We Hate What We Fear

Yoda Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering Yoda

As the wonderful Star Wars character Yoda says, fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate.

If we find ourselves hating, we can ask ourselves, “What is it that I am angry about?”

Then, we can take it a crucial step further: “What am I afraid of?”

How Can Others Help with Our Anger?

Everyday anger and hate are usually triggered by people who annoy us, whom we have decided we do not like, for whatever reason.  These people can be extremely useful to us psychologically.  They show us what we fear in ourselves.  Even deeper, they can show us what we deny ourselves, what we secretly desire most, but avoid out of fear, even terror.

Do I dislike loud people?  I might want to consider whether I allow myself to be loud, or if I fear punishment for letting myself be heard.

Do I hate gays and lesbians?  I might want to consider whether I have some desire for same-sex sexual contact, which I have been taught is bad and wrong, and should be violently suppressed.

Do I hate a certain race or ethnicity?  Am I angry with “Them” for some reason?  I might want to consider what it is that frightens me about “Them.”  Do they have freedoms that I do not, psychologically speaking?  Are they unafraid of what frightens me?  Do they represent what I want, deny myself, and so become afraid of.

Any way you look at it, the primary victim of anger, hate, fear and denied longings is none other than the person who is angry and hateful.

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Joseph Rhinewine, PhD. People collaborate with me to live life fully: with principle, passion and vigor. My expertise is providing and teaching Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an evidence-based, experiential and relational behavior therapy. I also apply Acceptance and Commitment processes to coaching those who wish to take their lives to a new level.

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  • Robin – thanks for your comments. I think you have identified a fundamental problem: Indeed, what does joy and creativity have to do with all the suffering, both actual and feared, that exists? My first thought is, “well, nothing.” Could we have BOTH the terror and sadness and loss and fear AND also notice also that there can be joy, creativity, togetherness, love? I don’t think there’s a logical answer to that question. I invite you to notice whether it could be worth trying to notice this possibility. I cannot coerce you or anybody’s mind to “believe in” a better life. I don’t think it works that way. If we want, we can try to practice mindfulness and see for ourselves if there can be more to life than just pain and fear. But it’s also an option not to do so. As I’ve repeated often in my life, when I hear the voices of others (usually in my mind) saying “you HAVE to” do something, I don’t HAVE to do anything except breathe and die (and probably suffer in there as well). The rest is choice.

    • Robin

      What does joy feel like?
      How do you learn to love?

      • Hm, I apologize for having missed this post 3 months ago. What does joy feel like? How do you learn to love? I don’t know. But what I find most helpful is to notice what hurts the most, because that’s what I care about the most. Wherever I have the most pain, therein lies what I want the most, what matters to me the most. I cannot determine my emotions, nor can I determine my fate. I can only determine whether I am willing, and to what extent I am willing, to enter the most painful parts of my experience, in order to find the treasures that lie therein. Could that be joyful? Maybe. Usually, torturous, then some joy later. But that’s not my concern. I’m not after joy or love. I’m after what matters most to me. For me that’s my kids, my wife, my family, my business and my music — in approximately that order. For them, I will walk through fire. That’s all that I can say with certainty, with a shred of intellectual honesty.