Why Am I So Angry?
What is the root cause of this highly destructive trait? What can we do to avoid that sentiment?
Our sages castigate one who becomes angry in a most severe way. In the words of the mystics, "Whoever gets angry is as if he worshipped idols".
In the Torah portion of this week, we read the famous episode where Moses hit the rock instead of just talking to it as they were instructed by G-d. Indeed, it was because of this incident that G-d prevented them from entering the land of Israel. Maimonides explains the severity of the punishment because Moses got upset.
Psychologists say that at the heart of anger is a deep sense of perceived or real injustice perpetrated against us. It is not the pain inflicted upon us that makes us upset. It is the fact that what has happened to us is perceived to be unfair.
The feeling of resentment is also made up of anger and here too it is sparked by a perception of injustice.
We all know that anger and all the emotions involved are extremely destructive. Our sages taught: “There are three types of people whose lives are not worth living: The hot tempered....” Or as once was very eloquently put “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die”.
As so often, it is the mystics who provide the most perceptive and effective cure for anger. The first Lubavitcher Rebbe in his magnum opus, Tanya, explains a teaching he received from the Baal Shem Tov in the most analytical manor.
The summary is as follows: It all begins with the principle that G-d created the world from nothing and most importantly continues to sustain its existence on both a macro and micro level every moment. Consequently everything that happens in this world is divinely ordained. When one individual does something harmful to another and the other becomes angry, it is tantamount to denying G-ds' oversight and judgment as it relates to the individual.
In other words, by accepting and internalizing this perspective, we accept everything that happens to us as divinely ordained.
To be sure we can and sometimes we must respond to an injustice. However, that can only be done in the constructive framework prescribed to us in the Torah.
We all have our own thoughts on how life should evolve in the short and long term. However, despite our hard work and good intentions, our understanding of the situation is limited. This is certainly true when a situation involves other parties, resulting in a more complex dynamic.
Therefore a more healthy approach would be, on the one hand to adopt a vision for the future and a plan for its implementation, whilst at the same time to allow for an ongoing flexibility in adopting modifications to the original plans. We do so with our eyes and hearts open to new possibilities and ideas.
We must always remember that whatever comes on our way or whoever crosses our path is in fact by divine providence. G-d is trying to teach us something, and it is in our best interest to listen very carefully. This will help us crystallize our vision, giving us a greater clarity and focus in achieving our goals.