Updated: Mar 8, 2021
A flat tire. A disagreement with a friend. The kids are taking too long to get ready. Your boss dumps yet another project on your desk. A last-minute cancellation. The wrong order at the drive-thru (the one you don’t know is wrong until you’ve driven away).
Freak outs can be initiated by just about anything. But whatever it is, it usually isn’t about that thing.
We've all witnessed a child’s tantrum. If you're a parent, you know it's probably because the child is overtired or hungry. They're cranky and just about anything can and will set them off.
We are grown up children and it's perfectly normal to occasionally lose control of our emotions when life seems stacked up against us.
We're overwhelmed. We stockpile our stress and push ourselves to the point of exhaustion. We don't make time to be emotional or express ourselves honestly in the moment. Instead, we let our emotions build up inside of us, eventually reaching our breaking point and exploding.
Picture the game Jenga. It's just like that. You build up this high tower while simultaneously weakening the structure below it. The entire thing comes crashing down when you pull one of the blocks the wrong way. You’re so focused on making it to the top, maintaining stability and structure becomes secondary.
We fall apart when we’re emotionally unstable, stretched too thin and one last event in our life goes sideways.
How to Deal
The harsh reality is life doesn’t slow down and wait for you. Big and small, there will always be bumps along the way and forks in the road that will challenge you. That’s how life works, and it doesn’t always work in your favour.
But, there’s ways to deal and get through it, aside from throwing a public temper tantrum.
1. Give in to your emotions
You have to let go. Bad vibes, negativity, troubled emotions - get rid of it all. Keeping your emotions bottled up is not a good idea. In fact, stuffing your feelings inside can seriously impact your health. A 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester suggested people who bottled up their emotions increased their chance of premature death from all causes by more than 30%, with their risk of being diagnosed with cancer increasing by 70%.
Why shorten your life when there are plenty of simple, and healthy, ways to release stress, tension, aggression or any other emotion?
Here's a few to try:
Put on some loud music and sweat it out at the gym
Stomp around the yard or the block
Join a kickboxing class or find something similar to a Tantrum Class
Scream into a pillow for 30 second intervals--or out loud
Call a good friend to vent
Write a journal entry or a letter to someone (which you don't have to send if you don't want to)
Physical tasks like yard or housework
Get mad, be sad. Feel whatever you want/need to feel as long as you can do it in a safe and responsible manner. You must let it all out, before you can feel better.
Remember that child with the temper tantrum? After kicking and screaming and letting their tears roll down their bright red cheeks, they stop. They've run out of energy and they've depleted themselves of being mad or sad. They're still tired, but they feel better. They’ve let it go. And you will too.
2. Give yourself permission
You are not the Energizer Bunny. Your battery will not last forever and you do not have to (and cannot) keep going forever. At some point, by choice or otherwise, you’ll need to stop and release the emotions causing stress. Expressing feelings like anger, sadness, or fear will help you find relief.
Once you give yourself permission to feel, you’ll feel lighter and more capable of jumping back in. We are emotional beings. When we don't take care of our emotions, we lose control of them and it leads to outbursts, temper tantrums and health issues.
Take care of yourself and allow yourself to feel and experience. Stop holding it all in and let it go.