Bonus: How do we work with anger?

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In this bonus episode, Dr. Monica Band joins supervising producer Chrystal Genesis to discuss  anger. Monica and Chrystal unpack where it comes from, how to respond to someone’s anger, and what you can do to manage your own relationship with anger.

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Dr. Monica Band is the host of this show and consultant with the Jed Foundation. Chrystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort and Rachel Lightner are our producers. Andi Kristindottir is our engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and original music by Bobby Woody. Additional music by Andi Kristinsdottir. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson. Jackie Danziger is our VP of Narrative Content. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs.

This series was created with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults. Find ways to manage your emotional health, cope with challenges, and support the people in your life at 

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This series is also presented by the Stupski Foundation, returning resources to the communities it calls home in Hawaiʻi and the San Francisco Bay Area by 2029 to support just and resilient food, health, and higher education systems for all. Learn more at 

This series is also presented by the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Learn more at

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To follow along with a transcript, go to shortly after the air date.



Dr. Monica Band, Chrystal Genesis

Dr. Monica Band  01:11

Hi, I’m Dr. Monica Band, a trauma therapist and host of I Need To Ask You Something. I’m here with another preview of the I Need To Ask You Something premium episodes, there are 10 and you can hear them all by becoming a Lemonada premium member. Subscribe to Lemonada premium and you will also get access to exclusive and bonus content from all Lemonada podcasts. So not just our series. These episodes are a mix of mental health concepts with important takeaways, and sessions we didn’t have time to fit into our regular series, you will learn about conflict avoidance, the fear of failure, and how to deal with guilt. So throughout the making of this podcast, some themes came up quite a bit, such as anger. I’m thinking of Seth or Harley AM’s conversations, in my line of work, something I’ve really noticed is that you can’t have change or healing without talking about anger. And I personally think anger is a very misunderstood emotion. So with that, let’s get into it. I’m joined by my supervising producer, Chrystal Genesis to talk anger and learn how we can work with it. Chrystal has been on this journey with me from day one. So it is really great to be here with her right now. Hey, Chrystal.

Chrystal Genesis  02:30

Thank you for having me on your show.

Dr. Monica Band  02:33

Well, we have something really interesting to talk about today, don’t we?

Chrystal Genesis  02:36

Yeah, and I think you’re right, there’s like so much that I’ve just picked up just from like making the show with you, so I’m really excited to dig in a bit more, because I have some questions. But I also know that this is going to be like super beneficial for people listening. So yeah, thank you. And are you ready?

Dr. Monica Band  02:53

I’m ready. Let’s go.

Chrystal Genesis  02:55

Okay, so as you said earlier, anger is an emotion that is pretty misunderstood. And I really want to start there like super basic, what is anger?

Dr. Monica Band  03:08

So anger is an emotion that is often characterized by defensiveness or antagonism towards someone or something that you feel has deliberately done something wrong to you, right? So our initial feelings and reactions to anger, often are negatively expressed, or they’re being motivated by what we interpret as malicious and sometimes even violent. And so our reaction to that is often fear. And so when we think about anger, I say it gets a bad rap, and it is misunderstood, because our minds immediately go to someone who is screaming or violent or hot headed, but if we slow it down a little bit, we don’t really think about anger in a nuanced way.

Chrystal Genesis  03:56

What, do you mean by that? That’s really interesting, because you’re right, I just think about someone like shouting or like physical abuse, but there’s like a lot more in that like a spectrum or something.

Dr. Monica Band  04:07

So, when we receive someone who is angry, we immediately can feel threatened, we can feel fear, we can immediately feel stress, or maybe we feel angry right back, and so a lot of our experiences with anger are obviously negative. But if we slow down and we think about the nuance of anger, we recognize just like any emotion, it’s on a spectrum. And what I mean by that is that we can experience low grade irritation, maybe even heightened frustration. Yeah, we can experience what we call anger, but then we might experience severe anger, which would often call rage, right, is sort of this uncontrollable sense. And so has I described sort of that spectrum and we slow down we can begin to see that anger, certainly has some gradients to it. Anger is also something that we consider to be a secondary emotion. And what that means is that primary emotions like fear or loss or grief or sadness is what is often experienced first, but because those emotions are very vulnerable, and there is a sense of a loss of control, that then makes us feel uncomfortable, we immediately subconsciously shift into anger, which is a defensive state. And so we’re more likely to experience anger, before we show our fear, loss or sadness first.

Chrystal Genesis  05:37

Now, I know what you mean when people say that. So essentially, we’re feeling like fear or sad or like upset, but our first thing is the defense, and then we’re able to really feel what we’re really feeling afterwards. And that’s also connected to the fact that we’ve like blown our top as well. So there’s extra weight on that, is that right?

Dr. Monica Band  05:59

Yes, and also, I want to add that anger shows up in the body in very different ways for folks, some people might experience an increase in heart rate, sweat, redness, or flush in the face. If you look really closely, maybe people’s pupils dilate, maybe you get really fidgety or agitated, where you need to move, maybe your voice gets louder, or you hit your window of tolerance, as we call it in therapy. And instead of getting overtly frustrated, or wordly, angry, and expressive, you actually shut down, and you stonewall or you walk out of the room, or you stomp away, right. So unfortunately, there isn’t a cookie cutter way in which we experience emotion. But those are a few kind of universal feelings. If you are receiving someone’s anger, a question that might defuse that moment might be what are you afraid of? Right? You might want to watch your tone on that, though, you don’t want to be like, well, what are you afraid of? But it really is true, right? Like, think about Harley Ann for example, and how she described how she was really angry. But there was also a lot of loss underneath that.

Chrystal Genesis  07:18

She said she was angry for a long time with her mom.

Dr. Monica Band  07:21

Because she experienced a lot of loss both in identity physically, in her ability status in her way of life and her future, in addition to her dad, and even her mom, to some extent with substance use struggles.

Chrystal Genesis  07:36

Definitely, and I just want to go back as well to like the spectrum just to make sure I have this right. Because you said like, you know, rage might be in there like frustration or you know, some people do the silent treatment and you can really like feel that energy. Do you think anger is like an umbrella term? And then everything else is underneath that? Or have I got that mixed up?

Dr. Monica Band  07:56

No, that’s a great way to put it. Anger is a term we use often, but we actually aren’t describing anger. We’re describing those other types of anger underneath that are gradients or flavors, if you will of anger. So we’ll say we’re angry, but this is dependent on someone’s say emotional literacy and understanding about how else to label their emotions. So they very well could say that they’re angry. But what they really might mean is they’re frustrated. You mentioned something earlier, too, about resentment, and resentment is also a type of anger. But it is often left unexpressed, right, so these are all sort of our pent up feelings, right, which have rage or of frustration that get built up over time. And we kind of push them down for many reasons. And sometimes that shows up and doing things out of responsibility or obligation or convincing ourselves we’re like the bigger person, and instead, right, do something we think we should do, but in fact, is very at odds with what we actually want. Right? That makes anyone angry. Anger is a reaction to a sense of injustice. And when we feel like something is unjustly done to us, we’re going to feel defensive.

Chrystal Genesis  09:16

And you mentioned this earlier, but I’d love to dig into this a little bit more. What about when you’re on the receiving end of it? When someone’s angry with you? I love what you just said you would say to them, like what are you afraid of? How else do we deal with that, especially when you think about the umbrella as well? Are there different ways that we should be dealing with that or like any tips? I don’t know just throw a few things at me.

Dr. Monica Band  09:42

Certainly never put yourself in an unsafe situation. So when someone is feeling anger towards you, they have a history of violence or perhaps you feel that their anger leads to a lot of impulsive behaviors. I would prefer or encourage even someone removing themselves from that situation. In order for that person to have their own time to calm and center themselves, rather than make it their own responsibility to have to do that for someone. So, with that aside, I think there are things that we can do with anger when we are on the receiving end, but I think that has a lot to do with your goal or outcome, if it’s a person you love and care about who happens to be upset about something, and they’re displacing that anger and taking it out on you. Hopefully, that relationship is secure enough that provides perspective later on. But what I’ll tell you about anger is that when our nervous system begins to react, there is no logical thinking, especially when anger is fully taken over. So in that instance, that calm down period, or taking a break is a really healthy alternative. Whether that’s away from someone or helping someone calm down with breath, work, or walk, even a lot of people will take a walk, you’ve may have heard the term like walking off, yes, walk it off, right? That has scientifically shown to help, right? Calm the body and help with shifting that anger into something more approachable, something underneath it, like fear or loss or sadness. So let’s assume the person that is angry toward you is in a calmer state to have a conversation. Of course, there are boundaries that want to be set around what is appropriate and acceptable and respectful ways to engage with that person. The next is that if this is a person that you really want to better understand where this is coming from, and why that is, go back to what we were talking about with that fear that loss and that sadness, it’s more likely than not that that anger got triggered because there are fears this person has there’s a sense of loss, perhaps it’s of control, or perhaps it’s something more tangible, or there’s some sadness that’s overlaying that, if I can, there’s one thing that we hadn’t mentioned yet, we’re talking about expressive or outward anger. But there’s often times when we’re frustrated, internalize that anger, and we just get further upset at herself. I think about Seth, right? Seth certainly had moments of that, that he had admitted and that him and his mom Jeanne worked through about violence, and outbursts. What you also heard in that dialogue was a lot of anger towards himself. How self hatred for acting certain ways for hurting people he loves and cares about even though it goes against his values. Now, that kind of anger is hard, but not impossible to work through. But now you’re fighting yourself, not someone else. And some of that comes with therapy, or self compassion work, and a shift in valuing yourself enough to feel worth it enough to make some peace with.

Chrystal Genesis  12:59

Yeah, and it’s so fascinating hearing you say this as well, because it’s scary, right? And it’s like worrying to think that we have this emotion that like, just happens to us like, oh, we can’t necessarily control it. Is it something that you can control? Or is it just something that you need to be able to learn to recognize it before you get cross? Or I’m just trying to like, work that out? Because it seems really, really tricky. How do we try and prevent getting there when it feels so instinctual? Maybe.

Dr. Monica Band  13:34

I mean, I think you’re right, because that fight flight freeze fawn response that we’re so used to hearing about that fight is evolutionarily helpful. And so you’re not wrong there. There is an impulsive, automatic nature to anger. But this is where we talk about the difference between sort of productive emotions or helpful emotions, and ones that may at one point in time would have helped or were helpful, but they’ve kind of met their expiration date, and they aren’t helpful in these particular settings, and in fact, do more harm. I don’t believe that any emotion is a bad emotion. What I do think, though, is that with anger, and all emotions, they’re trying to tell us something about that relationship, that present moment, what we want to need. And so to your point, the more we’re able to identify how anger feels in our bodies, the precursors to what it feels like kind of ramping up to baby past frustration, on to anger onto rage, the more we’re able to recognize that progression, the better we are and equipped of understanding what we need in those moments listening to our body and our mind about that.

Chrystal Genesis  14:50

Brilliant. And so essentially, we’re going to offer angry at some point in our lives. So to use your words earlier, how do we work work with anger?

Dr. Monica Band  15:01

I think the short answer is listen to it tried to make meaning of the signals before we get to a point where we become too overwhelmed or unproductive with ourselves or other people learn that there are other options in how we communicate our needs and our wants. Anger is one way to do it right. And maybe we you grew up in a household where anger was the acceptable way of being heard. Or perhaps we are averse to anger because of that very thing. It could go either way. But there are so many other ways to communicate our needs. Anger wants to be heard oftentimes, because it feels as if no one’s listening. And so if we are able to be approach ourselves and our inner monologue, more gentle and kind, and approach ourselves in a way where we can acknowledge, I hear you, I understand that something’s happening right now. We might be scared, what are we scared of, and begin to do sort of a mental checklist in your mind, that might be able to help not only calm your body, but also help calm your mind. Because a lot of folks who get to that point of anger can also feel scared of themselves or what they’re capable of. So as I said, finding some calm in your body, perhaps through some breathwork movement, taking a walk, separating yourself from an environment that feels agitating or stressful, if you can, or finding some safety in the way that you talk to yourself, listening to what you might be fearful of what you are worried about losing maybe ways to deconstruct anger in your mind to better understand what’s going on. And perhaps it’s finding safety and a sounding board in people around you if there is a safe person or even a therapist that can help you understand some of these impulses.

Chrystal Genesis  16:58

Great. Thank you so much. This is so interesting, and I love again that you said how do we work with it? Because it’s a relationship, isn’t it? It makes me think, how do I or you or someone else someone listening? How do you learn to understand your relationship and response to anger?

Dr. Monica Band  17:17

I love that I love that you said relationship because they are the relationships with anger. And sometimes we learn from how we witnessed our parents or caregivers or just generally our community react and respond to certain emotions. And we take notes and say, Oh, anger is not acceptable or anger is the only acceptable way.

Chrystal Genesis  17:40

Thank you so much. Dr. Monica. So lovely to join you. Thank you.

Dr. Monica Band  17:45

Thanks, Chrystal. So yeah.

CREDITS  17:48

There’s more I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content. There’s so many things we talk about and we’re barely scratching the surface. Tune in to learn more about what it means to be a perfectionist, to be conflict avoidant. And how to ask for help. I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING is a Lemonada Media original. I’m Dr. Monica Band, the host of this show and a consultant with the Jed foundation. Crystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and Original Music by Bobby Woody, additional mixing by Ivan Kuraev. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson and the members of our youth focus group. Maria Perry, […] Erica Familia, Kofi Green and Cloud Ben. Jackie Danziger is our VP of narrative content. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This show was created in partnership with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. This series is presented by HOPE Lab with, Stupski Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Visit I or use the link in the show notes for resources related to today’s episode. Follow I need to ask you something wherever you get your podcasts or listen at free on Amazon music with your Prime membership


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