It was 2 am and I was lying there, staring at the ceiling. Thoughts were racing a mile a minute in my head. And my whole body was reacting with a tornado of emotions.
Frustrated, ashamed, angry, defeated. My brain was cycling through doomsday predictions: “I’m not going to make it in business.” “How can I do what I need to do if I don’t have physical energy anymore to do anything?” “I have a big problem.”
The truth is, I’d been thinking and feeling like this for months.
Quietly noticing in the back of my head that I was worried. I was having a pretty big energy crash and living behind a fog. It felt like I had all the answers right in front of me, but I couldn’t reach them because some unknown entity stood in the way. All I wanted was some clarity on what to do. And I was standing in my way.
And acknowledging that really hurt.
So, at that moment, at 2 am, I quietly let myself have a temper tantrum. I allowed myself to think all the ugly thoughts without minimizing them. I felt all the gross feelings of shame, embarrassment, and fear. I watched myself let all the frustration play out. Until my brain had nothing left unsaid and it went quiet.
After that I knew what I needed to do about my problem.
Instant clarity is a beautiful thing. I immediately developed a plan. I knew who to reach out to, what to ask, where to go for help. It was all right there, clear as day (even though it was still the wee hours of the morning). And then I went to sleep.
That was my most recent temper tantrum.
I’d been feeling low energy, depressed, anxious, foggy, forgetful, blocked, and ashamed for months. And I needed clarity on what to do about this problem. A tantrum did the trick.
I instinctively discovered the art of tantrums in my early 20’s and I used them whenever I felt like I needed to get out of my own way. Any big decision, new challenge, or when I felt like what I was doing wasn’t working in my wellness (but just didn’t know what I should do), I would go through this process.
Tantrums let me quiet the cacophony of critical thoughts and find what my inner guidance was saying.
It took me a bit to know exactly what I was doing and just how powerful a tool it really was. But once I realized how to harness it, I advocated temper tantrums to my clients as a way to find deep clarity.
The challenge is to give up all resistance.
Often, when we’re concerned about something, we push away the “bad” thoughts and “negative” feelings for fear that they’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We feel like we can’t entertain any negativity if we want to find a solution. On some of the bigger tantrums (like one I had about my multiple sclerosis), I’ve put it off for months because I was so afraid to even admit how dark my thoughts were about a certain issue.
But resisting that part of you only makes it harder for your whole brain to find clarity.
Tantrums allow you to listen to thoughts you’ve been deflecting and feel emotions you’ve been pushing away. It’s through embracing even the ugly parts that you’re able to stop the resistance to your problem and find a solution.
It’s like ripping off the band-aid and looking at the wounded parts of you that you’ve been afraid to acknowledge are there. And then realizing exactly what needs to be done to heal them.
Tantrums don’t involve anyone but you.
The biggest misconception is that, if you acknowledge all those thoughts and feelings you’ve been pushing away then that means you have to quit the job, get the divorce, confront someone and tell them how you really feel.
But tantrums are all about you – and the second you bring in someone else it becomes about them. What you want to say to them, how you want them to feel and react, what you think someone else has done to you.
The art of a tantrum is to not take any action at all while you’re having one. It’s not about other people, it’s not about taking action—it’s purely about you, clearing the noise and accessing the authentic and wise parts.
The most loving thing you can do is hold your own attention, without deflecting it away.
Tantrums don’t have to be pretty.
They’re for you. No one else. I’ve had tantrums with the ugly cry. I’ve had quiet tantrums where I just let my head rage and held on for the ride. Do it when you’re alone, (or when your partner is sound asleep next to you) and you don’t care what you look like.
You need to go all in to find the ultimate clarity afterwards. If someone is there, you may hold back.
Tantrums are the ultimate release.
Imagine you’ve just gone grocery shopping, and you only want to make one trip into the house with all the bags. So you load up and do the quick walk inside.
The bags are heavy, the handles may be cutting into your fingers and arms, you’re probably walking funny. It’s not comfortable. Then you power lift everything up to the counter and dump all the bags down at once. Ahh. Instant relief.
That’s how a tantrum feels. You’re carrying a ton of baggage and you do an emotional power lift and then let yourself finally put it down — all of it — and it’s instantly done.
Tantrums are one of the highest forms of self-care.
Self-care isn’t just for the pretty parts. It’s not just for the familiar parts that need rest and stress release. It’s for all parts of you. Especially the ones you want to push away.
When you have a tantrum, you’re allowing your whole self to be seen by you. Even the ugly bits. Even the parts that think the worst. You’re giving all of it a platform to speak it’s truth – and you’re listening while it airs it’s grievances.
True tantrums are an art form.
It’s a tantrum instead of just releasing a belief because you’re letting all that you’ve been holding back come forward. You’re releasing the big emotions and scary thoughts you’ve been pushing against. It’s allowing the dam to break instead of looking at it piece by piece.
This is not for the faint of heart. It’s a beautiful practice of self-trust; knowing that you are, in fact, strong enough to rip the band-aid off and look at the thoughts and emotions you’ve been avoiding about a certain subject. And it’s an act of pure love for yourself —for all of yourself, even the messy bits.
Which, in my opinion, are the parts that need love the most.