Sunday, August 9, 2009

Anger - The Mask Of Inner Fear

“Fear is a dark room where negatives develop.” ~ Author unknown

Being afraid has often been considered a weakness, so many have come to hide fear and dress it as anger and self-righteousness, since aggression is labeled as an attribute of the strong.

A few days ago I was talking to a friend whose husband faces a long battle with cancer. Although she has asserted being preoccupied with his state of health on a few occasions, her mind is usually consumed by questions of a different nature, and spends her days wondering if he is faithful to her. When she is not directly entertaining thoughts of indiscretions, she is simply angry at everybody – her children, store attendants, perfect strangers.

Since she couldn’t come up with any “evidence” that would support her doubts, I asked her why she felt so sure that her husband was doing something wrong – from all I’ve ever seen and heard he is attentive and honest.

She tried to come up with an answer, but all her mind was able to concoct was easily explainable. She had no case, yet her anger was growing by the minute; just talking about it was causing her deep distress.

It occurred to me that maybe there was more to her seething anger than what she allowed to transpire, so we dug in a little further.

After a long conversation, she finally admitted that her anger is likely produced by her fear of losing her husband and by her inability to deal with losing control of the situation.

Since her mind does not allow her – for reasons to her unknown – to face her fear of death, internal filters conveniently changed the reason of future loss to something more controllable – infidelity.

None of these defense mechanisms were obvious to her, and she truly believed what her mind led her to think, even if she could not pinpoint the origin of her devastating anger. A possibility was that if she could confirm to herself that her husband was not true to her, then she would not be as impacted by the loss of him. Anger was the fuel to stay strong and anchored, and a shield to prevent the crumbling of her inner world.

Anger is most often a symptom of something else at play. Maybe we are angry - or we are dealing with people who seem angry without a good reason – but we are unable to identify the cause. We assume that we are angry or distraught because of the reasons supplied by the conscious mind, but if one digs deeper, it is easy to find that fear is often the underlying, motivating factor.

Fear is the mother of anger. By intimidating others, and making them fearful, we feel as if we can stay in charge and control situations that are slipping through our fingers and threaten us with loss.

Facing our fears is the first step to understanding the anger that blinds our judgment and weighs down our soul.

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