Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Anger comes from Fear, Always."

I wish I could say that I was the first person to uncover that profound little observation, but when I first saw it it was in something written by an eccentric SF genius named Spider Robinson.

It is a profound truth. Feelings of anger are a reaction triggered by feelings of fear.

Fear that “she doesn't like me anymore”; or “he won't want to see me again”;

Fear of losing your job, or if you've lost your job, fear that your peers, friends or family won't see you as worthy anymore. Fear that “I'll never work again.” Or just the fear that you won't be able to pay the bills next month.

And it is self-replicating: Your kid scares the crap out of you by running into the street without looking and you lash out at them in anger. You grab an arm and shout at them, trying to get the message through, and they get scared and angry right back at you.

Good news is, even if it isn't “fixable” it can be made better, just by seeing it when it hits you. When the anger hits, look for the fear that's causing it. Identifying the fear can lessen it. Even if the fear doesn't go away, the anger can.

Hey, unsolicited advice. It's not really a guy thing. I get it from my grandmother. I hope I don't get everything from her. These days she is as likely as not to answer her front door without any pants on. My mom says it is part of the onset of her Alzheimers. But, it might also be an indication that she is the genetic source of my sense of humor.

One other truth Spider taught me.

“Shared pain is diminished. Shared joy is multiplied.”

The second part of that is obvious, the first, not so much. Shared joy does multiply itself. Euphoria loves company. Oddly enough, despite the old saying, misery really doesn't. A miserable person can be made less miserable by sharing his or her burden. But the misery itself gets diminished by the sharing.

It can also help to have a “designated worrier” in your family. Brings me back to my grandmother. When I was little she told me that that was one of her jobs. “You got a problem?” she once said when I was about six, “You come tell Mamma Poe. Then you go play. I'll worry it out for both of us.” Seemed to work every time.

I miss you Mamma Poe...


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