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Why we get mad -- and why it's healthy | Ryan Martin

Updated on July 10
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Key Smash Notes In This Episode

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As an anger researcher, Ryan Martin spends a good part of his professional and personal life studying why people get mad. He studies the types of thoughts people have when they get mad, and also what people do when they get mad.

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Some examples of anger during the best moments of our lives are when we have special occasions like vacations and weddings. These events are often marred by bad frustrations in the moment, but are ultimately forgotten once things turn out well.

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The recipe for anger is provocations that include things that are unpleasant, when they feel unfair, when goals are blocked that could have been avoided, and over things that leave us powerless.

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It depends on what we’re doing and how we’re feeling during the provocation matter. This is the pre-anger state. When we feel those other things, the provocations tend to feel much worse. What truly matters is how we make sense of the anger.

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It’s also known as an irrational belief. Angry people tend to put blame where it doesn’t belong, such as inanimate objects. They also tend to overgeneralize and use words like always, never, and every. People will also put their own needs ahead of others.

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Ryan Martin states that our anger exists in us as an emotion because it offered our ancestors both human and non-human with an evolutionary advantages. It’s one way our brains communicate to us that we have had enough. It also energizes us to confront something.

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Anger is a part of a pattern of physiological experiences that exists. When we’re mad, our heart rate and breathing increase. We start to sweat, which is our sympathetic nervous system kicking in the energy for us to respond. Our digestion system also slows down to help us conserve energy.

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Unlike our club swinging ancestors, we have the capacity to regulate our emotions. We can channel our anger into something more productive.

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Anger can motivate us to respond to injustice. There are various ways to fix a problem. We have to get mad first, then channel that anger into fighting back, which doesn’t have to be with aggression or hostility.

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