Fear the Real Cause of Anger

Anger and Aggression

by Wesley Doherty

Even though you can identify it easily in today’s world, anger may not be what you think it is. All you have to do is spend a minute with the headlines and you come in contact with many forms of anger.

For many of us, it is felt much closer than the anger the headlines report: We feel anger towards others and the anger of others directed at us.

If the truth were told, most of us carry some degree of anger within us. We experience anger anywhere from mild irritation all the way up to seething rage, and we can feel it once a year, once a month, once a week, once a day, once a minute, or even all the time.

But even if you only experience mild irritation once a year, you still harbor anger. Carrying anger hurts yourself much more than it hurts the person you have directed your anger at, so it is in your best interests to be free of anger completely.

For example: You are happily driving to work one morning, cruising down the highway in the right lane. As you come up to an exit, a motorist in the lane to your left blows by you and and then immediately and dangerously cuts you off in order to make the exit ramp.

You bang on the steering wheel, gesture wildly, and yell at him for being so rude and careless. You think about it all the way to work, where you vigorously tell the story to your coworkers.

You think about it often during the day. You drive home with your eye out for the offending driver so you can give him a piece of your mind or maybe even dole out a little payback.

You also drive a little more defensively with an eye out to protect yourself from another driver who might do the same thing. Once home, you retell the story to your family.

What has happened here is that you have kept your body on high alert all day. You have carried that anger with you all day -- starting with when you got cutoff and then every time you remembered the event or retold the story -- and your body responded to every reenactment in your mind or words with a rush of adrenaline, an increase in stress levels, a contraction of your muscles, and a halt to your digestive and sexual functioning, to name just a few of the body's automatic responses to a threat.

The driver who cut you off, on the other hand, has felt none of these symptoms. He forgot that he cut you off before he reached the light at the end of the exit ramp and went merrily about his day, never thinking about you again. You were the only one to feel the anger directed at him and you were the only one to pay the price for that anger.

Anger takes many forms but they fall into two main categories: Anger expressed inward is felt as depression and anger expressed outward is attack. Whichever category it falls under and no matter how we express it, your anger hurts you more than it hurts the person it is directed at so it is in your best interests to be completely free of anger.

Here's how most of us believe we get angry: Something external happens that wrongs us (a mate says the wrong thing, a child misbehaves, a driver cuts you off, a person or group does something that is antithetical to a philosophy or way of life you value, etc.) and we correctly and justifiably respond with anger.

As long as you agree that this is the way anger arises in you, you will be a slave to anger and all of its negative outcomes (alienation, excess weight, stress, illness, etc.).

As this is a world of cause and effect with our thoughts being the cause, to experience anger physically we first had to hold an angry belief. If you want to be free of anger and its natural outcomes forever, you must first change your beliefs about where anger originates.

As I'm writing this, I have been laying in a lounge chair in the sun. As I write, occasionally a hornet will land on me and walk around siphoning off something they find tasty in my sweat. Once they've had their fill they harmlessly fly away.

These are the same hornets that stung me multiple times when I drove over their nest with my lawnmower just the week before.

People are the same: we're just going about our day when someone does something that ticks us off and we feel attacked by it, so we respond to the attack with righteous anger, knowing full well we were in no way responsible for the attack.

To that I say: "No matter how hard you squeeze a grapefruit, you can't get apple juice." Squeeze a grapefruit with varying degrees of pressure and from a variety of angles and you can only get out what is already in there: grapefruit juice. People are the same way: No matter how much pressure we are under, only what is already in us can come out of us.

When I was a kid I bit my nails, sometimes to the point of injuring my finger so it would get cut and filled with pus. The slightest pressure on that finger would cause me great pain while ten times the pressure on the finger right next to it could hardly be felt.

Emotionally, we are the same way: We can withstand great amounts of pressure where we are healed while small amounts of pressure where we are yet to be healed causes us to writhe in pain and react strongly.

So if you feel angry when your mate misspeaks, your child misbehaves, another driver cuts you off, etc., it is only because they are putting pressure on a spot where anger and hurt already reside.

There are only two kinds of beliefs: a love-based belief and a fear-based belief. Anger is of fear, so when you are angry, you are actually afraid. As a love-based belief always comes down to "I am enough" and a fear-based belief always comes down to "I am not enough," the original belief that makes you angry is a belief you hold about yourself that you are somehow inadequate, that you are somehow not enough.

I can remember one time hopping around cursing with my finger in my mouth because I hit my finger with a hammer. When the woman I was dating at the time reacted to my pain by questioning my masculinity instead of giving me some sympathy, I reacted angrily by questioning her ability to be compassionate.

In retrospect, I got angry with her because at some level I agreed with her--somewhere in my belief system I believed that real men are supposed to be tough and feel no pain.

Now that I have changed my belief about what a man is, I don’t get angry when somebody teases me like that. They can press as hard as they like and I don't react angrily because that sore spot has been healed.

When we remember that our thoughts create our reality, we can see that we don't get angry as a response to someone attacking us. We get angry because we hold a mistaken belief about ourselves as true and it manifests itself in such a way that we come face-to-face with a pain we have been trying to disown.

When we strike out with anger at the reminder of our mistaken belief (whoever or whatever that may be), we reinforce our belief in our own victimization and continue the cycle of miserable enslavement to a world that waits to attack.

When we instead recognize that our own mistaken beliefs have created this event, we empower ourselves to choose new beliefs and set ourselves, and those around us, completely free.

One Way To Become Free of Anger - An Exercise

As they appear, write down the things that make you angry. What was done? Did someone say or do something that hurt your feelings? How was it said or done? Who said or did it? What did you feel--hurt, disrespected, judged, manipulated, envious, imposed upon, anxious, depressed, worried, insecure, preoccupied, hated, hatred, sad, vengeful? The more specific you can be, the better.

After you have a few events written down, pick one that seems to incite a stronger response from you than the others or one response that reoccurs to seemingly different catalysts.

As thoughts precede outcomes, what thoughts could you be holding about yourself that would leave you feeling vulnerable to an attack such as the one you have picked from your list? For example, I got angry when people teased me about my masculinity.

The belief I held about myself that left me vulnerable to attacks against my manhood was, "Real men don't feel pain and I feel pain so I must not be much of a man." Write down all the "I am not enough" beliefs that come to mind that could have you feeling so vulnerable to this kind of attack.

After you have come up with all the possible fear-based beliefs, pick the one that resonates most strongly with you and rewrite it so it no longer promotes your wrongness. When I changed my fear-based belief to, "I am a man and I feel pain so real men do feel pain," I didn't feel like I had been attacked the next time such a joke was made so I harbored no anger and I was set free!

Make this new, less restrictive and more empowering belief your mantra and repeat it to yourself 20-100 times a day, especially when an event occurs that sparks an angry response from you. You will find that over time, by healing your fear-based beliefs about yourself (your emotional "sore fingers," if you will) you respond with anger to fewer and fewer things and with forgiveness and joy to more and more things. And the more forgiveness and joy you experience, the easier your life is!

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Author:For over 15 years, Wesley Doherty has been helping people redirect their creative powers to work for and not against them. Please visit Wesley's web site at http://www.AnEasierLife.com for additional articles, programs, and resources on how to have your easier life.