Conquering Anger: The Five Step Plan

By D Kaye
Essays 2016

MyLife Essay Contest 2016


Ok, I’ll admit it. I get angry. Not once in a while, but almost every day.  Back in the days when I was still single, I hardly ever raised my voice. Life was easy. No financial pressures. No kids dribbling milk all over my freshly washed floors or ignoring my orders to go to sleep. No laundry piling up or work deadlines to meet. But now I’m in the trenches. And I’m not facing the curve balls coming my way in an honorable way.

This morning I had a hard time getting one of my kids up for school. I watched the clock inch forward and my blood pressure inch forward along with it. My repeated warnings fell on deaf ears. Then I lost it. The kid got to school, I hope on time, but the price I paid was too dear. I thought about this incident today and about all the other incidents where I let my fury rise unchecked and spill over headlong like hot lava rushing down a jagged mountain. I needed to change course. Fast. Or there would be no telling where things could head.

I studied the writings of Chassidus on how to approach anger and it inspired me to develop The Five Step Plan:


  1. Ask Yourself-What is Hashem Trying To Tell Me?

The Talmud tells us that anger is akin to worshiping idols and in Epistle 25 in Igeres Hakodesh the Alter Rebbe explains why:“The reason is clear to those that have understanding: because at the time of his anger, faith has departed from him. For were he to believe that what happened to him is of G‑d’s doing, he would not become angry at all. And though it is a person possessed of free choice who is cursing him, or hitting him, or causing damage to his money, and therefore is guilty according to the laws of man and the laws of Heaven for having chosen evil—nevertheless, as regards the person harmed—this was already decreed from Heaven, and “the Omnipresent has many deputies.”

Getting angry is not going to solve the problem. In fact what you’re really saying in a rather blatant way is that you don’t trust that what’s happening to you is from Hashem. Instead ask yourself, “What message is Hashem trying to send me?  What am I meant to learn from this?”[1]

  1. Remind Yourself- Mending This Won’t Be Easy

In Letter 6670, the Rebbe advised a young woman, “Keep the mitzvah found in the Code of Jewish Law, that if you hurt someone’s feelings—even out of anger—you must apologize in person and ask for complete forgiveness… It is by nature difficult for a person to apologize. Nevertheless, you should overcome that difficulty and do it. That itself will help you weaken your tendency towards anger.”[2]

So it’s the end of the year and you’re doing a reckoning and scrolling through all the blunders of the past. You want to repent for those outbursts.  Believe it or not the only way out is to swallow your pride and ask for forgiveness. Not very pleasant. Imagine this before you let those hurtful words spill out.

  1. Remember-Someone Is Watching

In Chapter 41, the Baal Hatanya writes, “Behold, G‑d stands over him, and the whole world is full of His glory, and He looks upon him and examines his conscience and heart if he is serving Him as is fitting.”   [3]

Repeat these lines until it becomes your mantra. Envision Hashem standing before you, watching your every step. Could you say these words or act this way in front of the King of Kings?

  1. Tell Yourself , “I Am the Master.”

The  Rebbe taught, “You are the master over the animal within, not the slave.
Just because it burns inside like a furnace doesn’t mean you must obey.”  [4]

Your kid turned the faucet on full force and let the water overflow to get your goat. Remind yourself, “I am the master.  I will face this with dignity. I will not do the anger dance. I am no longer a slave to my evil inclination.”

  1. Replace Anger With Unconditional Love

The Rebbe taught, “It is said that all our exile is due to the sin of unconditional hatred.
When each one of us will start with unconditional love in our own domain, from there it will spread to all else that we do, and from there to the entire world” [5]

Your husband did something that upset you. You want to say something hurtful. Conquer the urge. Judge him favorably.  Express your hurt in a respectful way. Swap your negative feelings for unconditional love.

The Rebbe explained that there are sparks of light hidden in this world. Some are easily found and redeemed. But others are so intense that they are hidden behind a thick veil of darkness and are difficult to reveal.  The only tools to redeem them are beyond our intellect and senses. These are the hidden strengths that we discover when our inner resolve is challenged.[6] Overcoming those tests is what builds the self and the world.

So, I’m all set to tackle this. I will ask, “What is Hashem trying to tell me?” I will picture the shame of having to ask for forgiveness. I will remember the King is watching. I will be a master and not a slave. I will replace anger with unconditional love.  I’m prepared for a scenic bumpy journey. I may land flat on my face sometimes. But I’m prepared to get up and shoulder onward.  Perhaps one day I’ll discover those hidden sparks of light.



[1] Kaminker, M., How To Deal With Anger,

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Freeman, T. , Daily Dose of Wisdom

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid