I admit it! I’m an Over-reactor. Sometimes I take things personally. Sometimes I let my feelings determine my state of mind. I allow myself to believe that whatever just happened is erroneous, incorrect, offensive, or otherwise REALLY BIG DEAL!
Sometimes I experience positive overreaction. I make people, places, and things outside myself bigger and better than myself.
I think this was the “BEST DAY EVER!!!!! Nothing will ever top this!” and inevitably this sets me up for failure and disappointment.
The problem with overreacting is I let go of mindfulness, balance and even happiness every time I react instead of responding to life. My emotional reaction looms larger-than-life and I temporarily loose sight of my purpose and intentions. I get swept up in the moment and neglect what’s important to me- living a great life every day not just when “stuff” happens.
Life has been a great learning experience and along the way I’ve learned some great tools to refocus my attention on what matters to me when I find myself overreacting.
Notice how you feel
When I am reacting, instead of responding, I am usually experiencing intense emotional and physical sensations. The muscles in my neck and shoulders tense or I experience an empty feeling in my stomach. I feel stressed, anxious, angry, or scared. Even my positive overreaction can cause a loss of appetite or feelings of anxiety.
I don’t have to believe everything I feel. Feelings are data I can use to inform my experience but I don’t have to make my emotions my truth.
Usually when I am overreacting I perceive that I am a victim to the experience. I allow myself to believe I am at the mercy of others. This is only true when I choose to give up my power to another person or experience.
Instead, I can choose to empower myself. I can take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and behavior. I’m not helpless and I always have a choice about what to do next.
Take care of yourself
Caught up in the moment, I might forget to breathe deeply, stay hydrated, eat when I’m hungry, and get a good night’s sleep. I let my reaction to the situation grow bigger and bigger as I turn it over in my mind and I forget to take care of my basic needs.
When I’m Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired it’s a sign to HALT and take care of me.
Put it in perspective
When I’m overreacting, my reaction is disproportionate to the problem at hand. I am far more likely to escalate a conflict when I exaggerate the situation.
Instead I can ask myself, “how important is it?” Will this experience drastically change my life? Will I remember this next month? How about next year? Most of the time I’m feeling stress over something, or someone, that really isn’t important to my purpose and intentions. I can also ask myself, “is this worth giving up my serenity?”
Check your expectations
I’ve heard it said that expectations are premeditated resentments. I often have expectations of people and situations based on what I want to happen, not what is likely to happen or even what I have prepared for. My expectations often don’t take into consideration what other people want or how they will be affected.
When I assess my expectations I often find my expectations are self-centered desires for life work out the way I wanted. When I recognize this, I find it easier to consider other considerations and a different outcome.
Let it go
When overreacting to life I hold on to my reaction as if my life depends on it. I allow the experience of a single moment to be bigger than my entire life experience.
I can choose to let it go. It’s not always easy, and sometimes I let it go and pick it up again- that’s okay, I can let it go over and over as many times as I need.
Managing my overreactions helps me live a balanced, peaceful, and satisfying life. I stop bouncing from high to low and back to high again.
When I respond instead of react I am able to respond with dignity and grace. I maintain a positive reputation and I enjoy life more.
I have learned I have limited control over life. No matter how hard I try, I can’t control the outcome; I can only control my input. I decide what I give in life, and what I do with what I’m given.
I love your comments! What other ways to do stop overreacting to life?
Image courtesy of lednichenkoolga.