All grown up with the emotions of a toddler

By Matt Perryman

My twin girls are up to no good at school, as I hear it told.

I don’t know that the two of them are causing the trouble. What I hear is that one of their closest friends is engaged in a battle to the death with a new girl who is trying to usurp her throne as Queen of the Friend Group.

The rest of them are caught up in the gravitational pull.

That’s as perennial a law as anything you’ll find in physics. Drama, like the irresistible force of a black hole, is universal and undeniable.

Since these are nine year old girls, you can give them a pass on it. Kids stuff is what kids do. It’s right there in the name. We don’t hold them to adult standards of behavior because they aren’t adults. They haven’t finished maturing, so we don’t expect maturity from them.

More and more I wonder if we hold adults, who have finished maturing, to adult standards of behavior.

It sure doesn’t seem like it these days. Week after week, I see biological adults acting like emotionally stunted toddlers. Nine year old drama looks sophisticated next to these grown babies.

It’s disconcerting when it happens to people that you know. I’ve been burned more than once by people who I thought were friends turning into unhinged psychos at the mildest provocation — usually taken all out of context.

I don’t know about you, but my time is far too valuable to walk on eggshells, watching every choice, thought, word, and action in the hopes that I don’t send an unstable lunatic flying off the handle.

If somebody is going to act like that, I don’t want them in my life. Go have your tantrum somewhere else.

Grow up while you’re at it. (For all that advice will register with a typically clueless self-righteous individual already over age 35.)

This rant does lead us to a question, though.

How do you react to things you don’t like?

When I was younger, I’d let the anger rule me. Anger is a powerful emotion, the psychological equivalent of caffeine. Maybe cocaine.

Like artificial stimulants, anger gives you a brief window of elevated capacities.

Like artificial stimulants, you pay for it big-time once the high wears off.

Anger feels good, and it is powerful, which is why it is too easy to let the anger take control. We’re naturally susceptible to negative feelings. Besides anger, fear and sadness are major players. Knowing this, the rulers of our civilization organize much of daily experience to provoke these emotions in us.

Too many people live by negative feelings caused in them by outside forces. The negativity is so powerful, almost a narcotic, that it shuts off reason. Nobody makes good judgments while mad, afraid, or sad.

Anger in itself can be good or evil, as anger can be a rational response. Feeling angry isn’t a problem. Feeling anger in response to an inappropriate cause, or allowing anger to drive out good judgment, is the deadly sin of Wrath.

We all know people like this. Maybe that’s you.

I’ve seen people lose jobs, marriages, business opportunities, and long-standing friendships from wrath.

It’s never worth it.

But people right now aren’t in their right minds. There’s wrath all over the place. I don’t know why. I have my suspicions, and my suspicions include supernatural causes. That’s another topic.

What I want to stay with you is that there is a line between a healthy, mature response, and a sputtering emotional meltdown.

Humans aren’t always rational, but we are gifted with reason, and our emotions will listen to it.

We have the power to stand in between the stimulus and the knee-jerk response and say “this isn’t worth it”.

But you have to work at this. It’s not given to you for free. You have to choose it and act on it.

I recommend you do. Life is not easier for being stupid.

Matt Perryman 

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