The other night there was an incident; I was gripped by rage. I used to be a very angry person. Over the years my unbridled enthusiasm, as well as my anger, have become constrained. In some ways, my passion has been dimmed. I believe restraint is good. Restraint is a marker of maturity and inner strength. I also believe everything has at least two sides. One can appear to exercise restraint over themselves when in reality they are simply apathetic. Perhaps I have been apathetic to a degree.
I was very bothered by my angry outburst. I have noticed lately that small things have been able to make me very upset. I have noticed that my anger feels very good in the moment. I have noticed that I feel a little hollow after the haze of fury dissipates. I’ve made conscious efforts in the past to be less angry. I have sought counseling, I have looked into books. I had one counselor tell me that I didn’t really have anger issues. He did not spend much time with me and thinking back on the questions he asked, perhaps they relied too much on me being completely honest about my actions and feelings. Perhaps I wasn’t prepared to admit my actions or I chose to ignore them and the underlying issues related to them. Change almost always takes time and it is hard to trace it back to where it actually beings.
Change and growth through introspection and overcoming personal limitations is nearly what all my writing is about. It’s a concept dear to me because I always want to make myself a better person. About 7 years ago, my bride and I encountered a beautiful Yiddish word at the end of a marriage book written by a very wise woman with an amazing track record for setting up couples and helping them maintain lasting relationships. In chapter seventeen of “The Committed Marriage,” Rebbetzin Jungreis introduced us to the concept of “shteiging,” or growing step-by-step. She defines “shteig” as being in a constant state of growth or development. My wife and I were elated to have this word to identify what we had been feeling for some time was our way of life. We had been pushing and pulling each other to new plateaus and it was inspiring to be able to identify ourselves as shteigers. Names have power and we felt emboldened to keep growing armed with one.
I’ve loved this concept of constantly growing and improving myself for years, so why am I still so angry? I had to find out. I asked my wife to help me and she made an incisive observation: the things that upset me so much were likely things I struggle with. That suggestion started a little journey of self discovery. I have actually been equipped for this journey for a while. Over time the information and tools I need to solve the underlying issues that feed my anger have been within reach. It is likely that I have been deceiving myself for some time to avoid dealing with my inadequacies and the harsh reality that contributed to them.
I believe this story can be broken down into three eras of my life: early childhood, college and fatherhood. I studied some psychology in college, but my real familiarity with it came in the years since. Around eight years ago I became aware of Jungian psychology. Around the same time I read most of an interesting book about Sociopathy. At around seven years old I had learned of the subconscious and was fascinated by the prospect of it. Through each of these eras I gave the subconscious a lot of thought. I’d like to go back and consider my mindset in each era and how interacting with that “other me” has brought me to this day.