Anger and Hate: Emotions that Defeat Themselves

· October 6, 2016

A boy was always in a bad mood, filled with hate, and fighting with his classmates. One day, his father told him to hammer a nail into the door of his bedroom each time that he argued with one of his classmates. The boy hammered many nails into the door, but because it took him such a great effort, he stopped arguing with his classmates.

The father told him to remove a nail for each day that he did not get angry and the boy did it, but his father showed him the marks that the nails had left in the door and told him: never forget, anger and hate leave marks on our heart.

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

-Mark Twain-

Anger and hate as a problem

A person can feel anger and hate as a reaction to irritation or the rage caused by the indignation of feeling his rights violated. We have all felt indignant at some point because something unfair has happened to us (a politician has acted fraudulently, a woman was mistreated, etc.). That indignation in the face of an injustice is worthy of respect.

But the problem comes up when anger and hate are used as a cover for our fear, for something that we have done wrong. In those situations, when the indignation is no longer a reaction to an injustice, it turns into a simple manifestation of our ego. This reflects our inability to properly control and manage our emotions.

Woman and Broken Glass

Anger and its causes

According to Raymon Novaco, expert in the psychology of anger, anger is an emotion that has an important communicational function because it allows us to express our negative emotions. But it is often confused with aggression, which is a behavior. There is a very fine line between these two things.

Novaco claims that there are four essential categories of provocation that can be the cause of our indignation:

  • The frustration or inability to satisfy a need or desire can bring about feelings of anger in us. An example is the anger we feel when we receive a bad grade on a test or a person stands us up on a date.
  • Irritating events like a sound from the apartment above you that does not let you sleep, a key that we have lost and cannot find: these can lead to anger.
  • Verbal and nonverbal provocation. If we take this as something personal, it can make us angry. A sarcastic comment from a friend. A car that passes us at a high speed and honks their horn.
  • Injustice towards us, or an unfair event like the violent death of someone we know can also be causes of our anger.

Symptoms and consequences of anger and hate

Behind the anger and hate, we can find low self-esteem, insecurity, emotional immaturity, egocentrism, impatience, low tolerance, or frustration. On the other side of disproportionate, uncontrolled anger, we can always find a child (a rash, immature child), frustrated and fearful. In order to free himself from his own fear, encourage himself, and scare his enemies, this child uses indignation, fury, and destructive violence.

Whether it’s a 16-year-old adolescent or a 50- to 70-year-old adult, their fears lead them to behave like a 3-year-old child, impulsive and frightened, who gets angry because his toy was taken away. Anger is the shield that a person uses to protect himself in the face of the occasional inability to fulfill his desires.

“Anger is like drinking poison, expecting the other person to die.”

-William Shakespeare-

The anger and hate that a person develops can have significant consequences. Examples include superficial relationships with other people or those based on domination, the need for obedience, guilt, and remorse, loneliness, lack of empathy towards others, and the belief that they are always right.

Couple Not Looking at Each Other

How to act towards an angry person

When we are the object of another person’s anger and hate, the best thing to do is distance ourselves. Sometimes this is not possible and so we can take some simple measures to avoid letting that person’s anger and hate cause us harm.

  • Do not let them attack you whenever they want.
  • Do not lose time contradicting them.
  • Remember that you are the strong one and the person yelling is the weak one.
  • If the situation is getting out of hand, let go of it and come back to reflect on it together when they have calmed down.

“Anyone can become angry. That is easy. But to be angry with the right person to the right degree at the right time for the right purpose and in the right way, that is not easy.”

-Aristotle-