Sometimes you need to listen to anger, even though it can be hard. Anger is frightening; anger is sometimes cold and careless; anger can be stupid and hurtful with what it says and how it says it. But if you listen underneath the hurtful things, you can hear the sounds of sadness, fear or frustration. Someone that is angry feels all of his emotions; someone who is angry stops thinking sometimes because the feelings are just too big, too impossible to say the right way.
When you are sad, and you don’t think you can change it, sometimes you get angry instead, because feeling helpless is very frightening. If someone has done something very wrong to you and it’s made you lose something or someone, or even a part of who you are, of course you will feel sad. But at the same time, you will not be able to say anything about what you have lost, and this makes you very sad indeed. Sadness brings you down, and makes hope go away from your heart. So you might get angry, because being angry can feel much better than sadness.
And of course it is the same for other people! So listen for the sadness inside of the anger. Listen for the fear: the fear of being alone, of being helpless, or being not good enough or being someone that does not deserve love. This is a hard fear indeed! But you can hear the sound of this fear even inside the anger, and the same with the feeling of frustration, of trying and trying and trying again and again and having all your hopes dashed and all your work go back to nothing.
Anger feels so much better than any.of these things! Anger can be dangerous and unkind, cruel and unforgiving, yes, but if you can listen you can come back when the person is no longer angry and talk with them.
When some people are afraid they get angry; when some people get angry others feel afraid. Just remember the last time that someone was angry with you, maybe even yelling and screaming at you. Do you remember your first reaction? It was probably to hunch down and make yourself smaller somehow: to cower and back away and get out of the place where the anger was happening. But then, sometimes, you might get even angrier: you would pull back and then push forward, yelling back even louder, maybe hitting something or doing your best to make them feel afraid.
But you do know, don’t you, that you are really still afraid? When you step back before you rush forward, you are defending yourself, you are trying to fight off the danger your body feels, or your heart feels or that is always inside of you. It may seem strange but it is very true: Most angry people have a hidden fear, sometimes deep inside of them or sometimes so close to them that they never want to look at it because it feels so awfully uncomfortable. This means that they are afraid of their own fear! They become their own enemy: they lash out at everything because they feel as though everything means them harm somehow.
Now: you can’t really go up to someone that’s yelling at you and ask them, “What are you afraid of?” Of course they will react badly: you will be reminding them of the very thing that terrifies them the most. However, knowing that angry people are afraid of something helps you keep from feeling their anger, at least a little. They may be afraid of being inadequate. They may be afraid of having to take responsibility for something they did or something they didn’t do. They may be feeling afraid that someone’s love will go away and that they can do nothing about it.
When you see this, it may help you to understand them.
Anger is a lot like gasoline, and you would be wise to treat it that way by remembering: gasoline can be very useful, but is often very dangerous. You can store gasoline, but your need to store it in a container that doesn’t get eroded by gasoline’s chemical actions, or else your container will melt and let the gas out all over the place, making everything dangerous. For anger, this is a lot like the times you try to contain your anger with resentment: if you resent someone or something, but you can’t speak up about it, you could stuff your anger down, but the fumes from your “gasoline” of anger will make everything you do smell of anger and the fumes rising from your resentment could explode at any time.
Another way to deal with your anger “gasoline” is to try and store it in other things: you try to “store” your anger by distracting yourself with computer games, teasing some others so you feel stronger and better than they are or perhaps taking a walk. Taking a walk is the best idea: you can find out the hidden secret about anger that way. But storing up so much anger “gasoline” doesn’t ever make the anger go away. Sometimes you know this and store up your anger until you can create a big, big blast of screaming and tantrums. You might even like doing that because it makes people notice you!
But if you do that, you’re wasting your anger, totally. If you just blow up your anger so you get a big effect or even hurt someone with it, you’ve wasted it. Because the secret to anger is that, like gasoline, it can be used for fuel. If you have a big project to do, get a little angry about it! Like the engine in a car that takes a little gasoline and fires it to provide energy, you can use your anger to move forward! You can use it to work your way through something hard or difficult. You can use your anger to change things. Truly!
It is hard when someone dies, or when a beloved pet, plant or even a project comes to its end. If they have been at all good for you or to you, you miss their kindness and care; you miss their presence and all the things that they might have done for you and with you. If you have had to give up a favorite food because it isn’t good for your health, you miss it and wish you could still have it. If a beloved pet dies, you find yourself looking for that pet every day for quite a while.
If you are a gardener and something has happened to one of your precious roses; if you are a builder or a crafter and someone has broken something you worked for hours to make; if you have lost your best friend, someone even closer from your family or even an actor whose shows you used to watch, of course you miss them and missing anyone or anything can be very hard.
But that is the challenge: you have to miss them and think of them after they are gone but you have to miss them and think of them before they are gone. Sometimes you realize how much someone means to them only after that person is gone; sometimes you take so much for granted that you are sure that you’ll always have what you have now and, because you know you’ll always have it, you forget to remember that it is special and to take care of him, her, or it. You forget to value what you always have.
So that is a clue: if you really love a favorite food, do without it for a whole week and see how much you value it. Imagine that your favorite rose died and you can’t ever trim or water it ever again. Imagine how it will be when a pet, friend or family member would die, because everyone and everything dies eventually. Imagine these things ahead of time; if you can keep reminding yourself that they are still here, that things are still all right, then you can realize a little more of what you have, now, before it’s too late.