I wrote an article recently titled, Aggression: Ironically a Sign of Fear, making the point that, “Paradoxically, aggression is frequently a defensive reaction. Just as normally timid animals, when they cannot run away, will bite as the last line of defence, so we will attack, physically or verbally, when their (sic) is no acceptance of our arguments, wishes or values - and no apparent possibility of such acceptance…. aggression indicates the need for care.”
The unfortunate fact of life is we all have to deal with aggression. Whether it’s first-hand, second-hand or third-hand we all see it, and none of us are immune to it. Aggression elicits various emotional reactions depending on whether we’re the victim or the perpetrator or even an innocent bystander.
But, fear is almost always the result--for both sides party to it, and even those not directly involved! (Fear is even behind the so-called “fun” or sadistic humour that people engage in at the expense of others.)
Let’s say in our day to day we react to an aggressive person--they, being the aggressor, have already acted out of fear. They intuit fear in us. This happens, for instance, when someone wants to have ‘that chat’ with us to probe us for perhaps failing them. Our reaction is then stilted, mainly because we’re battling an attack--we’re feeling attacked and naturally defensive as a result.
What to do?
Any reaction out of fear or to match the aggression with aggression will not normally help.
One of my favourtie proverbs says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife.” And it works the same for fights; when we remove the fuel of fear, the fight dissipates and de-escalates, and the tension dies away.
Is it perhaps the reason you’re fighting that you’re both still in Camp Fear? Is it time to call a truce and cut your losses? Is it now time to try and forgive and forget? Is it timely to initiate something different?
The reward is a handsome one, even if we submit completely. We reap peace. Now, why would we delay and continue exposing our hearts and minds to the torment of fear? The emotion of love is so much more attractive, appealing and personally soothing, especially to others we touch.