Anger: Let’s Examine It (Psychology and Judaism) and Find the Medicine
While reading this article “https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/more-feeling/202106/counteracting-the-anger-impulse-and-rage”, I contemplated on the idea of anger.
Having grown up in a Jewish home, with a background in studying the Bible, Talmud, and everything in between, I often heard different rabbinic statements:
“The life of those who can’t control their anger is not a life,” (Pesahim 113b)
“When a person becomes angry, if he is a sage his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet his prophecy departs from him” (Pesahim 66b)
“When someone becomes angry it is as if he has become an idolater” (Hilkhot Deot 2: 3)
While I was consistently told how bad anger is, as I got older I questioned: is anger controllable? Can we control our anger? How can the Rabbis make such hefty comments about something that is a natural reaction to different situations, comments, and ideas that may cause us to feel angry?
As seen in the aforementioned article, “IED” is categorized as an illness, but what about the layman’s anger? Is it really that bad?
As I pondered this question, I noticed that the rabbis may have wanted to distance a person from his/her anger, but it is quite difficult to control anger. Rather, I believe these principles set forth by the Rabbis were to ensure that an individual does not release their temper from being an emotion into a physical act. Just like IED is considered an illness once an individual commits different acts stemming from his/her anger, the Rabbis could never tell people: don’t be angry.
The famous Chasidic Rabbi, Nachman of Breslov, stated that the antidote to anger is being humble. While Judaism may explain this as recognizing that everything a person or people do to anger you is not rooted in those individuals, rather sourced from G-d, not everyone will accept that.
In my opinion, humility may just simply mean taking a step back. Yes, the individual or whatever situation angered you, but what is the deeper meaning behind that? Is that person having a bad day? Is the person going through things without receiving the help needed? Ponder about what is going on behind the scenes. Yes, it may be different if a person “personally” attacks you (sorry for that pun), but oftentimes acting out our anger only leads to negative consequences. I do not believe there is anyone who did things out of anger which yielded positive consequences.