Actress Mayim Bialik is copping to some very childish behavior: Throwing temper tantrums.
The Big Bang Theory star admitted as much on her lifestyle blog Grok Nation in a Friday post titled “Mayim’s Temper Tantrum,” writing, “I had a temper tantrum recently. And while I wish I could say this astounded me because I am a grown-up who should not have tantrums, it did not astound me. I am no stranger to tantrums.”
Bialik explained that she was “socially anxious” during childhood, a personality trait she still possesses. She was recently triggered at a party.
For one, Bialik says she didn’t dress appropriately. “When I am underdressed and other people are all fancy, I compare my insides (which feel less than and ugly and out of step) to other people’s outsides (which are trendy and fancy and perfect in my eyes),” she wrote. That, in turn, made Bialik fearful that “someone would see me looking so crappy and take my picture and tease me.”
Additionally, Bialik was experiencing judgment and jealousy. “Part of comparing myself to others leads to a defensive survival mechanism whereby I decide that everyone who is what I wish I was is materialistic, snooty, and lame,” she wrote. “It’s wrong, I know. And it’s not fair. But it’s where my head goes.”
And finally, a lack of affordable vegan meal options and the hot weather culminated in Bialik spilling salad on her clothes and slamming her plate down on the table. “But rage came over me and I let it take me,” she wrote. “It rose up in my chest and grabbed ahold of my heart. I had no shame. I should have had shame. Because I lost my sanity. No one took it from me. I gave it up.”
Bialik added, “And I feel such shame. Not just because I behaved poorly. And not just because after excusing myself to try and calm down I was unable to calm down and I slammed the ketchup bottle against the table, scaring my children yet again.”
Anger is a universal emotion, however, the social consequences tend to be harsher for women, says Sandra Thomas, PhD., a professor at the University of Tennesse, Knoxville and an expert in women’s anger. “Angry men typically don’t experience the same degree of shame as women and they don’t ruminate over how their anger affects other people,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “That’s due to traditional general role socialization or sexism.”
For example, Bialik wrote: “When my sons have experienced similar feelings, I have found a way to find compassion for them. But sometimes I don’t know what to do. Just like I didn’t know what to do for myself.”
There are upsides to feeling anger: “It can be a useful tool when people are being treated unjustly or with disrespect,” says Thomas. “If someone is trampling on your rights, then it’s important to assertively speak up — however, that’s different than having a temper tantrum.”
In Bialik’s case, self-deprecating thoughts were driving her outburst — what Thomas calls irrational anger — and she would have benefitted from a cooling down period, especially because her sons were present. “In social situations, it’s not good to be that self-focused,” she says.
To Bialik’s credit, she later apologized to her children and vowed to be more self-aware. “I apologized for being me, in a sense,” she wrote. “But I also vowed to do better. By being more realistic about my limitations. Because sometimes that’s what I need to be.”
She continued, “…So no more hiding. Rage is real. It is not always something I can breathe through. It is a dragon inside of me. I can not banish this dragon I fear, but I can be more in control of the things that activate her.”
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