Jove taught me so many things over the years, and not always while we were in sessions with clients. One of the biggest “aha moments” I’ve ever had, about what our emotions mean, happened while we were on a trail ride with friends.
One miraculously warm, sunny day in February 2014, I was chatting happily with a good friend on her horse – as we often did. I started telling her a story about something I had seen a few days earlier, where one rider was talking to another about how she “hated” a particular horse, who was prone to bucking. I told my friend how taken aback I was by the anger in the woman’s voice.
My telling the story was suddenly interrupted when both of our horses slammed to a halt and froze—heads lifted high in the air and ears pricked forward. I could feel Jove’s heart beating against my legs, as his body responded to the perceived threat – whatever it happened to be.
When we finally convinced Jove and Mikey that there was nothing to fear and it was safe to continue forward, something fascinating happened. Jove took a few steps forward before pinning his ears back and kicking out at Mikey behind him. I’d never seen Jove do that before! Usually he preferred horses following close behind.
I realized in a flash of insight that Jove was demonstrating exactly what I had just been telling my friend about. Jove had been frightened by something, and then his fear moved right into anger when he kicked at Mikey. I had been talking about a woman who seemed to hate her horse, but she didn’t really. She was afraid, and in a self-protective pivot, her fear turned into anger.
As I was telling the story, I had in fact been feeling upset about hearing someone talk about how much they hate a horse… and for doing something that’s completely natural (bucking). By acting it out, it felt like Jove was teaching me a lesson. He heard me wondering why that woman would get so angry at her horse, and he answered me, by showing me—here, this is why.
People get angry when they’re afraid.
I hadn’t realized until Jove showed me, that she had actually been afraid. Underlying her comments, was fear—fear of falling off, of being injured, of someone else being injured, of being out of control… the list could go on forever.
Intense anger or hatred is nearly always due to fear of something; and horses have a way of bringing that out in people because it can be so dangerous to work around them.
When we are afraid, that fear often translates into anger.
Jove was simply demonstrating that exact tendency on our part – to shift from fear to anger when we’re spooked by something.
For some reason, anger feels like a more comfortable emotion to feel, so we often shift our fears/anxieties/nervousness into anger/hatred/frustration instead.
Why would we do this?
Anger is higher up on the emotional guidance scale, so it feels better in general as more energy is flowing than when you’re afraid. We’re also often taught that anger is more socially acceptable than fear.
However, to really shift how you’re feeling, you have to get to the source of the negative mental and emotional state you’re in. If you’re trying to figure out why you’re so angry, when you’re actually afraid, you won’t get very far.
Whether or not your fear is warranted, getting angry will just disguise the fear and perpetuate it, by preventing you from seeing and clearing out what’s really bothering you.
Take a moment to get in touch with something you’re feeling angry about, and ask yourself: Am I really angry, or am I actually afraid?
If you realize a fear-anger connection, share in the comments below what you’re actually afraid of and how you might deal with the situation differently now that you have greater awareness about how you’re actually feeling. What might shift in your life if you handle this one aspect in a new way?