Dealing With Anger
It is a fad among New Age personal-growth gurus to preach that each of us should go back and revisit childhood, to relearn how it feels to be full of wonder and curiosity, happy, living in the moment.
Why is childhood such a joyful time? Because we are integrated. We have no past to feel guilty about and cannot imagine the future well enough to worry about that, either. Past and future are integrated into the present. We are in the “Mine!” state of mind, because what is, what we want, and what we think should be, are one and the same. (For more details on the “Mine!” state of mind, read my book Mastering Change: The Power of Trust and Respect [Santa Barbara, CA: Adizes Institute Publications, 1992].)
Our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual lives do not begin as separate entities, either. It is only as we grow and they develop, and the different aspects of our selves evolve at different speeds, that we start to feel disintegrated.
As I have remarked in previous Insights, I believe total integration is love.
Why is that so? Because when you love, you feel yourself to be part and parcel of the object of your love. There are no boundaries between you. You and your love feel like a single entity.
The New Age teachers who tell us to return to childhood are in a sense telling us to return to being in a state of love.
But it is not only New Age teachers who talk about love. Have you looked at any bumper stickers lately? “I ❤New York.” “I ❤ Las Vegas” “I ❤ my horse.” “I ❤ …” Love is everywhere. We encounter the same message in our synagogues and churches. (I do not know what one hears in a mosque, though). And those who know how to sell love, or even promise love, can make a flourishing business out of it.
Apparently the most basic need of human life is love.
Babies who are deprived of love, research shows, do not grow to their full potential. And children who do not receive love suffer emotionally in their adult lives. Without love, we die inside.
If this is true, it brings me to an illumination: All we do in life, beyond what we need to do to survive––like searching for food and shelter––is for love. What is our need for appreciation and respect if not a camouflaged need for love? Even our pets seek our love, and we need theirs.
Whoa! If that is true, then when we whine and bitch and moan, we are desperately calling out for love.
Wait a minute, now.
If all of this is true, then it has repercussions for how we handle anger. When someone is angry at us, may be that anger is just the manifestation of his fear of not being loved. And if that is true, your response, rather than reprimanding and correcting the other person, should be to show your love.
Hmm. Interesting, and it makes sense, too!
How would you treat a crying baby? Would you punish it for crying? Or would you hug it and love it in order to calm it down? Why not treat our spouses and teenagers the same way?
All interpersonal problems––and maybe personal problems, too––are either caused by the unsuccessful search for love, or are the consequence of being denied love.
I would even go further: I believe crime is a manifestation of a deficiency of love. A crime may simply be a plea for attention––for love. (I am not talking about psychiatric cases or may be they too desperately call for love?)
What do they give convicts nowadays to calm them down? Pet dogs, to love and to train. It is said to have a positive impact on the prisoners’ outlook, socialization skills, and discipline. Of course! The convicts finally have some love in their lives.
In the United States, what do hospitals sometimes bring to a patient’s bedside? Dogs, trained to lick thep atient’s hands and sit still to be petted. Why? Because showing and receiving love heals.
My mother, who had no education but was very intelligent, used to quote a Sephardic expression: “Love conquers all. Love heals.”
The correct response to an angry spouse may be love, not anger. Imagine a spouse who starts yelling at you. The usual response would be to yell back. What would happen if you said nothing, just went over and hugged her, just as you would hug a baby?
I admit that as simple as it sounds, it is going to be very difficult to practice. But let us at least try. And please report your results.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes