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Av 1

One whose anger and wrath are intense is not too far removed from insanity (Orchos Tzaddikim, Chapter 12).

It is not unusual to observe a person explode at what appears to be a minor provocation. When the response is so disproportionate to the stimulus, most likely the anger is not at all directed toward this provocation, but it has been displaced from some other target.

For example, someone becomes angry at his employer, but knows that to express this anger would jeopardize his job. His suppressed anger continues to churn within him and intensify precisely because it is being suppressed, because the frustration of not being able to discharge it adds to its fury. Upon coming home, someone in the household says or does something trivial, and our employee erupts with a violent outburst of rage.

Irrationality borders on insanity, since both essentially deny reality. In the above case, reality did not warrant so extreme a reaction; hence, the inappropriate reaction can be considered akin to insanity.

Granted that one cannot safely discharge his anger at his boss, but suppressing the anger is not the only alternative. A few moments of rational thought might help him get a handle on his anger. He might ask himself, "Why did the boss's comment affect me so deeply? Is it because I resent the superior-inferior relationship we have? Is it because I am insecure and I am interpreting his remark as a threat to my livelihood? Is it because his comment aroused self-doubts which I have been harboring?"

Analysis of an emotion can help dissipate it and prevent us from developing a short fuse which will result in an explosive reaction.

Today I shall...

try to analyze my anger and avoid developing an inappropriate response.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) mysteries, July 22, 2009 7:41 PM

humane working conditions

When at work people often take their job roles too seriously and lose the perspective of their responsibilities. They laud over the other employees and treat them badly. Of course stress has a lot to do with it but why direct one's anger towards fellow employees. If the stress and ensuing anger cannot be controlled then surely those employees should try to de-stress. By taking out stress onto other people it leads to problems in inter-employee relationships. This happens in every job because the human mind gets too excited at the having power over others and always without fail misuses it.

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