Stop the Tantrums 

Definition:  Tantrum

Associated with those in emotional distress. Physical control may be lost and the person cannot stand still and may not be calmed or pacified. Expressed in angry speech.  A blow to inflated self-image.  Extreme anger and frustration.

Tantrums are thought of mostly in reference to toddlers.  Anyone who has lashed out at the end of a long day knows that teenagers and adults can throw tantrums. We call them disagreements. Or justified outrage, because he loaded the dishwasher wrong. Again.

One reason people throw tantrums is that they want to be heard, says Susan Orenstein, a psychologist in Cary, North Carolina, who focuses on marriage and relationships.

“They grow louder and more animated as a way to get attention and show you that this issue is important to them.

Why:  We tantrum because we are hurt or deeply frustrated.  OR over tired , hungry or agitated. Those of us who suffer from ‘Hangry’ – angry because you are hungry  – will understand.  All of my girls are like this.  The boys in my family all know to keep us fed or it will end up in tears.

No discussion ends well after 10pm.  When we are over tired we are unable to process with patience and grace goes out the window.   Wait until an appropriate time to discuss un-met expectations.

Wait 20 min….. it takes 20 min for the surging stress hormones to subside completely.  Tell the adult ‘I know that you are angry/frustrated right now, we need to talk about this but can we wait a few min to sit down and talk about what is causing you to feel like this?’

Deep Breath and count to 10.  ‘Deep breathing activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is essential for relaxation. “I always say to people, ‘If you really want to yell at him, you can do it later,’” says Psychologist Susan Orenstein.

These examples are part of everyday relating and are not that uncommon.  The other kind of tantrum is one that develops deep within you out of deep anger and hurt.  In this case it is helpful to get professional support.

This has happened a few times in my life when I have faced deeply distressing events.  In the illustration below, my anger was directed at God, ‘how could you let this happen’?  For about two years I was angry, cynical and toxic.

This is an entry in my journal.  I have written it from the context of God speaking back to me after I have already ranted and stormed for about 6 pages.

Stop the tantrums

Get it out on paper

Don’t let it rumble around in your head

You can’t hear me when you are full of crazy, angry, cranky, stomping thoughts.

Stop the tantrums

It’s happened

Kicking and spitting like and angry emu wont help

Empty your head and heart of toxic thoughts

Don’t give them room

Don’t let them feed on the pain

I can heal the pain

But not if you keep swatting me away


Therapy for adult temper tantrums is about providing a solid and unmoving rock on the shore upon which the raging sea must crash over and over till the storm runs its course and the sun comes out. This is easier for a therapist to do than a parent, spouse or friend (Dr J. Smith).

Successful outcomes mean containing the rage.  This is where you need to find a safe professional to help you navigate the anger, pain and loss.  It may be loss of dreams or hopes.  It may be the loss of a relationship or death of a close person in your life.  You may feel abandoned and let down by someone or God.  Anger develops from unmet expectations.  Most times we have no control over this and that adds to the perfect storm. We feel undervalued and exposed.

Anger is the primary protective emotion, designed to protect us from harm or from loss of something of value. The most physical of all emotions, anger sends action signals to the muscles and organs of the body to prepare us for one purpose and one purpose only: to neutralize or defeat the perceived threat. Steven Stosny, Ph.D

It is the most self-revealing of emotional states, pointing directly to a powerful cause of vulnerability: a sudden drop in core value (Dr Stosny).

Resentment, sarcasm, restlessness, impatience, irritability: are all symptoms of unresolved anger.  If you are operating out of a healthy core base you will be sympathetic, loving, patient and understanding.  If your core value is low you will react and respond like a jerk and you will constantly devalue others (even if it’s in your head).  This means that you need to fill up your value tank.  This is your job you can’t demand it of anyone else.   You need to decide what type of person you want to be.

A ‘drainer’ or an ’empowerer’.  Someone who is constantly negative and toxic or someone who is peaceful and a delight to be around.

If you are unhappy in your life right now it is no-ones fault but your own.  You have the power to change it and make a difference.  You may not be able to control circumstances and people but you can change yourself.  If you are demanding answers from everyone else or demanding change from others, alarm bells should be going off in your head.

True peace of mind comes from deep within yourself.  You cannot find it in or from anyone else.  This is the biggest lie.  You cannot make correct and healthy decisions for your life or for relationships if you are not healthy deep inside your inner self.

An angry person struggles to maintain negative emotions.  A peaceful person lives in contentment.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

You will never find peace until you first find it within yourself.

This deep inner work is your main role in life.  No-one can do it for you.  You will find guides along the way and resources to help you; you are not alone.  But you must stop the tantrums, take ownership of who you are and do something about it.

This is called growing up.


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Love Lisa

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