Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Goat Snatchers


In this article we will continue
with our examination of the letter 'A'
that represents our fear of anger.

We are continuing with our series on the mnemonic: F.E.A.R. that stands for the things we fear. In this article we will continue with our examination of the letter 'A' that represents our fear of anger.

Have you ever wondered where the expression, 'What gets your goat?' came from? The answer comes from the horse racing community.

The racehorse trainers discovered that they could calm most thoroughbreds, who are high strung and skittish, by putting a goat in the stall with them. The company of the goat would have a calming effect on the horse.

If an opponent wanted to sabotage the race, he would steal the horse's goat. When the goat was taken, the horse would go crazy. This seems to be the origin of the question, 'What gets your goat?'

What gets our goat so that we lose our temper? What do other people do that angers us? While the answer may be different for each of us, let me present a few goat snatchers.

One goat snatcher may be a person who is not dependable. We have learned that we had better not rely on them because they will not keep their promises. When we do count on them we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Another goat snatcher for some of us could be a person who is sarcastic, negative, critical, and faultfinding. We cannot trust them because these goat snatchers will put us down and ridicule what we say and do. We have learned that we have to weigh our words and be guarded around them.

Some goat snatchers could be called 'pot stirrers' because they seem to enjoy sharing gossip that will upset us. We have all known people who we have to be careful what we share with them because we do not know how they will use the information with other people.

Consequently, we dare not share our inner feelings or secrets. The 'payoff' for them is not only seeing people get upset but the fact they have privileged 'inside' knowledge.

A person who sees himself as a victim may be our goat snatcher. They are the people we might have offended in some way. Instead of confronting us, they go behind our backs talking about how badly we have wounded them.

It is as though they carry with them an 'imaginary' ledger book where they record all the bad things we have done to them. Not only do they read 'our crimes' to others but invite them to add to the 'ain't it awful' page. Sometimes it appears that they have a need for us to be 'the bad guy' and they are trying to turn everyone against us.

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