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I’M NOT ANGRY. YOU’RE SCARED

For as long as there has been human socialization, discussion, debate, confrontation or even dialogue, there has been the age old tactic of ‘changing the subject.’  We’ve all experienced it.  We’ve all indulged in it.  Those of us who are a little smarter than the average folk out there are especially victimized by a particular genre of this tactic.  The discussion is underway, and each party is offering their thoughts.  The tables then turn in your favor, and you see the victory in sight.   Your counterpart then comes out with…“Why are you so angry?’

            For someone to say ‘why are you so angry’ to someone else is pragmatically insane.  Just look at what they’re doing to you.  In one sentence, one sentence, they are telling you how you feel and asking you to explain why you feel the way you’ve just been told you feel.  Notice the question includes the words ‘are you’, meaning ‘you are’.  And the object of the sentence is ‘angry’.  In total, meaning ‘you are angry.’  Preface that interrogatively with the word ‘why’ and you have one of the most crippling, straight jacketing mind games you could hope to lay on someone, and in only five words.  Is telling someone they’re angry supposed to help things at that point?  Is that an endorsement or a means of endearing yourself to someone?  In terms of intensity of degradation and insult I would liken its impact to telling someone they’re mean or stupid or childish, rude, defensive, arrogant, cold, stuck up etc.  Are those normally the kinds of rainbows and butterflies which bring a discussion to a sound and agreeable conclusion?  And if being told you personify something negative wasn’t bad enough, in this case you also have to explain why you are so dastardly.  As long as it’s fair game to lead someone with a statement that is part question and part identification, why not ask a parent why they don’t love their child?  Ask a straight person what they desire about their own gender.  Ask a vegan why they like meat. 

             The most obvious and probably the most truthful reason for someone to ask you why you are angry during a discussion is with the intent to deliberately sabotage the discussion.  It’s no coincidence that the most common time for someone to use this sinister tactic is right at the moment in the discussion when the tide has turned in your favor.  As soon as you make a good point or you have them cornered with something that’s incontestable that’s when they suddenly become obsessed with clarifying your emotional disposition.  Would it be so hard for them to simply acknowledge that you’d made a point they hadn’t considered?  Must they cower like gutless children, petrified they may have to concede in any way?  It’s such an obvious ploy to avoid accountability when you consider: What possible answer or explanation could you give, such that the two of you could then resume your discussion?  The moment you may say, ‘I’m not angry’, they’ve won.  The two of you will now be engaged in an actual debate over what your emotions are.  “You’re not angry? You seem angry. I could tell by the look on your face and the sound of your voice…” and you’re off and running…What if you tried to give them an answer that would acknowledge or endorse their query ? “I’m not just angry.  I’m enraged.  The reason I’m enraged is because I’m a Nazi bastard.  We’re always enraged.  Now can we please get back to the point I just made?”  That probably wouldn’t work either.  

             If asking you why you’re angry is not an act of deliberate sabotage, the alterative reason may be something far more sad.  Perhaps they truly are obsessed and fascinated with your feelings and emotions.  They must suffer from such a lack of socialization that the moment they think they witness human emotion in another person, everything they’re doing at that moment ceases and they just have to find out, ‘My god, what makes this person tick?’  They absolutely cannot continue the discussion until their obsession and fascination is satiated.  Poor souls.

             Since ‘changing the subject’ is an age old tactic, I recommend an age old defense.  Fight fire with fire.  Do the exact same thing they’re doing by answering immediately with, ”Why are you so scared?”  If they’re gonna tell you how you feel, tell them how they feel.  And if that seems silly or childish or stupid then it had to be silly, childish and stupid when they initiated it.  You could actually make a case at that point that they really are scared and that’s why they’re changing the subject but you don’t have to bother.  Just keep going back and forth with them until they agree to resume the discussion.  “Why are you so angry/Why are you so scared?  What do you mean,, scared?/What do you mean , angry?  Well I can tell you’re angry./Well I can tell you’re scared.  Where do you get the idea I’m scared?/Same place you get that I’m angry.  Can’t you be any nicer?  Can’t you be any smarter?  Would you please calm down?/Would you please overcome your fear?”……It’s so simple, it’s brilliant.

             Discussions, disagreements, confrontations and debates all embody a two sided nature.  One person’s anger is another person’s passion.  It’s only normal for there to be an inherent heatedness to these discussions.  Chances are more than likely that one, if not both parties are angry.  So what?  It would only make sense.  Even in reading this post you could easily, and cleverly, say to me, “Gee, you seem awfully angry.” What if that was true?  Is that some kiss of death?  Would that negate my position somehow?  Although hopefully by now you realize that if you did dare to tell me I was angry I’d have no choice to but to tell you, you were just scared.

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