I had a dream last night that someone was hurting one of my kids.
Of course I got very angry in the dream and I started to fight back as any parent would. What I found interesting when I woke up was that I was still angry and that I felt entitled to feel my anger, or more accurately I felt that it was okay to feel my anger.
I realize that I’ve been living a lot of my life looking for permission to use my anger because anger is considered bad, or at least our society is not very comfortable with it and judges those who are angry harshly.
Then I thought some more and it wasn’t just that anger is bad, it was MY anger that was bad that’s very different. It means that I am looking to other people for permission or their approval to be able to express that vital part of me.
AFRAID OF ANGER
Well the title of the blog is fear of anger and this is just one of the reasons why. I’m afraid to express my anger and I’m worried that other people will be upset, and even more angry than I am leading to some disastrous consequence.
I just want to say before I continue that anger isn’t just harsh confrontation, yelling or any of the other more aggressive ways of expressing it. Anger can also be expressed with you looking like you are in control, calm and at peace and that’s how I believe the majority of our time is spent in anger.
Having an angry father conditioned me to believe that anger is dangerous. That at any time anger can erupt like a volcano and lead to hostility. That when people are hostile they are out of control and at that point anything can happen, and of course my mind takes me to the worst possible outcome.
So anger is dangerous but it’s worse than that because it’s also volatile and unpredictable. It’s like tiptoeing around a minefield. Anxiety levels are through the roof and you’re doing your best to avoid an explosion.
Going back to the dream in the first paragraph I realize that while I’m afraid of other people’s anger, I know that if somebody hurts me or wrongs me that it’s okay for me to then feel angry because chances are the person who did wrong will yield or back down after I call them out with my own anger. Does that make sense?
It’s like they know they don’t have any legs to stand on and so will lose in the court of public opinion, which means they won’t have any support from the outside world. As a matter of fact it would likely be me who gets the support.
The problem with even that scenario, that one situation where I have permission to express anger, is that I or someone I love could get very hurt first. Meaning I would have to wait until someone does damage to me before I’m justified (in their eyes) in expressing my anger to defend myself.
So if I play by the world’s or other people’s rules, I lose every time. And I play by other people’s rules because I’m afraid of anger. So the solution for me is to not worry about what other people think and go out into the world, assert myself and do what I need to do, but of course that’s much easier said than done because of my fear of anger and confrontation.
KEEPING ME DOWN
Other people don’t like it when you have your anger fully integrated into you. Your anger is like an emotional weapon that you use for two reasons; one is to stand up for yourself against those who will try to take advantage of you or put you down, and two is to give you the drive to go out into the world and get what you want which makes your life better and the life of those around you better as well.
In other words it makes you tough and other people don’t like that because it means that you won’t be pushed around or manipulated into doing or saying what they want. So of course they won’t like you but even if you did give up your identity and do what they wanted they still wouldn’t like you. They would approve of you to continue benefiting from your codependence but they wouldn’t like you. Better to be alone and not liked than serving someone and still not being liked.
This of course makes me angry at the world for being that way. Why is it if I want to be myself that you won’t like me? Why is it that I have to be a slave so that you will?
The real question I should ask is, why do I care what other people think? Why am I looking up to them for permission to be myself, and to integrate my anger so that I can get the things I want in life and stop people from bullying me?
And you already know the answer. I look for their approval because if I don’t get it then I get their anger that’s something that I’m afraid of.
The answer of course is to integrate my own anger. That means to welcome it back into my psyche after having shut it off since forever. Having my own weapon sheathed around my waist ( metaphorically) will make me less afraid of other people who have theirs.
This anger talk sounds very aggressive I know but it isn’t. Just think of any of the top action movie stars and you can see that when they are not fighting or confronting anyone, that their anger is still there ready to be used even though they are being good neighbors, loving fathers and helping out the community making everyone’s life better. The only difference is that you know not to mess with them and that’s a good thing..
More to come on how I’m doing with this process, trying to integrate the anger as antidote to the fear.
Leave a comment if any of this resonated with you. I love to hear your thoughts.
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