Triggers, Tears & Tantrums – 3 Warning Signs of Burnout…The Body Never Lies

by | Emotional Burnout

No question our world today seems to be careening out of control. Some would say bad behavior has become the norm. And maybe there’s some truth there. But what I see is a culture crying out in need. 

Our bodies can handle a great deal of stress, but there’s a limit. And when we max out our stress limits, our body releases warning signs of burnout. As if to say, Enough already! 

Warning Signs of Burnout

Like a few weeks ago, I was about to check out at our local Kroger. When suddenly, this customer just loses it! He was in the front of the store hoisting up a case of water when a Kroger employee from the self-checkout area tapped his shoulder, asking to see his receipt. And that’s all it took, BOOM!!! Screaming, cursing, and making scary threats, the guy rages on and on. Everyone else stands frozen in fear. Except for this one other customer who decides to lose it too! BOOM!

A couple of days later, I was cruising down the North Dallas Tollway when low and behold, my Honda CRV chose to lose it too! All these alerts abruptly appear on my dashboard…brake system failure…vehicle stability failure…collision warning. I think to myself, What the heck?! Collision warning?! It’s a little alarming when you’re flying down the road at 75 mph. What’s going on?!

Safely back home, after some research, I discovered my sophisticated SUV was trying to warn me the battery was dying. At first glance, I thought my vehicle was misbehaving. But with closer inspection, it turns out she was in need. Crying out, Enough already! I can’t keep going like this.

The same is true for you and me. Our bodies perceive things before our minds pick up on the signals. By God’s brilliant design, our sophisticated bodies emit warning signs of burnout, hoping we will listen up.

Okay, my friend, don’t check out on me. Clicking on this content and reading to this point sets you apart from the pack! Keep reading, and as you do, give the following three warning signs of burnout some serious consideration. Do any of these resonate with you?


Triggers are tricky to understand because just about anything can morph into a trigger given an intense enough association. Like a person, a particular location, a smell, sound, or sensation, or a specific situation that evokes an intense, usually unexpected emotional response. 

The other tricky bit about triggers is how intimately unique they are…formed from an individual’s personal experience. Experiences you survived, but the trauma left breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs so that one day, you can finally find your way back to heal what was left unattended.

Triggers are clues to what you learned to shut down, disassociated from trying to forget. If triggers could speak, they’d say, Stop! Listen to me. I’m trying to get your attention. I’m trying to help you.


Tears release stress from our bodies. They are beautiful messengers conveying the weight of what you’re carrying inside. As if to say, Help, this is too heavy. 

Tears are often the intense, usually unexpected emotional response to a trigger. You’re moving through your day when, out of the blue, tears flood your eyes. And you think, Wow, what just happened?! Why am I crying? 

I believe out-of-the-blue tears are actually just that…expressions of the blues you’re experiencing internally. Indications of the emotional burnout you’re experiencing inside your body.

The scriptures tell us God stores your tears in golden vessels. I don’t know if we’re to take this literally or not. But goodness, do I love the visual and the tenderness and empathy God has for our humanity.


Our world is raw and angry. Sociologists are calling our time the Age of Rage. We see the evidence everywhere we turn. But I don’t think it’s as much anger as sadness. Accumulated sadness and loss.

Sure, the external behavior looks and sounds like anger. But underneath the anger, there’s a sadness that’s been silenced. Unaddressed wounds. Loss never processed. For so many, it’s easier to rage than to feel the silenced internal pain.

I use the word, tantrum not as a slight to anyone but to communicate the nature of the intense, usually unexpected emotional response. Meaning the angst of the soul reaches a tipping point, and your body cries out in the form of anger.

Emotional Burnout

On the external surface, we see warning signs of burnout being expressed through triggers, tears, and tantrums. But underneath the behavior, I believe God sees a person in need.

Tragically, too many believe God sees their behavior as who they are. Like God identifies us by our behavior. In turn, because we believe this lie, we have the tendency to do so as well. We identify ourselves by our behavior. And we identify others by their behavior.

But I’m just not buying it about God. I believe God sees our behavior as clues to our internal needs. Furthermore, God brilliantly designed our bodies to emit warning signs of burnout. Our inner world begging to be understood. Clues to what needs to be healed and addressed.

Triggers, tears, and tantrums? Could it be God sees you as a beloved child in pain? A child with unmet needs? Pain and needs only God can heal and meet?

First Step? Awareness

In my late thirties, my body expressed all the warning signs of burnout. Triggers? Check. Tears? Oh, yes. Tantrums? For crying out loud, yes.

And you know what? That’s just it! For crying out loud. All the internal trauma, pain, and loss. My body was crying out loud. But I just kept steamrolling ahead until I finally crashed and burned.

And maybe that’s what will need to happen with you too. I don’t know. But dear Buttercup, I write these words to incite your awareness today! I write these words to urge you (and myself) not to fight against the warning signs of burnout but to allow them to awaken you to the wooing of God to address and heal your internal pain, wounds, and trauma.

You’re not a machine, my friend. Yes, you can handle a great deal of internal stress, but there’s a limit. By God’s perfect design, your body never lies. Triggers, tears, tantrums? What’s your body trying to tell you? Don’t fight against the warning signs of burnout. Allow them to awaken you to the wooing of God to address and heal your internal pain, loss, wounds, and trauma.

You’re Not Alone

Dear Jesus, if my friend has read this far, thank you. Thank you for drawing them to these words. Now, move them from the intellectual exercise of taking in information and into processing the information with You. Rescue them from the arrogance of believing they’re immune to burnout. I believe you are drawing them into a deeper relationship with you. Thank you for our limitations. For we might never seek you without them. Thank you, Jesus, for seeing beneath the behavior to the unmet needs inside my friend. Needs only You can meet. Pain only you can heal. In your care, may they find all their heart is crying out loud for. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

I’m listening. And would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions.

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Thanks for stopping by! Until we meet again, remember – Trusting in Jesus, you’ll have more treasure than pockets. From my heart to yours,

Sandra Adcock Signature