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Are you more fearful or more angry?

Fear and angry are almost the same

Yes, they seem vastly different, right? Yet, the root they have in common is that they're both in response to an apparent threat.

Flee or fight?

The difference only lies in whether there is an assessment (which is almost always automatic) that it's better to run away from, avoid, or pacify the threat or that it's better to confront and and possibly overpower the threat.

Paper-threat or valid-risk threat?

But then there's two types of fear and two types of anger.

  • Fear

    • paper-threat fear

    • valid-threat fear​

  • Anger

    • paper-threat anger​

    • valid-threat anger

The nature of fear or anger, whether it is a phantom threat or a legitimate one, doesn't alter the intensity of the emotion until you differentiate the extent to which the fear or anger is an illusion rather than a real threat. Moreover, a conscious realization of its illusory nature may not significantly lessen your sensation of fear, and the belief in an actual threat might still be hard to shake off.

But the advantage of knowing which type of fear or anger it is (and it could be some of both) is this:

  • If a significant portion or even all of your fear or anger stems from a legitimate threat, then you can understand that it's beneficial to harness the energy from these emotions, supplement it with a fitting threat evaluation, and employ the most likely effective response to confront that threat.

  • If a substantial part or the entirety of your fear or anger is due to an imagined or "paper" threat, then you understand that, proportionally, you need not split your attention to deal with an external threat. Your primary concern should be to address any distress that these emotions are causing. Resistance to either fear or anger only exacerbates the suffering.

  • If the fear or anger is composed of elements from both phantom and real threats, then it’s generally wise to first tackle the internal turmoil that the fear or anger is signaling. Once the internal issue is resolved, you can then focus on addressing the external threat, if it remains. By settling the internal conflict first, you empower yourself to be more effective and resourceful in handling any external challenges that persist.

Where's the threat? What's the danger? Where is there a need for defense?

During the evaluation of your fear or anger to ascertain whether it's an illusory or genuine threat, what often appears as a genuine threat is merely an "assault on your ego." Upon close examination, if you're willing to assertively say "no" and enforce boundaries for self-care when required, then the blame, disappointment, or withdrawal from others seldom poses any real risk to you.

Despite this, the majority of us typically and unconsciously hand over the control and accountability to others to dictate our self-perception and feelings about ourselves.

If you find yourself feeling defensive, wounded, disrespected, or generally disturbed by someone's words or actions, or lack thereof, it's a likely indicator that your ego perceives a threat, even though there may be minimal or no tangible danger present.

 

This presents a major opportunity for creating a new level of integrity using the FFI toolkit, NNI toolkit, and OOI toolkit.

What is your preferred response to a perceived threat?

Some individuals have a tendency to lean towards fear instead of anger. Numerous factors likely contribute to this preferential response. One possible factor could be the learned perception of anger as a negative emotion, leading us to avoid being labeled as an irate or unkind person. As a result, our fear might serve as a mask, concealing our own responses of anger from ourselves.

Some individuals incline towards anger rather than fear. A potential factor encouraging this bias could be the learned perspective that fearful individuals are perceived as weak, unable to assert themselves. We might fear that others will lose respect for us and exploit our vulnerabilities if we adopt a submissive or timid demeanor, similar to those who are often fearful. As a result, our display of anger might serve as a shield, obscuring our own fearful reactions from ourselves.

Regardless of your preference, whether it's fear or anger, it tends to reinforce your self-perception or identity, subsequently reducing your flexibility in responding to perceived threats.

Collapsing fear or anger with guilt or blame

This is most apparent when we consider anger and blame. It's uncommon for adults to experience anger without concurrently feeling blame, almost as though the two emotions are synonymous. One purpose of blame is to perpetuate anger. If we feel anger towards someone without blaming them (just observe a two-year-old child), the anger is vented and then dissipates. This isn't usually the case with adults. Blame can maintain anger at a constant, simmering level, potentially for years or even decades.

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