The word alone brings unpleasant colors and images to mind. Things I'd honestly rather not think about.
The word itself is neutral. A-n-g-e-r. Just five letters coming together to make a word. But it's the emotion we've charged this word with that gives it the ability to impact us. And that goes for every other word in existence, too.
A while back I did an experiment focused on anger. The results were so interesting that I couldn't help but share them with you. Here's how it went down:
I wanted to see what would happen if the next time I felt myself begin to get angry about something I could consciously choose to feel something different. Not as a distraction, but as a learning opportunity.
I picked two emotions to play with: curiosity and amusement.
And before long, the perfect opportunity for me to try my experiment presented itself.
I'd ordered a gift for a friend's birthday, and it was something I knew they would absolutely love. To ensure I'd be able to get the exact item I wanted to give them, I ordered well in advance of the date of the party. When the item arrived, it was broken. I was disappointed, but I had enough time to return it and order another one.
The next day I emailed their customer service department. I got a quick reply, but it wasn't quite what I expected. The agent's curt reply basically said they'd authorize a return, inspect it, and then decide if they'd replace it or not. Well, that was not going to put the gift I'd originally purchased in my hands and ready to give to my dear friend in time for her party. And this was odd coming from a company that prides itself on outstanding customer service.
That's when I could feel the beginnings of anger coming on. In that moment (and this key), I put everything in my mind on pause. I then asked myself if I'd like to experiment with looking at this through the lens of curiosity or amusement. I chose curiosity.
After choosing curiosity, I immediately began to wonder what challenges the customer service agent might be experiencing. Maybe they've been understaffed at the company and this agent is so overloaded with work that they haven't been able to spend as much time with their kids as they'd like.