Anger’s root is fear. Don’t believe me? Check for yourself. In every situation of anger, there is a fear that caused it. Let’s explore a few examples…
Flicked off a driver that cut in front of you? You were scared that you were about to get in an accident. You were scared that accident would cost your life, health, or money. You may have also been scared about the disrespect of the driver, or the lack of consciousness of the driver, and what that disrespect or lack of consciousness says about your fellow humans.
Angry about something your spouse or romantic partner did to betray you? You were scared about not being able to trust them, that your relationship could go south, and what that could mean for your future?
Angry about your child breaking your TV screen after you told them not to swing the broom around the living room? You were scared about the financial burden of the breakage and that your child will cause more problems by not listening to you the first time.
Fear disguises as anger because it lets you put up a facade of strength, outwardly or inwardly, when you feel vulnerable. If you transcend your fear, you transcend your anger.
So, how do you transcend your fear? How do you transcend one of the most natural survival instincts of our species?
First, see that there is a difference between instinctive survival fear and mind-based survival fear.
If a pit bull is about to attack you, your survival fear activates your adrenalin so that you can fight or run. Perfectly natural and beneficial instinctive fear that you don’t need to get rid of because it helps your chances of survival in the moment.
Most driving lane cut-offs are not going to kill you. If your child breaks your TV screen, no one is going to die. If your spouse betrays you, you’re not going to die.
There is no reason for an adrenalin rush expressed through anger, but your mind thinks that there is. This is mind-based survival fear. There is something at the root of your thinking that makes you think these actions can lead to suffering and death, when they are actually so far removed from this that it makes no sense to think that way.
Once you see that most of your anger comes from mind-based fear, or thoughts, then you must see the falseness in these thoughts. Just noticing this will loosen the grip of fear for many of your issues.
After you see the falseness, there will still be fearful occasions that arise because of thoughts. This is why you need to build your conscious awareness. If you can be familiar with your triggers and notice when a fearful thought arises, you will eventually be able to let it go in real-time. When you diffuse the fear, the anger never gets a chance to arise.
How do you become more aware? Some combination of awareness meditation and stream-of-consciousness writing or journaling about your thoughts related to various triggers. We’ll be writing more about that here on 4EXISTENCE.
Over time, you will notice a gap growing between a given external stimulus that would normally elicit anger and your reaction to that stimulus. This will help you diffuse any situation with internal calm and result in a better external outcome for all involved.