It helps to know it’s just a storm

Image: Medena Rosa

My daughter is teaching me so much about how the human psyche works…

First of all, as some of you know, she’s three. She’s the sweetest, most loving girl with a huge heart.

But sometimes she throw hellacious tantrums. 
Usually in public.

The perfect storm of anger and humiliation swirls into a screaming, urinating, rolling-around-on-the-floor fit of rage.

Being that she’s three, we’ve had some practice in this arena. Over the last couple years, we’ve tried most everything to make her stop in the moment. From bribes, to yelling, to talking calmly, to Santa Claus threats, and more.

But much to our chagrin, we’ve finally come to swallow the bitter pill of accepting that no matter how worked up we get, nothing stops her in the moment when it comes to these emotional flareups.

Except one thing, which we discovered accidentally through physically throwing our hands up and walking away to save our own sanity when she was doing her thing.

Yes, ignoring the tantrum (after making sure she’s in a safe, secure place, of course) is the very best option when the little lass turns demonic.

It’s fascinating how her emotions come on and build just like storms hitting the shoreline. Once the storm hits, the best thing we can do is hunker down behind shelter and let it pass. Then talk about it afterward when the winds die down.

Trying to stop the storm once it arrives is absolutely futile. Yelling and railing against the rain is, in our experience, as fruitless as doing the same to a toddler. All it does is add undue stress and anxiety to an already emotionally laborious event.

But as soon as it passes, just like the sun coming out from behind the clouds, her little tear-reddened blue eyes sparkle from behind her smile. And she’s an angel again. She tells us she loves us, gives ample kisses, and tells us how bad it is to get mad and say ‘potty words’.

And just like that, clarity has returned to a temporarily blustery mind.

This is not just a post about being a parent. This little insight can help anyone of any age deal with their own emotional blizzards.

Knowing strong emotions are just like storms allows us to hunker down and let them pass without excessive damage.

What if, during a howling rain storm, you didn’t realize that it’s just a storm. What if you didn’t have the insight that this thing will pass? What if you believed you had to make the storm stop? What would you feel when you realized that you couldn’t make the storm stop? How despairing would that be?

But what if you realized (like you do) that it’s just a storm? Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing personal. Just head down to the cellar, light a candle, fire up that kerosine heater, and read a book until it passes, right? No added stress than there already is. You might get a little wet and your fence might blow down, but other than that, you’ll be fine. And the sun will shine again.

This is how it works. We all seem to be uniquely predisposed to what sets off these emotional storms. For you, it might take the world falling apart. For me, it might just happen when someone puts cheese on my hamburger after I specifically told them, “No cheese, please.”

How’s the weather looking in your world?

Jonas Ellison is a spiritual writer, teacher, practitioner, and an interfaith minister-in-training. He helps people deepen their lives through applied spirituality while documenting his journey along the way.

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