When Life Gets In The Way

You know how it is, one day you’re bimbling along quite merrily, and the next Life comes up to bite you on the Bum with teeth that are unfairly oversized.

It happens to all of us, and I’m pretty sure that all of us, without exception, feel like turning into a 2 year old and wailing “IT’S NOT FAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and having a tantrum until someone gives us a big cuddle and some chocolate buttons, and makes it all better with one of those special magic kisses.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a while since anyone did that for me…

And, it has to be said, it’s been a while since I did the whole tantrummy thing too – if I were to throw myself on the floor kicking and screaming these days it would take me so long to get back up again I might just decide to stay down there!

But it does seem to me that there are people who give in to the tantrumming, and people who manage to rise above it, and if you’re someone who still tantrums then here’s some stuff you need to know.

1. Life’s not fair. Get over it.

2. A toddler having a tantrum is wearying, grating, frustrating but understandable. An adult having a tantrum is unhelpful.

3. Unhelpful is coach speak for the kind of nauseating behaviour that makes my slapping-hand itch.

Here’s the thing – I bet even Mother Theresa, even Gandhi, even the most laid-back, peace-loving, beatific, saintly, shining, lovable person on Earth sometimes felt/feels like throwing their teddies out of the pram and drumming their fists on the floor at the sheer random frustrating-ness of it all.

Next time you meet someone like that, ask them if that’s the case – if they’re honest with you they’ll admit that there is, sometimes, a temptation to shriek about the unfairness of it all.

But they don’t give in to it, and do you know why?


That’s not strictly true, actually. It does make some difference.

It usually makes things a whole lot worse.

A tantrumming toddler needs to be soothed and cuddled until they calm down because they are trying out new feelings that they don’t know what to do with. They are at the mercy of their own extremes and, tiring and frustrating though they might be, it’s really not their fault. It’s their age. It’s just a phase.

The same is not true of the 50-year old businessman who’s having a tantrum at the book-in desk because he’s arrived late and missed the boarding call for his flight.

All his tantrum does is antagonise the airline staff, making it less likely that they’ll want to help him out and make everyone around think he’s a complete pratt. The more he sees people not doing what he wants, the more wound up he will get and so the downward spiral will continue.

Anyone used to dealing with the public en masse will be able to tell you that they are used to being blamed for things that are actually the customer’s fault but for which the customer doesn’t want to take responsibility. The Adult Tantrum seems to stem from this desire not to be at fault.

And here’s what those saintly people who don’t give in to tantrums know:

  • they are responsible for their own actions and behaviours
  • life’s not fair – and they’ve got over it
  • getting stroppy when things go wrong just makes things worse
  • believing that everyone around you is sincerely trying to do their best is like pouring oil on troubled waters
  • respect goes a long, long way – that’s respect for others and self-respect

So next time Life comes along and bites you on the Bum with its unfeasibly large teeth, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself:

  • how much responsibility do I bear for this situation? (no cheating!)
  • what’s going to be the most helpful way for me to respond?
  • where can I buy myself some chocolate buttons?

If you’d like to talk to me about how I can help you with this or any other issue you’ve read about here, please contact me:

by phone on +44 (0)7742 057 504

via skype on cathy.dean4

by email at cathy@colourinyourthinking.co.uk

2 responses to “When Life Gets In The Way

  1. I needed to read this today. Admittedly, my inner toddler is now screaming about the fact that she’s not allowed to have a tantrum when Life has been So Horrible and It’s Just Not Fair, but we’ll get over it. She’s big enough to wear big girl panties instead of nappies, so she’s big enough to bunny up* and act like an adult.

    *bunny up = gender-neutral term for “man up” amongst my friends. Origins are lost in the mists of “It’s Valentine’s Day and we’re all single so let’s have a party”…

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