Today is September 11th. For many Americans, it is both a day of sadness and one that breeds fear. It is also a day of remembrance; one in which we reflect on humanity and sacrifice. I would like to honor those who gave their lives to protect others, whether they were on a plane or serving their country on the ground. Our lives are valued by the amount of courage we bring to it, which is exactly what those brave people did on that fateful day. Join me in honoring their lives by pausing for a moment and giving thanks to those courageous heroes.
As I mentioned above, 9/11 is a memory that can trigger feelings of fear. Experiencing public life now comes with a price: a sense of unease that comes with the uncertainty of safety. As more and more news events unfold and we are beholden to terrors both at home and overseas, this fear increases. Eventually, this fear can turn into anger and contempt. But let us first explore the fear that attempts to hold us back.
Fear is a complex emotion; it can either make us flee to escape the threat, or it can cause us to stand up and fight. When we run from it, it can take the form of withdrawing, shutting down, and hiding emotionally or physically. Ultimately, it can be paralyzing. When this happens, and we feel stuck in the paralyses of fear, it can spur helplessness. A piece of us can feel like it is dying as the walls close in, until finally life does feel like it has ended; that there is no hope. For others, however, that fear gets turned into anger.
Anger is the natural result of standing up and fighting back against fear. As hard as we may try to be strong and unafraid, that emotional instability can eventually cause us to lash out in retaliation. We feel cornered by a self-perceived weakness, and so we feel entitled to be angry to compensate for that fear.
It is normal to feel angry… occasionally. Sometimes it can even be a positive emotional release. When anger is fueled by fear and hatred, however, then it becomes an unhealthy reaction. Being governed by our fear, our emotions become less rational; we try to control the situation by force through this anger that emboldens us to be aggressive, overbearing, loud. In fact, anger is a common reaction when we feel as if our voices aren’t being heard. To create impact, we create commotion — and this can be destructive. It is much more effective to create positive change through heart strength. Standing up for righteousness through love and compassion, for example, is a form of healthy anger that can move mountains with its impact.
It is important to keep your fear and anger in check. After all, anger directly affects our liver. You might have noticed that some have a tendency to get angry and start fights after drinking too much alcohol. This is because alcohol influences our liver and its capacity, which contains the emotion of anger. Fear, on the other hand, affects our kidneys. It is recommended to drink a lot of water and practice bladder relaxation if you feel crippled with fear. For the benefit of your health, it is best to assess your emotions so you can make any necessary changes.
So, how does one assess those emotions? I encourage you to journal about your feelings. Explore why you are angry. Write down your findings with specific examples whenever possible. Include what triggered the anger and why you felt the need to be angry in that situation. Conclude with how — if anything — that anger served you in the moment. Be curious about your anger by self-reflecting. By doing so, you will be able to self-correct.