect where the other person is coming from. More than anything, angry people want to feel understood. They want to know that someone else on the planet comprehends what they’re going through. This does not necessarily mean “agreement.” But it does mean acknowledging and appreciating their experience of the situation.

Solution #4: Accept misplaced anger as a compliment rather than a threat. Angry outbursts make adults appear childish and out of control. When an angry person gets “in our face,” it’s extremely difficult for us not to become hostile in return. However, if adults regress into a tantrum in our presence, this may say more about their placing trust in us rather than them being a threat to us.

Solution #5: Pray, not as a last resort, but for continual support. Prayer works. God hears our prayers and answers them by giving us the graces we need when we need them. Moreover, our concentration shifts from selfish to selfless when we turn the spotlight away from ourselves and more toward God. Our focus becomes less on our pain and more on our power. Our confidence will build as a result of our belief that the strength of God will bolster our weaknesses.

Adapted from Holy Homework: Putting Our Interior Faith Into Exterior Practice by Fr. Bob Pagliari, CSsR (Liguori Publications, 2022), 828638. To order, visit or call 800-325-9521.

Published inReflections