Reading time: 4 Minutes
All of us have experienced letting emotions take us over for example
anger, fear etc. resulting in negative consequences.
Understanding the nature of emotions and paying attention when they arise can help
If you had to describe Anger and pick from the following opposites, which ones would you pick?
Hot/Cold, Fast/Slow, Up/Down, Hard/Soft, In/Out
Most probably you may say hot, fast, up, hard, out.
In fact the properties of anger are similar to fire, in fact you could even say “Anger is fire”.
When someone is angry they literally get warmer, people may say phrases like “cool down”,
“calm down” and if the angry person is attentive they may feel the surge of anger rise up in them
towards their throat, just like a fire rises. It’s a hard, upwards, often fast movement and the
tendency is to lash out with angry words, or fighting etc.
Just like fire looks for things to cling on to in order to burn further, for example paper, wood etc. ,
in the same way a person may bring up something as light as paper such as a facial expression
or more tangible wood like something that happened but many years ago etc. to fuel their anger
People tend to move away from angry people just as they move away from fire, to the point
where one may find their own family and friends wish to be away from them or spend less time
with them for fear of getting burnt. There are people who have killed another person within a few
moments of anger who are spending the rest of their lives in prison, they have been forcibly
removed from others, so the consequences of uncontrolled anger can be incredibly disastrous.
The properties of fear involve pulling away from/back from something or someone as opposed
to going towards someone as anger does and is more of an inwards/retreating movement. All
phobias are an aversion/fear of something e.g. arachnophobia – fear of spiders, agoraphobia –
fear of public spaces, acrophobia – fear of heights, claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces etc.
When people are afraid of something, the tendency is to move away from it.
However constantly doing this can actually perpetuate and solidify the fear so that it becomes
part of the person’s nature.
The best way to combat it is actually to go towards what is feared.
Of course this does not refer to going towards what is harmful, but refers to what is an irrational
fear. For example if someone is scared of public places, they could start with watching people
outside, then start sitting in the back garden, then start walking to the end of their street and
back and in this way gradually build up till they have shaken off the fear.
In fact there is a book titled “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers which I haven’t
read but the title probably sums it up quite well.
Not facing fear can put a major dampener on life. I used to have a neighbor who didn’t go out of
her house for 23 years, her husband used to go out to work, do the shopping etc. She
eventually died in the same house but both her and many others missed out on what potential
she could have realised and offered to the world.
Interestingly this knowledge can be used in other areas too, for example if one is feeling a bit
lethargic (negative) then they need to start doing some action (positive). As they do so, the
lethargy is quickly shaken off and they gather a positive momentum. Just like if one wakes up
feeling tired (negative) and keeps thinking about how tired they are etc. (further negative) it
makes it harder to get out of bed. Whereas if they get up quickly and start getting ready
(positive), do some light exercise (even further positive) then they save time and have a more
Of course there are many positive emotions which should be cultivated, but it is more difficult for
them to flourish in the presence of negativity such as anger, fear etc.
Joy, passion to do something worthwhile are also upwards and outwards movements like anger
but positive, i.e. instead of swearing and hitting someone you would want to say something nice
and give them a hug! And of course positive motivation which springs from these is the best fuel
Whenever you feel annoyed or angry, give attention to the sensation you feel in your upper
chest/throat and how it’s tempting to let it out and say something negative. Take control and
wait for it to settle, don’t be taken over by it. If you feel fear, take steps to overcome it as
described. Eliminate the negative emotions and cultivate the positive for a more productive and
By Br Saqib Hussain