Anger and Fear

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.  

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