All right. So I want you to imagine that you get a text from a friend, and it reads: “You will NOT believe what just happened. I’m SO MAD right now!”
So you do the dutiful thing as a friend, and you ask for details. And they tell you a story about what happened to them at the gym or at work or on their date last night.
And you listen and you try to understand why they’re so mad. Maybe even secretly judge whether or not they should be so mad.
And maybe you even offer some suggestions.
Now, in that moment, you are doing essentially what I get to do every day, because I’m an anger researcher. And as an anger researcher, I spend a good part of my professional life — who am I kidding, also my personal life — studying why people get mad.
I study the types of thoughts they have when they get mad, and I even study what they do when they get mad, whether it’s getting into fights or breaking things, or even yelling at people in all caps on the internet.
And as you can imagine, when people hear I’m an anger researcher, they want to talk to me about their anger, they want to share with me their anger stories.
And it’s not because they need a therapist, though that does sometimes happen, it’s really because anger is universal. It’s something we all feel and it’s something they can relate to. We’ve been feeling it since the first few months of life, when we didn’t get what we wanted in our cries of protests, things like, “What do you mean you won’t pick up the rattle, Dad, I want it!”