Rage, anyone? In this episode, co-hosts Karen Hawkins and Katie Morell discuss why it’s so hard to express anger, what’s making them filled with rage these days (gummy bears, library book return policies), how women aren’t socialized to express anger & how a 90-second meditation can help us all cope with stabby feelings.
Find the episode on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. Stream the entire episode here or read the transcript.
Keep in touch with co-hosts Karen Hawkins and Katie Morell on Twitter and Instagram.
Katie: OK, how do we want to start each one of these? Like . . .
Karen: Ohh, how did we start the last one?
Katie: The last one, we just kind of started talking. But we could just start talking like . . .
Karen: OK, so, because this is an audio project and not a podcast, we don’t have a structure and we don’t know what we’re doing.
Katie: Yes, correct.
Karen: So what that looks like is that we started this conversation talking about something, catching up, and then we decided to record this episode, and Katie, tell the folks what we started talking about today when we got on the phone.
Katie: Well, Karen, we’d got on the phone and within, I would say conservatively six seconds, we started talking about one of my favorite topics, which is rage.
Karen: Yep, rage.
Katie: Rage. So yeah, we just dove right in.
Karen: That is exactly right.
Katie: Oh, so calm, so just with it. And, and we just, we then proceeded to talk about the specific things that are igniting rage within us, respectively.
Katie: Yes. It was a very therapeutic conversation in my opinion.
Karen: I completely agree. And I feel like, as I’m thinking about it, I feel like a lot of people are talking about rage right now, and we’re not talking about systemic rage. We’re not talking about any kind of a larger world issue, rage. We’re just like, there is a bunch of shit going on with us right now that we’re just really mad about.
Katie: Yes, exactly. We are talking about the rage that is inside of our minds. That is inside of our, of our, like, you know, I get really rageful sometimes when I can’t open a packet of gummy bears. Like that’s the rage what I’m talking about a little bit right now.
Karen: Oh, my god.
Katie: I mean, there’s, there are, there are some things that just are igniting rage in me that weren’t previously, and maybe that is, you know, like tangentially, you know, related to like the lump of coal that is in the White House or whatever. But you know what, like, there’s, there’s a lot of feelings right now that I’m having.
Karen: So many feelings. And as we talked about, all of the feelings are heightened right now. Like the gummy bears before, you’re a super chill person, you’d have been like really gummy bears work with me. And now there’s the homicidal rage about the gummy bears. And that’s how I feel about a lot of things right now. Like, for me, it’s SodaStream. SodaStream, if you are listening, I’m gonna need you to get your shit together. So I’ve paid for your goddamn carbonated water maker, and there are no canisters anywhere. And I was like looking at the guy at Target with his mask on, who was trying to be very polite, but I just wanted to strangle him like, Gimme the goddamn canister! So that’s where I’m at right now.
Katie: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Don’t even start with me on my library return policy, because that is where my rage is coming from right now. The other day, I’m trying really hard to be a good citizen where I return library books on time. Nobody gives a fuck about library books right now, apparently, at least the library in my town doesn’t because it has a huge sign in front of the return that says no returns. You can only return in like a two-hour window on Tuesdays.
Karen: Wait, what?
Katie: For real. And so I am, you know, I’m just, I’m sitting in my car and it just so happened, maybe it was Source, maybe it was the universe, maybe the clouds opened up. I actually was within that two-hour window in the exact moment that I went there and I was like, this is the best thing ever, because I think I would have switched quite quickly into homicidal rage if I wasn’t, because I would have had to drive the extra five minutes home and five minutes back, the next Tuesday.
Karen: We’ve talked about, of course, is that as women, we are not socialized to be angry. We’re certainly not socialized to be rageful. And that is such a wildly unhealthy way to live your life, to like never allow yourself to be angry, never allow yourself to express it in any meaningful, important, productive way. Like it’s a natural emotion, like where I eventually came to with anger for me. And I spent a long time, very, very, very angry about a lot of different things. Um, is that like, it’s like laughing. It’s like laughing when somebody tickles you it’s like anything that happens that upsetting. It’s totally fine to get angry about it. It’s what you do with the anger that could become a problem. But just being angry is not a problem.
Katie: 100 percent. I feel like that’s such an important distinction because that’s a message that I, not only did I not get it as a child, but I continue not to get it as an adult. Like, it’s just not, I really feel like women are not socialized to even have that as an OK emotion. Like, it’s something that’s like, Oh, you’re angry. Like, Oh, it’s going to be okay. Like, you’ll be all right. Like, Oh, let’s, let’s dampen that as quickly and as aggressively as possible, which I don’t know about you with that increases my rage.
But like, that’s the thing is, is that it’s, it’s so interesting to me to even see in the media, like how I will say in particular, men react to women who are angry. They’re absolutely terrified. Like, I mean, it’s just, it’s full-on terror, but what’s interesting to me also is that, like, I think I’m socialized to be afraid of anger as well, as a woman socialized, to be afraid of it. Like I see other women, I don’t get afraid of other women’s anger, but I get afraid of male anger. I get afraid of just like general anger in the world, because I’m like, well, what’s going to happen. Like, does this mean that the whole world is going to fall apart? Like, no, it’s an actual emotion that everyone can feel and it’s OK.
Karen: Absolutely. Yeah. I thought of something while you were talking and now it’s gone, you’ll get it. You’ll fix this whole thing in post.
Karen: Yeah. We’re not allowed to be angry. We’re not allowed to express it. And I feel like for me as a Black woman, getting angry is just like, not an option because I feel like whenever I think about even being in public or being out in the world, expressing any kind of anger, I immediately go to Oprah Winfrey and the Color Purple getting beat down and put in prison for however many years. Like, I just think like that’s where my head goes. Like I can’t, if I’m the angry Black woman, it’s not only just like, I’m going to get bad customer service. It’s like these fools could call the cops on me. I’m just going to calm him down. And I feel like it isn’t necessarily the reason I try to just be a chill person in general, but I’m sure subconsciously that is part of why I’m just like, I’m just going to be chill and just deal with this situation, like try to deal with the situation productively as much as possible.
Katie: But I find that that’s really hard because it creates like a level of emotional labor of like in the moment in every, like in the minute, like real-time processing of our own anger to then process it to then spew it into the, not spew is the wrong word, like to put it into the world in a beautifully packaged box versus what it really is, which inside of us is just like shards of glass that are like, you know, like, you know, Gutting our insides.
Katie: Like recently I listened to this podcast episode, that was, it’s many years old now, but it was Oprah and Maya Angelou. And one of the things that Oprah was talking with Maya about was her Oprah was explaining how she felt like Maya was so fierce in terms of her own boundaries and what would make her angry. And it, like, it was so interesting to listen to it because as Oprah was having this conversation with Maya, she was like, Hey, I remember, this is very meta that I’m talking about another podcast, but anyway. But like, the thing is, is that like, she, she actually said, she was like, I remember going to your house on a few occasions. And someone saying something that was either racist or something that was like, like a form of bigotry or there was something that was really wrong with what they were saying. And Oprah was saying, I’ll never forget how you just kick them out of your house, just first, first offense they’re gone. And, and Maya was like, well, yeah, of course. I don’t want to use her words exactly, I don’t remember exactly what she said, but she was like, well, why wouldn’t I do that? And Oprah was like, it was disconcerting. Like, I was like, Oh, you can do that. Like you can do, you can do this thing where you can actually show your anger, show your, I don’t know if she used the word rage, but like Maya was so like, like she was so empowered to say like, yeah, like not in my house, not in, and it was really interesting because it just showed kind of intertwined with our conversation about rage that like, you actually can do that. And I don’t think there’s enough examples of that.
Like, I think about that podcast episode all the time. I swear to God, I probably listened to it like eight years ago. And I’m just like, well, Maya Angelou did that, I can do what I want. OK. I have to remember that. I keep having to remember that. And then it’s like, in the moment I don’t have just like, I have to package it up and make it in a pretty Nordstrom bow for everyone to be able to metabolize it, except for me.
Karen: Not that there’s anything wrong with Nordstrom. Let’s just be clear.
Katie: You’re right. Nordstrom. We welcome you as a sponsor. If you’re interested.
Karen: I think your women’s bathrooms are the happiest place on earth and please never change.
Karen: Yeah, no, I, I hear you. We have to process real time, like you said, and package it up. And I feel like I, I do try to go to, I just was on an exchange with somebody at work today. They weren’t angry at me. They were angry about something. And I feel like they already had the answer, right? They were venting, but it was just like, you will have already in this venting, the answer is in there already. You just need to set firm boundaries and not give in to wanting to take care of this person. Who’s making you angry. I’d be like, that’s the other thing we do. And this was two men who were having an issue, but you know, it’s like, yeah, yeah, you get into this place where you express your anger and then the other person reacts. And then you end up taking care of them because you’ve upset them by getting angry. Oh my God.
Katie: That is so true. And then your anger it’s like compound anger. I don’t know if that’s a, that’s an actual term. I’m not a psychologist, but it just feels like there are layers on top of layers, because really what you’re angry about is not like the initial, if I understand what you’re saying, the initial piece that you’re angry about is actually not being dealt with. You’re angry that they are like putting their stuff on you.
Karen: Absolutely. Yes. Like you said, this thing, I don’t like, I got angry and I told you I didn’t like that thing. And then you got upset. And so now I have to take care of you. Cause you’re upset that you said this thing I don’t like, like what, how did we get here? How did we get here?
Katie: Exactly, exactly. But if we were able to somehow have the tools to figure out how to handle our anger and to welcome it, like it would be so amazing. I mean, I will say that, like I do have one example of a family that I’ve actually seen in the wild, like in real, in real life that has amazing boundaries. And also that has these like processes in place where it’s like, there’s two kids and there’s two parents and the kids are able to express their anger and the parents don’t shy away from it. And these are people who are, the parents are probably in their mid-40s, kids now teenagers and I have been around them enough that I’m like, wait, wait, wait. That’s a thing. Hold on. That’s a thing. Because when I was a kid and if I got angry, it wasn’t embraced in the same way. It was hard. I mean, I don’t even fault my parents because they were the same. They didn’t have that training either. So I will say that the, the woman, who is the mother of these two children has her master’s degree in early childhood development. So there you go.
Karen: OK. There you go. I mean, that’s true. That’s what we all needl to negotiate situations well, fine. Not a problem. Everything’s remote learning now. I’m sure we can get one of those just in a couple of weeks.
Katie: Exactly. Call them right up.
Karen: Oh yeah. I feel like I, um, the note, I just wrote to my self about like how to not end up caretaking is like to stop talking. That’s the hard thing, like when the person reacts and gets upset to just like, let them get upset that I’ve spoken my truth about being angry and then just be like, OK, well, I was upset. I told you, you had your reaction. Now we’re done. I guess like you’re either going to apologize or you’re not, right. Like, it’s hard to like, not keep the conversation going to a place that ends up, like now I’m apologizing that I told you I was angry and that made you upset.
Katie: Oh my gosh, Karen, that is a Jedi tip right there. Seriously just sitting and listening and allow, it’s like personal sovereignty too, because you’re like, OK, that’s my feeling. You can be angry at my anger. That’s your feeling, but I’m not going to let it muddle any, anything. Like we’re both standing in our own sovereignty. That’s beautiful. Ooh. I’m going to use that. Hopefully if I remember.
Karen: We’ll remember this podcast, not a podcast episode next time.
Katie: Yes, exactly.
Katie: But yeah, I mean, I do think to talk a little bit about like how this time is affecting our anger. I think, you know, it’s just, I find that like sometimes I, my anger spikes when I’m, you know, so like, so wrapped up in what’s happening with the news. And then I have to realize like, how do I handle that? Like, I’m not perfect at figuring out how to handle that anger because it doesn’t actually go anywhere. Like, I, I can’t tell Donald Trump how I feel and I’m not willing to engage with him on Twitter. So I think it’s like . . .
Karen: Well, and I feel like “Just vote,” like isn’t really all that satisfying. Like it, of course it is. And of course it’s vital to our democracy and all of the things, but even, and I feel like even marching, even the women’s March, I feel like that expression of anger in 2017, especially that first one felt really good. And then I’ve just watched it dissipate.
Karen: How do you, yeah, I feel like there are people who are really good at channeling their anger into really productive, sustainable things, or that they’re able to channel it into something that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Right. It doesn’t have to be ongoing, but just like, I channeled my anger and I did this thing with it, but I don’t know that I’m there.
Katie: I don’t know if I’m there either. It’s not comfortable to be angry all the time, but I do feel like there’s a low level of it. Often. I think one thing that I find interesting about anger for me is that when I get really, really mad, it’s very hard to switch from anger to like happiness or anger to, you know, like I don’t easily switch from like, I’ve seen some people do this where they’re getting really, really mad. And then they’re like 10 minutes later. It’s like, Oh, Hey, okay. I got that out. Let’s go, let’s go do something. And I’m like, no, no, no, you don’t understand if I’m mad. Like, that’s, that’s a committed experience.
Karen: I live here now.
Katie: I live here now, exactly. I think that I would love to be one of those people that like, you know, like, like actors, like I remember like hearing actors who are like in horror movies, for example, and they have to like have these really horrible scenes. And then they come out of it and the director like yells cut, and then they go to craft services and they’re like, Hey, you want to be here later? Like whatever, you know? And it’s like, I, I mean, that’s clearly, that’s like a profession and like being angry in your personal life is different. But do you have that, like, do you find it really easy to switch? Cause I can’t switch.
Karen: No, no, no, no. I have a meditation and even this doesn’t always work. So the Calm meditation app, I think I’ve mentioned this to you before. So they have a 90-second, it’s called something like think or reset or something like whatever. And this brain science behind it is that if you can get your brain to stop cycling through how angry you are for 90 seconds, that you can cal, yourself down.
Karen: That like, there’s something to that. The reason that we get, like there’s an initial spark of your anger, right? Like even if it lasts for a long time, you’re angry because of something that happened and what keeps us angry is that we do that thing where we just keep, we keep processing through it and just looking at it from all these other sides and just like massaging it and letting it stab us a bunch of times. Right. Like we can’t just like, let it go. And I feel like, yeah, the brain science is that like, you can just kind of stop for 90 seconds, that it will calm you down. Has it worked for me in the past briefly?
Do I get angry again 10 minutes later? Probably.
Katie: OK. That’s a really good tip though. I mean the Calm app is so wonderful. I love Tamara Levitt and all of the people who are on that, like she makes me so calm and happy and like I have done like the anger meditations there, but only like the 10 minute one. So I didn’t know. There was a 90-second reset. Oh, hell yes. I need that 92nd reset.
Karen: Oh, it’s really good. There’s like a three minute explanation of the 90-second reset and then step like a totally separate medication is the 90 seconds.
Katie: Oh, it on that’s amazing. I mean the reset, like I feel like there’s yeah. I think that’s part of it though. Like the fact that there’s this social construct that like, we’re not allowed to be angry. And so like when we are angry, it’s hard to know how to get over that anger. Like it’s like, Oh, well what does this mean? Look, what do you do with this? Like if you’re, if you like what you’re saying in terms of like cycling. Oh, I completely understand what you’re saying about that? Like looking at it, but looking at it from an aerial view, looking at it from a side view, looking at it from a magnifying glass. Oh my gosh. I mean, that can just last for days years.
Karen: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s really, it’s just interesting to me. Cause I feel like I I’ve been thinking a lot about like anger and holding onto anger and like, I don’t have anybody in my family for instance, that I have a grudge with, but I think it’s so interesting, like people like siblings who don’t talk for decades over to this one thing that happened and I’m so angry, I can never deal with you again ever in my life. And it’s like that. I don’t, yeah. I, that I’ve never done. I’ve never gotten there, but I just, I’m always so fascinated by that. Like we just are so trained. We’re not, we’re so bad at getting through it and moving through it that we just cut people out of our lives.
Katie: I think you’re right. That we are not socialized to figure out how to get through it. We’re not.
Karen: What is the, Oh my God. Where is this quote from? I don’t, it might be from AA. I don’t remember where this quote is from, but it’s something like, Staying angry is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Katie: That is the exact, I mean, that’s it that’s everything right there it is, is because really anger is such an internal experience and it’s like, you’re, if you just stay angry, stay forever at the same person, and you don’t try to work things out or try to somehow get over it. Even if, I mean, I know that there are situations where people really, it’s not safe for them to be near that person or like a variety of iterations of that situation, which I completely understand and also respect, but like if there’s a way to get to forgiveness there. Yeah.
Katie: So to wrap up on anger, I feel less angry from this conversation. Thank you.
Karen: As do I. Thank you. Yes. Okay. So what I do feel, I feel like we gave some solutions, some anger management solution tips in here.
Katie: Yeah. I mean, I think that your solution of the 90-second Calm meditation is the best solution that we have come up with. I think for me, I mean, honestly, if I really am being truthful about like what actually helps me with anger is just actually expressing it like for real expressing it. And if I can’t express it and or it’s not safe to express it, I will journal about it. And sometimes that works and sometimes I just hate my journal. And so then I’ll say the third thing is like with the Calm meditation, the, you know, telling the person or journaling, I would say that movement for me is huge.
Like moving my body and like going on a run or going on a long walk without my phone or whatever it is that will often help as well. Um, but yeah, I wish I had better tips. I don’t know.
Karen: I feel like that’s pretty good. That’s like, those are pretty good.
Katie: Does anything help? Is the call meditation, your number one?
Karen: It was for awhile, there was, I had a rough, a very rough work situation where I just meditated every single day. And I feel like it was top of mind for me that 90-second meditation. I feel like now in our heightened state of like the gummy bears make me homicidally angry, stage of where we are in life right now. I don’t, I need to find some new strategies. It’s hard to not always be in a constant state of just like rage and helplessness. And I know things that go with rage, so.
Katie: OK. I will say one more, one more tip that I actually have found really helpful. I watched Queer Eye on Netflix. Have you ever seen that show?
Karen: I’ve watched the OG one, like the original version.
Katie: OK. So that one is completely different than this version. Like this version is really wonderful and it’s not, it’s not like a game. It’s not like a bunch of, you know, people who are gay trying to help just like a clueless white cisgender guy. That’s just, that’s so boring. And so like, that’s not what this is. It’s actually the, like it’s so deep and like, it really makes you, it gives you faith in humanity. It gives me faith in humanity. I actually really love it. I’m also watching the British Baking Show, which is also really great. And like, I find that if I, if I watch those things on repeat, it does help a little bit. I will say that Jonathan Van Ness is one of my favorite people. And so is tan, France, and all of these amazing people who are on this show.
Karen: Did you see Jonathan Nan Ness was in the New York Times crossword today? He tweeted about it.
Katie: What? No.
Karen: Either today or one day this week. Yeah. He tweeted about like how excited his grandma would have been that he was a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle.
Katie: That’s amazing. Yeah. Yeah. That is, I mean, he’s, he’s like a national treasure. I mean, I think that he’s just so wonderful and I have been shocked on how many times I’ve cried in that show. Like genuinely cried. Like people like have like real epiphanies, and it’s like, Oh, this is so amazing. I didn’t love the Queer Eye, like back in like the early 2000s. I don’t know. There were some, it was okay. But it wasn’t great.
Karen: And I haven’t watched it in forever. OK, the last thing I would say about Jonathan Van Ness, cause I’ve never watched that show is, have you seen, do you follow Brene Brown on Instagram? Yes. Did you see, they ran into each other in the woods?
Katie: They ran into each other on like a random hike in Austin or something. I was like, I was like, what is even happening right now? Like, is that where they, I mean, I know she lives in Texas. I didn’t know he lives in Texas, but I think they both were so shocked by seeing each other. Thank you all for listening to this episode of, I forgot the name of our thing. Of course I’m Not OK. I just keep thinking about rage. Clearly, I’m not OK.
Karen: Yeah, no, I’m also totally not OK. I don’t, OK.
Katie: Tune in next time.
Karen: Tune in next time.