We are all experts on judging other people’s “overreactions.” Are you as tuned in to yours?
Hypothetically, let’s say at times you overreact...in what area does it tend to happen?? If you’re really not sure, ask a loved one what they avoid bringing up with you…(warning, you might not like what you find out!)
I’ll go first -- Do not slow me down or you are probably going to get snapped at. Ask Jennifer (but in my opinion, she’s overreacting!) This also applies to customer service representatives and car service repair people and ummm, everyone. I have made a lot of progress in this area (which is really saying something about how I used to be), but if someone is thwarting me from effectively completing a task, I need to be VERY aware that I don’t yell (or make annoyed faces).
It’s funny to go over these stories and laugh at ourselves (hopefully). But, is there a deeper value in noticing these sensitivities in ourselves? Surprise, surprise we at Workability think there is tremendous value in noticing where your reaction does not match the size of the stimulus.
It is certainly not reasonable for me to jump over the bank teller’s desk and fill out all my new account forms for them. But...It would be more efficient (I have issues).
Why do I feel like I’m losing my mind as the bank teller mistakenly enters the account number for the social security number, gets an error message and has to call over a manager for help? If you’re like me, you're thinking...uhhh because you’re RATIONAL!? But seriously (this post is not about fixing the woes of bank visits).
Part of my definition of myself is someone who makes things better. And, for me, efficiency makes things better. So when things are not moving along efficiently, in my mind, I’m not making things better. The trick here is to understand my anger. Because noticing that I like to make things better should technically enhance my experience of the situation, right? BUT IT DOESN’T! The anger is coming from the thought that I can’t intercede. I’m at a bank. There are protocols that prevent me from, say, jumping the counter...very good protocols!
The anger is a historical anger. The anger doesn’t understand protocols at a bank. It is simply understanding that once again, I have the solution and I won’t be allowed to help. And it is this historical belief of mine that is causing me to react to the poor bank teller with impatience and frustration.
In my mind it would sound completely rational to scream “I just want to help!” at the bank teller. Clearly, an OVER reaction to the situation. But in my internal world, it makes complete sense. Once again I am being prevented from contributing when there’s a problem that I absolutely have a solution for.
This is the lesson that overreactions have for us. They point us to what is unresolved in our past. You can’t overcome and work through what you don’t know is there. Pay attention to your overreactions and see what you can learn about yourself.
It will be of great benefit to you, while looking more closely at your overreactions, to have a definition of who you really are. For those of you who just participated in The Hidden Gift of Self-Doubt, this is where your Definition of Who You Really Are can be so useful; it can give you the guidance to connect to your essence. This can be invaluable when you are working to recenter yourself in the midst of an overreaction.
For example, when I remember that I am someone who thrives when I can help, my agitation at the bank teller diminishes. Because I start to see the situation for what it is. The bank is not stopping me from helping; there are just some protocols that don’t allow me to be as helpful as I want to be and as quickly. And that’s okay. I can accept that. And, I can wait patiently and even make some jokes and bring some cheer to the teller. When I accept that the way I urgently want to help is unworkable, I can start to look from other perspectives, rather than try to force my way onto the situation.
See what you notice this week as you pay more attention to your reactions. What do you overreact to? And, what does it potentially point to in your past that might need more attention?