We all get angry, though most of us instinctively deny the fact, for it feels shameful to lack that sort of control. Some people’s anger is so well cloaked it lays dormant until just the right trigger exposes it, as they fly in a moment to incalculable fury.
Others’ anger is cloaked in a smirk, a berating gesture, a smug silence, a cleverly-worded email; a more even paced frequency, but nonetheless damaging, discharge of their frustrated emotions.
The Way Anger Works
Behind the anger is fear; for whatever reason.
Fear-enshrined anger, we should also know, is a substitute emotion. It presents when we’ve passed over the base emotion disclosing our inner, even childlike, fears. (We have, until the day we die, these core emotions of a child; these two: our woundedness and our propensity for fun.)
Anger attempts to protect our fear—an ‘assertive’ venture (a façade or ‘a front’) for the adult’s control and credibility—but the response is ironically awkward, unguarded, immature and rebounding.
Anger such as this is self-defeating; it denies the truth of what’s really going on.
Anger, then, is secondary to our inner fear; a very certain sign of what we’ve just missed. It’s better by far to note the signs of these boiling emotions—registering interest in those intrinsic emotions before the vitriol spills over the edge in the effect of our noxious words and belligerent actions.
Anger, here, is predictable. We can cater for it before it’s too late.
This is where knowing ourselves—and particularly the length of our fuses and what presses our buttons—helps.
But not just that; we must know our triggers-to-anger and we should also develop re-channelling strategies so we don’t miss the vital clues to our inner child emotions.
It’s the adult within that placates the child deeper inside us, not denying the child, but validating him or her, for emotions always present for legitimate reasons. Practically speaking, we don’t judge ourselves for feeling angry, because it’s a sign we’re inwardly fearful. Instead of judging, we explore our feelings in order to learn.
Knowing ourselves—our child fears; our weaknesses—is the opportunity to accept ourselves.
Revisiting Our Propensities and Bouts of Anger
If we venture back honestly over our last week or month, we’ll have no problem identifying a situation where we either felt tempted to get angry, or we let fly.
Learning about what led to those emotions makes for intriguing intelligence. We can use such information to plan to prevent, or circumvent, the next time.
Noted with special interest is what fear drove the anger. This is an intriguing study. If we’re cut off to our fear we’ll think, “What fear?!”
But there’s fear there, alright!
If we became angry with an inconsiderate spouse, chances are we’d be fearful of becoming (or being) the doormat—and losing too much control to a person not to be trusted—if we just accepted what they did. We’re fearful for setting a bad precedent.
If it was children not doing their homework, the fear might be them failing academically and being disciplined or disadvantaged for it. Our anger is projected onto them because, ironically, we’re trying to protect them.
Predicting anger is planning for it; denying it doesn’t help anyone.
Our main objective should always be to prolong our deliberation, so our mature mind has time to rescue us from regretful action. If we’re to get angry, let it be a reasoned choice... in other words, for healthier indignation.
Everyone gets angry. Fear underpins much of our anger; the violent variety. If we’re open to our fear, we’re open to learning how to be patient in angering moments. Tolerant patience is learned, but we can’t learn unless we know about and accept our fears that underpin our anger.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.