Thursday, March 4th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


There are some of us who fear our own anger
as well as other people's anger.

There is an old joke about a politician who was an expert at telling people what he thought they wanted to hear.

If he thought the question from the audience could cost him a vote, he would not give a straight answer and often would give an answer to a question that was not asked!

One day at a press conference he was asked, 'What is your stand about regulating alcohol?' Not knowing what the person asking the question thought about alcohol, he said, 'Sir, if you are talking about the alcohol that has destroyed lives and costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars a year, I am totally against it.' Then without pausing he said, 'But if when you are talking about alcohol, you are speaking about the alcohol that brings in a lot of state revenue, then I am completely and totally for it. And that is my position and I will not deviate from it.'

As we continue examining our mnemonic, F.E.A.R., our focus will be on the letter, 'A' which stands for our fear of anger. Many of us fear anger because we confuse the emotion of anger with the behavior of aggression, which is behavior that hurts others and things.

Another reason many of us fear anger is because of our belief that anger automatically turns into aggression. Beneath our fear is the belief that if we make someone angry, they will not like us and will abandon us.

There are some of us who fear our own anger as well as other people's anger. This is certainly true for those of us who are 'people pleasers' who desperately need another person' vote of approval. Since our self-worth comes from how other people relate to us, we are careful never to make them angry.

We mold and shape ourselves so that we do not lose another's vote by 'rocking the boat.' It can be said we are very controlling people because we keep people from knowing who we really are. We are careful to present our 'best side.' We believe that if people really got to know us and our 'ugly' side, they would not like us and would abandon us.

It is difficult being in relationship with us as people pleasers. Often we are known as the 'nice guy.' While this sounds like a good thing, our partner may be lonely because she doesn't know who we are. It is difficult to 'nail us down.' For instance, when it comes to anger, we deny our emotion by saying 'No. I'm not angry,' or we use words that minimize such as 'I'm a little upset or frustrated.'

When it comes to disciplining our children, we feel more comfortable being their 'friend' instead of their parent. Our need for approval gets in the way and can be very frustrating for our partner who always has to be the 'bad guy.'

'Who do I have to be to get and keep your vote?'

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700