Transforming hate and anger into love

The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Hassidic movement, explained that ‘the world is a mirror’– the defects we see in others are a reflection of our own.

When Moses sent spies on a reconnaissance mission to Israel, they returned with an evil report about the land of Israel. The Jewish people then accused God of hating them .The commentator Rashi explained that God loved them – but they hated God, and they projected those feelings onto God.

Projection plays an important role in modern psychology. It is understood to be a defence mechanism that helps us deny seeing our weaknesses. We deny negative traits in ourselves and project them onto others. We therefore may come to hate others as we project our negative feelings about ourselves onto them. It’s also common for bullies and racists to project onto others all the bad that they feel about themselves and don’t want to face.

Another ramification of this desire to deny weakness is anger. It’s common to find that anger arises when a person’s inner insecurities or vulnerabilities are triggered. This can be a cause of much conflict in marriage and relationships.

These insecurities are often described in psychotherapy as ‘the wounded inner child’ as they may have their origin in painful or traumatic experiences in childhood. This part of a person’s psyche then becomes disowned and denied.

The Talmud tells us that anger can act as an inner teacher, giving us greater self awareness. It reveals to us our own hidden insecurities – the nature of our own wounded child.

Awareness, as Rabbi Salanter explained, is the first step of personal change and leads to control and transformation of these weaknesses. There are many methods in psychotherapy to deal with overcoming insecurities and our wounded inner child, as it provides a safe place to explore inner feelings.

Often there is unfinished business from the past that needs to be dealt with. The origins of the wounded child need to be understood and painful experiences expressed. This helps us heal and leads to greater self acceptance and love of ourselves. We can drop the desire to project negative feelings and become less angry. This in turn brings love and acceptance

On a spiritual level, accidents or coincidences do not exist. Seeing hatred and anger in others is a call for us to look inside and become more self-aware.

To face our inner demons and transform them. In doing so, we become more loving to ourselves and bring more love into the world.

In light of this, I have a few questions for my readers:

1) Think of someone you dislike or hate and ask yourself – do you have the same qualities that you dislike in that person?

2) Think of times when people triggered your anger. Is it triggering a feeling of insecurity or personal vulnerability in yourself?

3) What is the nature of this insecurity?

4) Is there a wounded inner child within you that that needs healing?

About the Author
Aryeh Sampson is a psychotherapist and Rabbi who lives in the UK . He is the author of 'Go to Yourself - transformation through Jewish wisdom and psychology'.
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