Editor’s note: This valuable story was shared to us by one of our readers. It is commonly shared between Palestinians, among others. However, we cannot verify the source or origination of this folktale.
There once was a young man who had trouble managing his anger. He was not a violent person, but if something failed to go his way, he would quickly resort to shouting and expressing his anger.
His mother and father urged the young man to contain his anger. But no matter how hard the young man tried, he just couldn’t.
One day, his father approached him with an idea.
“For every moment you feel angry, hammer a nail into the wall,” he told his son, pointing to a wall in his home.
The young man took his father’s advice. He found part of the wall hidden from view and marked it as his own.
On the first day, the young man hammered dozens of nails into the wall. He arranged them in a tight single file because he knew he would need as much space as possible.
After a few days had passed, he was still hammering nails into the wall. But instead of hammering thirty nails, he was hammering twenty-five. Instead of twenty-five, he was hammering twenty.
Soon enough, the young man had grown tired of climbing the stairs and hammering nails into a thick wall. Each time he felt angry, he thought about the nails and convinced himself to let his anger go.
Within weeks, he was no longer hammering nails into the wall.
Excited, he turned to his father and told him that he was managing his anger. His father gave him a new task.
“Now, for each time you successfully control your anger, pull one nail out of the wall,” he said.
In a short matter of time, the son had managed to pull every nail out of the wall. Not only was he stopping himself from getting angry, he felt happier and more in control of himself than ever before.
The young man returned to his father. Together they walked to the wall. His father pointed to one of the holes left behind by a nail.
“See these holes? They are still here. These are like the scars we leave on people when we get angry. No matter what you do and no matter how many nails you pull out,” his father said softly, “there will still be scars. You can apologize and try to patch it up, but it will still be there.”
From then on, the son understood the effect his anger had on those around him. He vowed to remain cool-headed and to channel his anger into positivity.
Special thanks to S.A. for sharing the story.