In the Phantom Menace, Yoda says “fear leads to anger .. anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering ( or s/t like that).
While I can’t address Yoda’s universe, using the emotions as tools model, we can unpack and gain a better understanding of what this quote means in our universe.
Fear and anger are two of 6 primary emots which helped us survive as a species when we lived on the savannah and it was “eat or be eaten”.
Fear prepares us to freeze or flee. The message of fear is that the threat we face is dangerous and our life is at stake. The reaction to fear is immediate and taken without a whole lot of thot. This is how we were hardwired and was “designed” to keep us alive just as the same process may have kept a deer pursuer by a predator alive. Fear works today the same way it did so many eons ago.
Anger prepares us for battle. The message of anger is that we are more powerful than our attacker. Our body girds for war, our attention narrows on the opponent, and “it’s on”.
We’ll get to hate shortly.
So, with all due respect to YODA, fear is separate from and would not lead to anger. Run and attack are mutually exclusive.
You could, however, decide that you’ve had enough of being fearful and become angry.
As a domestic abuse victim, with nothing more to lose, you might decide to go “all in” and attack. Or, the community ravished by gang violence picks up hammers, tire irons and “pitchforks” and says “enough is enough”.
The important point here is that fear did not lead to, elicit, or morph to become anger. Anger was expressed because the victims changed the way they chose to view their situation. They redefined themselves as survivors and thrivers rather than as helpless victims.
The Emotions as Tools model tells us that after we react emotionally to our perception, we choose our emotional response by the thoughts we have.
When you change your thoughts, you change your feelings.
This process is what happens in therapy when cognitive restructuring is used to treat maladaptive thinking and the psychological pain that follows from it.
YODA says that anger leads to hate.
As I noted in a previous post, the message of hate is that you both detest
(and are obsessed) another person or his (or her) actions of another. At the extreme, you may think of nothing else but that which is the object of your hate.
While hate and anger share some characteristics including the perception of threat and a desire to eliminate that threat, hate is all consuming! Anger can become chronic and all consuming. When this happens, anger, as a primary emotion, has morphed and become a maladaptive anger. This cancerous form of anger is not only unhealthy psychologically but can also lead to sometimes fatal physical illnesses.
So, getting back to YODA, in the case of anger and hate, he may be right but not necessarily for the reasons you might think.
Here is the progression from anger to hate.
If you are angry with someone and the perceived threat is indeed valid, your anger could become chronic or you could begin to hate the other person if you chose to avoid dealing with the because, perhaps you perceived an insurmountable power difference between you and the other person and you were concerned about your own well-being.
In this example, anger has not led to hate but has morphed into hate.
Not exactly what YODA is implying.
YODA seems to be saying that we should not get angry.
This is very similar to those who say “Anger is one letter away from danger.” and “Anger is a negative emotion.”
While it is true that anger energizes us for battle and that people, when angry, can do things they later regret, anger is ONLY (emphasis added) a tool, does not cause you to do anything, and is not to be blamed for the poor decisions you might make while angry.
The goal is to acknowledge that anger is just a tool and learn how to master it to improve your life and your relationships.
My most recent Amazon bestselling book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool shows you how to do this.
You can download the first two chapters of my book without opt-in by scrolling up to the Welcome post above.
Finally, YODA notes that hate leads to suffering. In this observation, he is absolutely correct.
When you hate, you become obsessed with the object of your hate. This obsession can cloud your thinking and result in actions you might later come to regret. Doing something that might get you locked up or destroy a relationship could easily be seen as causing “suffering”.
This does not mean that you eliminate the emotion of hate.
Again, hate, like all emotions, is just a tool. When you understand and master your hate, your validate the emotion, assess the information that emotion is communicating to you, and choose how you want to respond to the emotion and the situation about which the emotion is informing you.
In the case of hate, the message of obsession and loss of objectivity could be enough to move you away from hate and back to anger and lead you to formulate an effective plan to deal with the perceived threat.
I welcome your comments.