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Anger and Fear: How to Spot The Difference in Your Feelings

Anger or Fear?: How to Spot The Difference in Your Feelings

It is not always easy to identify what specific feelings you are experiencing. Often, you may feel a combination of multiple different emotions, like anger and fear. This can make it even more difficult to understand your emotions and cope with them. Becoming familiar with how to spot the differences in your feelings is especially helpful in strengthening your mental health and overall well-being.

Why Is Labeling Your Feelings Important?

It is a very beneficial skill to be able to identify your feelings. That is not always easy. For example, when you are experiencing a lot of emotions as a result of anxiety or panic, you can feel so overwhelmed that it’s hard to focus on labeling emotions.

Learning to label your feelings helps you in four ways:

#1. It helps you understand what you are feeling. This is fairly obvious, but it is important to know what you are feeling, and putting a label on them can help you solidify that.

#2. It helps you to identify underlying triggers. There have been many times when someone asks why you are upset and you genuinely do not know why. By labeling your emotions, you can work through them to find out what is triggering those emotions.

#3. It allows you to properly cope with them. Not knowing what you are feeling can make you feel like you lack control. Putting an identity to your emotions gives you the ability to overcome them.

#4. It betters your communication. In the event you feel the need to ask for help, either from a professional or a loved one, knowing what to tell them greatly increases their chances of understanding and being able to be sympathetic and support you.

What Is Anger?

To be able to identify whether you feel anger or fear, you must be able to define the two. Anger takes place when the adrenal glands release adrenaline into your body, preparing you for a fight. Your heart rate and blood pressure rise as your blood begins moving more toward your muscles. You may also begin to feel hot; the classic cartoon image of someone getting angry and their face filling up with a red hue isn’t too far off. Your body’s response to anger is to prepare you to physically fight something.

As a result of these chemicals, you may feel the emotion of anger. Anger is a negative emotional state that causes hostile thinking patterns and can lead to maladaptive behavior. Not having control of a situation or not knowing how you will react often creates anger. Anger may cause you to lash out verbally or even physically to regain control. You may snap at a friend or even want to hit them.

What Is Fear?

In contrast to anger, fear is a negative emotional state that is triggered by your perception of danger. Whether the danger is physical or mental, fear is uncomfortable and often frustrating. You may feel your breath and heart rate quicken. Your hands or whole body may start sweating or even shaking.

Fear may cause you to lash out verbally or even physically in an attempt to make yourself and your surroundings feel safer. You may yell at people to back away from you or even push someone away from you physically. In contrast, you may shut down altogether and freeze.

Why Do Anger and Fear Get Confused?

Anger and fear are often confused because they come with similar symptoms. While you may shake when you are scared or angry, the reasons for the shaking are different. When you are angry, you may shake out of frustration. On the other hand, when you are afraid, you shake because you feel you’re in danger. 

Lashing out verbally or physically in response to fear versus anger is different as well. In response to fear, you want to feel safe again, but with anger, you want to regain control or calm.

Similarly to this, when you feel anger or fear, your body releases adrenaline, and your heart pumps more blood to your muscles and limbs in preparation for fight or flight. Because the two emotions provoke similar bodily responses, it can become difficult to identify which is which. You can’t tell whether your amygdala is responding to an outside trigger in a fear response, or if your adrenal glands are preparing you to fight when you’re angry.

The Blending of Anger and Fear

On top of the general confusion of these emotions, they may blend. It is also common for some to be afraid of their anger. Maybe you don’t like how you tend to act when you are angry. You may fear your aggression; you fear you may go too far when you’re angry. If you’ve experienced abuse of any kind, it may go further than a general fear. You may feel a completely terrified aversion to anger.

Another way anger and fear may blend together is when you fear a lack of control. If you are uncomfortable not having control of a situation, you may begin to feel unsafe which provokes a fear response. To cope with that fear, you may go on the aggressive or choose the fight response. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are angry. You are trying to regain the sense of safety through aggression. However, by acting on the aggression, it may cause anger to rise.

Talk to a Therapist to Help You Identify Your Feelings

If you struggle to identify your feelings, talking to a therapist can help. You can work with them to begin practicing labeling your own emotions throughout your day-to-day life. As you identify them, you can learn to cope with each one. A therapist may even help you identify the cause of your fear or anger when it arises. They can point out patterns you may have missed.

Mindfuli understands that it can be hard to distinguish the difference between your anger and your fear. These two emotions commonly present in similar ways. It can feel overwhelming to try identifying them on your own too. In therapy, you can learn ways to start identifying your feelings. Then, you can strategize ways to find the source of your triggers. You’ll also learn coping mechanisms to calm your emotions when they arise. Whether you’re afraid or angry, Mindfuli can help you. You are so much more than your negative emotions. Now is the time to stand up and fight for the life you deserve. Call us at (866) 973-4415 to learn more.

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