2013-12-13

Hastiness to judge other people unfavorably as one of the main causes for anger

In his weekly musar lecture this week our teacher Rabbi Naftali Weinberg showed us, using a real-life example, how problematic it could be to hasten to judge other people unfavorably. I had to agree with him completely and have realized that actually I myself am not different very much from some anonymous person mentioned in his example. Being a born cynic who is critical of everyone and everything, including, of course, myself, I have a tendency to hasten to judge other people unfavorably.

In a book I happened to read this week ("Anger Management for Dummies") I found that such hastiness to judge other people unfavorably can be one of the main causes for anger. I also had to agree with this book. We can never know for sure why someone did or said what he did or said. I used to haste to interpret any deed or speech unacceptable to me in a most negative way, which in tern made me get angry not only with that deed or behavior but even with the person who did or said it. Again I can never know why someone else did or said something, though there seem to be insensitive people.

When I lose my temper, my tongue can become a "lethal weapon". I used to directly criticize anyone who made me angry with his deed or speech unacceptable to me. But now I understand clearly that this response of mine was only destructive and even doubly in that it destroyed not only my relationship with that person but also my inner peace of mind.

It is not easy to start judging everyone and his deed and speech favorably, but I am trying now at least not to judge anyone unfavorably, leaving room for a possibility that I do not have enough information about what made him do or say what he did or said. This conscious effort to change my mindset seems to have already started helping me to get angry far less frequently. But I fear that I still have a long way to go to tame this "monster" inside myself.