Fear And Anger: Losing Control And Being Okay With It
ARE YOU A CONTROL-FREAK?
Control. It drives everything in our world, politics, economics, religion, and even relationships. The struggle between having control or not is a never ending tug of war. If a country has a stronger military or a better economy, then they have control over weaker countries. Political parties strive to have control over the government, and bosses have control over their employees. Even in relationships, power struggles are common because one or both members feel out of control. When someone feels out of control, it might make them afraid. Fear is a response to feeling out of control, helpless, or unprepared. Being unable to control your life, decisions, and future can be scary and overwhelming. Fear isn’t usually a good feeling; your hands might get shaky, your mind flashing scenarios, and you feel paralyzed.
This unwelcome feeling of fear might then turn into anger; directed towards yourself, your situation and the people involved, or simply your lack of control. Anger is often an attempt to regain control of your situation and change the bad feeling that fear causes. Most mental health struggles or disorders begin with anger or fear, and giving in to either can lead to regret.
WHAT IS RIGHTEOUS ANGER?
Anger is a complicated emotion. There are situations in which anger can be good; anger at injustices like human trafficking, abuse, or abortion. Let’s call this type of anger “righteous anger”, which is a term commonly used by Christians. Anger at another car who cuts you off in traffic is not righteous anger, but selfish anger. When another driver cuts you off in traffic, you have no control over their actions, which causes fear, which can turn into anger. Sometimes, your fear can turn into anger simply because you don’t like the feeling of fear and compensate by reacting in a way that puts the ball of “control” back in your court.
TO FIGHT OR TO FLIGHT
The fight-or-flight response is the most simplified explanation for how people handle conflict. Now that we’ve established anger and fear as the responses to conflict, this makes sense. The flight response to conflict comes from fear. Sometimes, fear is useful and does protect you in situations where you should run. On the other hand, anger is often the force behind the fight response to conflict. Again, there is a time and place to stand and fight. Just like fear can be useful, anger allows you to fight more effectively; channeling energy and motivating you.
Even though anger and fear have their purposes, almost every mental health struggle can be boiled down to one of the two. Anxiety is obviously an overabundance of paralytic fear, and anger-issues, well, come from being too angry. Self-esteem issues can be a combination of the two, fear of rejection and anger at yourself for not measuring up to yours or society’s standards. Depression often comes from fear; whatever you are afraid of can make you feel helpless and without hope. To sum it up, an excess of either anger or fear is bad for your mental health. A little fear is healthy, and keeps you from putting yourself in harmful situations. Unjust situations can often warrant righteous anger, but very quickly anger becomes selfish.
Let’s be honest, a lot of times being angry feels good. Fear, on the other hand, is a little less fun. Little moments of irrational fear from rollercoasters or horror movies can be exciting, but no one likes feeling truly afraid. Anger makes you feel like you’re in control, even if you aren’t. When you get angry, you feel stronger, braver, and more powerful.
While fear makes you feel like hiding, anger makes you feel like fighting. People who have anger issues enjoy the feeling of being in control and can quickly become addicted to it. People who seem to participate in every movement or support any cause often enjoy the feeling of “mutual anger” that it gives them. The anger from fighting for or against something makes them feel validated and empowered. People who struggle with anger can often direct it towards other people as emotional, verbal, or physical abuse. Like we established, sometimes fear is really the catalyst for that anger.
IF YOU’RE NOT IN CONTROL, WHO IS?
At the root of anger and fear is the desire for control. But guess what, you’re not in control. You control your own decisions, and that’s really it! You can’t control other people, what happens in the world, or even some elements of your future. If you struggle with control issues that manifest as fear or anger, you need to accept that you can’t control everything. This is sometimes an unnerving thought; that you aren’t in control of anything around you. But don’t worry; the world isn’t just spinning around with nothing but fate determining the outcome of your life. God is in control, and Colossians 1:17 says that “in Him all things hold together”. You can rest because God created this world-and your life-with a purpose. You have purpose and meaning beyond what this world says about you. Philippians 1:6 says that we can be confident that “he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” It’s okay to not be in control, because God is, and that’s when you can begin to overcome your fear and anger.