#36 Fear lies at the root of all anger

Knowing this may be able to help you deal better with your own anger, as well as other people’s.

We all get angry from time to time, of course we do.  And it’s fine to be angry: at people, at things in our personal lives, at things we see in the world around us; it’s how we act on this anger that’s important. Identifying the fear behind the anger can help, whether it’s your own, or somebody else’s.

Case Study.  This morning I was on the 8.16 commuter train, Norwood Junction > London Bridge.  Thirteen glorious minutes spent in somebody else’s armpit, breathing hot germy air: the highlight of my week.  Suddenly, the man next to me started coughing, in everybody’s faces, and didn’t cover his mouth.  Not very hygienic. I wrote it off as a surprise cough, you know the ones that creep up on you and burst out, just when you think you’ve got them under control.  Then he did it again, and again.  Everyone looked uneasy; it’s just not the done thing on the tremendously rammed 8.16 commuter train, Norwood Junction > London Bridge.  I felt my anger rise, until I got the uncontrollable urge to just poke him in the face, REALLY HARD!  How dare he cough his germs over us all?!

I stopped.  I checked myself.  I considered, what was my fear?  My fear was getting ill.  I’m a freelancer, If I get ill, and take time off work, I don’t get paid, as a result of this, things then get tight:  I have to eat carrot soup all the time, and give up my beloved wine, and swimming and focus solely on paying my rent.  This was what I was afraid of.  On realising this, I was able to approach him rationally.

“I’m really sorry, please could you not cough all over me.  I’m freelance and I’ll have right trouble paying my rent if I have to take next week of work sick.”

I was shaking.  I’m quite shy, and talking to strangers terrifies me, but I needed to do something.  He smiled (at my sort of joke,)  looked embarrassed, and apologised, and didn’t do it again.  I also got a couple of grateful smiles from people near by, and was glad I said something.  Far more productive than poking him in the face, no one wants a ruckus on the 8.16 commuter train, Norwood Junction > London Bridge.

It won’t always be easy, but by identifying your fears, you can better express your anger to others, and rationalise it.  By trying to understand other’s fears (ask them if it seems appropriate), you can perhaps begin to better understand where they’re coming from.  I hope this lesson helps you in someway Lottie, in the same way it’s helped me.

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