Never Get Angry Again - by David J. Lieberman


Never Get Angry Again - by David J. Lieberman

Read: 2024-02-21

Recommend: 6/10

This book covers an overly broad range of topics, including God, meditation, and psychology, which might seem excessive but could be essential for exploring the causes of anger. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on psychology, especially the distinction between self-esteem and ego, and the insight that our self-worth is not dependent on others’ opinions.


Here are some text that I highlighted in the book:

  1. Denying reality comes with a price. Exhausted and on edge, our ego edits our world to eliminate anything that will hurt or reveal us, either to ourselves or to others. Preoccupied with potential threats to our self-image, we are on constant guard. We hide behind a carefully crafted façade, and the identity that we build to shield ourselves soon becomes a shell encasing us. Over time, we fall into a hellish gap of unrealized potential, our true self weakens, and we feel hollow inside. We no longer live for ourselves. We exist only to protect our image, the ego. This includes all of the games we play and the masks we wear to show the rest of the world what we believe is the necessary persona.

  2. To compound matters, the less self-control we have, the more desperately we manipulate events and people around us, especially those closest to us—either overtly or passive-aggressively. We intuit that self-control fosters self-respect, so when we cannot control ourselves, we need to feel as if we are in control of someone, something, anything, to feel a sense of power. Low self-esteem can thus trigger a powerful unconscious desire to usurp authority, to overstep bounds, and to mistreat those who care about us. When we don’t like who we are, we cannot help but become angry with ourselves. Then we take it out on the world around us and on the people who care most about us.

  3. Each circumstance we encounter is like a blank book until we write the script with our thoughts. For instance, when someone acts rudely toward us, it doesn’t mean anything. This person’s words or deeds cause us to feel bad about ourselves because of our self-image. What does his opinion really have to do with our self-worth? Nothing. But that’s just what the ego does—it makes everything about us. The greater our self-esteem, the less quick we are to take offense because when we love ourselves, (a) we don’t assume that someone’s actions mean he doesn’t respect us; and (b) even if we do come to that conclusion, we aren’t angered, because we don’t need his respect in order to respect ourselves.

  4. The flaw in this thinking is a corrupted correlation between a person’s knowledge of us and his treatment of us. Just because someone knows you well, it doesn’t make him healthy. If a person has one hundred percent self-esteem, speaking theoretically, he would approach the entire world with love and respect. When conversing with a rude person, for example, he would be filled with empathy. His singular thought would be, How much pain must this person be in to treat someone as wonderful as me so poorly? Again, we can only give what we have. We give love. We give respect. How someone behaves toward you is reflection of his own feelings of self-worth and has nothing to do with your intrinsic worth—unless you (the ego) decide to make it about you.

  5. When we suffer from low self-esteem, we’re often afraid that something bad will happen to us after something good occurs in our lives. When fortune unexpectedly smiles on us, we feel anxious because of our sense of unworthiness. To alleviate our emotional tension, we might even sabotage our success so that we can fulfill our personal prophecy: The world is as we predicted.

  6. Further compounding our emotional strain is mistaking affliction for accomplishment. Sometimes we seek distress, rather than success, and tell ourselves that pain equals progress. So we might unconsciously create obstacles to give ourselves the illusion of forward movement. Here’s an example of a common tactic: The file that we absolutely can’t afford to lose, our cellular phone, our vehicle registration—just about everything and anything that we can misplace, we will misplace. Essentially, we manufacture a challenge in a controlled environment that, once overcome, gives us a sense of excitement and accomplishment. It is a feeble attempt to feel the rush of life without making the effort of living. In some instances, we devise these challenges because, unconsciously, we want to inconvenience ourselves. Feelings of guilt and self-recrimination cause us to inflict harm on ourselves—the very epitome of self-destruction.

  7. Let’s introduce another quote by Carl Jung: “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” If we accept ourselves, we also avoid a powerful anger trigger—the mirror effect. It has often been said that we feel annoyed by traits in others that we ourselves possess. This isn’t quite true. The very reason that we’re able to perceive certain faults in others may be because they lie within ourselves, but observing the trait and becoming upset by it are two very different things. Our intellectual observation becomes emotionally charged only when we have not yet accepted this fault within ourselves. If we accept a failing in ourselves, seeing it emerge in another evokes great empathy, because we know just what this person is going through. We can see through the lens of love and kindness, and we can better help him become more self-aware.

  8. Studies prove that we are inclined to dislike others more after we do them harm because we are unconsciously driven to distance ourselves emotionally in an attempt to reduce the cognitive dissonance. The internal conflict we create is, Why did I do this to this person? The justification must then become, It must be because I really don’t like him and/or he deserves it! Otherwise, we are forced to consider the possibility that perhaps we are not such good people or act unfairly and unjustly. This principle works in reverse, too. We like people more after doing something nice for them. If we do someone a favor, for example, we’re likely to have positive feelings toward that person.

  9. The ego favors suffering that is known, so we retreat to the relative sanctuary of self-inflicted wounds. But the genesis of growth—the key to getting unstuck—begins the moment we look at ourselves, not with condemnation, blame, and judgment, but with love, compassion, and patience. We will come to discover that we are not bad.

  10. A person who holds on to guilt or shame is not being noble, he is being selfish. Indulging his despair is the height of irresponsibility, well beyond whatever act led to feelings of guilt in the first place. He wraps himself in the comfortable numbness of self-pity—the drug that’s always within reach and never runs out—to avoid facing the pain of himself, his actions, and his life. He declares that he is worthless—so damaged, bad, and broken that he is beyond repair or reproach. This unconsciously motivated, ego-driven tactic cleverly recuses him of responsibility because he doesn’t deserve to be happy. He thereby avoids the pain of accountability and the burden of obligation.

  11. The ego relishes creative acts in order to make its mark on the world—an illogical pursuit of monuments and awards, anything that will stand the test of time.

  12. Our ego thirsts to be special, desperately longing to set itself apart, even if it tears us apart. It doesn’t care whether the goal is accomplished through productive or destructive means. It seeks only to make a big splash.

  13. Becoming anger free must be your number-one priority. Don’t think of this as a hobby, where you dabble only when you’re inspired and it’s convenient. Neural networks are competitive, so you need to activate the new response with more frequency, intensity, and duration than your anger-prone network.