Everyone has a “moment” now and then – we raise our voices, or respond to someone or something more angrily than we’d like. It happens to just about all of us from time to time.
But if you find that more often than not, your response to situations is over the top, and friends are frequently telling you that you’re overreacting, maybe it’s time to take a look at your outlook on life and see if you need to make a change. Sometimes, overreacting can even indicate a mental or emotional problem, such as bipolar disorder or depression.
Here are some tips and suggestions to see if you overreact, and what you can do about it.
Are You Overreacting?
1. You are consumed with self-negating thoughts
If a stressful situation arises and you are filled with thoughts of self-blame and anger toward yourself, it may a sign of overreacting. Examples of these self-berating thoughts may sound like:
“I’m so stupid!”
“Why can’t I ever handle things like this?”
“I’m such an awful person.”
“I am one messed up individual. It’s hopeless.”
The fact is, you’re just human; give yourself some compassion and forgiveness and move forward with a plan to do better next time.
2. Feeling out of control
Overreacting can become a problem if you feel completely out of control. You may hate the way you’re responding to a person or situation, but you can’t seem to stop yourself. It’s as if the angry reaction takes over. This is a sign that something may be wrong.
3. Panicky feelings
Do you feel panicky and helpless when you are reacting to something difficult? If your overreactions are indicative of a problem, then you may feel desperate to avoid yet another scenario that you know is going to play out like the ones before it.
What can you do about it?
Naturally, people who have this issue want to overcome it. Here are some tips:
Just stop. Take a moment and breathe, remove yourself from the situation for a few moments, and look at things from a third-person point of view. Walk away if you need to and say something simple such as, “I need to think about this.”
How does your body feel? Tense? Hot? Are you sweating? Is your heart racing? This means you’re reacting strongly – perhaps too strongly – to what’s going on.
3. Cool off
Let your emotions subside a bit. Let it go; think about the big picture. Remember how destructive it is to have an angry confrontation or raise your voice. Your body will literally cool off, and your blood pressure will probably go down.
4. Take action
By all means, if you feel like you need help, get it. Therapy and counseling can be very beneficial. There is no shame in reaching out for assistance.