WHAT IF anger is just fear under a lot of pressure. So, anytime you feel angry, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine that your high school daughter is late coming home from a date. When she finally arrives 25 minutes after her curfew, you unleash on her. You’re angry! How could she be so inconsiderate. Didn’t she know how worried you were?
Now, hitting the pause button, let’s reflect on what was really happening.
Your daughter is out.
You feel angry.
Instead of going down that trail, consider what you might be afraid of.
You’re afraid that something has happened to her.
You’re afraid that she’s been in an accident, or been injured.
You’re afraid that she was drinking and did something stupid.
And on, and on.
As you can see fear can run the show, if we allow it.
I understand why you could feel afraid, but are your fears logical? (PS: emotions are never logical)
Is your daughter normally responsible?
Does she hang out with people whom you trust?
Once you run down this list, your fears might ease, as you know you can trust her.
If you get your fears under control, your reaction when she does get home might be a bit more controlled.
Instead of assuming the worst, you might be concerned, but you’re able to manage the worry.
Instead of yelling, you might hug her, relieved that she’s home and ok. From this place of relief, you might have a positive conversation, reminding her why you were worried, and being able to truly hear her explanation. This conversation can be an important building block for enhancing trust in your relationship, which is vital, especially with teenagers.
New example, you get furious with one of your team members who missed a deadline for an important report.
Instead of focusing on your feelings of anger, pause to reflect on the question, “What am I afraid of”?
You might be afraid that the tardiness will reflect poorly on you as the team leader.
You might be afraid that the hard work on the report will be discounted because it’s late.
You might be afraid to trust the person again as they let you down this time.
By now you should see how to dig deeply underneath the anger to find the truth about what’s really going on. The cause.
You can only solve a problem when you know the cause. If you simply treat symptoms, you’ll have only a short-term fix, which is inefficient at best.
When we can understand the fear hiding underneath the anger, we can respond with less force. Often if we respond with anger, we ‘over-shoot’ or exaggerate the feeling because it has built up so much energy. It’s like a tea kettle that comes to a boil, then must let off steam by whistling.
Next time you feel anger rising, you’ll know to hit pause and explore what fear may be lurking about. This approach takes you closer to peace of mind, which is where most of us want to live.