You have just had a strong negative reaction to something someone has said or ‘done’ to you. You may have looked at the situation ‘logically’ but can’t figure out why your reaction is so strong. It plays on your mind and maybe you have difficulty sleeping. Any of this sound familiar?
Typical choices we make in these situations are :
1. Get annoyed with ourselves for having the feeling, which may make us more miserable than we are already or
2. Allow ourselves to be controlled by the feeling, maybe sucumbing to negative responses such as feelings of worthlessness, hurt, anger, getting even etc which only makes the situation worse and damages relationships or
3. Pretend to ourselves that it hasn’t happened, which drives the feeling under the carpet only to pop up again later in some other way (feelings we deny have a tendency to influence our behaviour in unpredictable ways, …. not a good idea) or
4. Feel stuck and helpless and in this way prolong the agony
So how might you move to a better place when your buttons are pressed? Try some of the following and see if any of them works for you :
– The more understanding you have of what is behind your reaction the more you can dilute it’s power over you. What message/insight does your reaction contain? Is there a lesson you need to learn or something you need to change? The chances are that you have similar reactions in other similar situations, so isn’t it time you figured out what is going on ? Is there some experience from your past that is being triggered ?
– ask yourself what you would say to a friend in a similar situation. This can help us to see things in perspective and the chances are that we are over reacting.Whats the worst that can happen and how would you cope?
– talk it through with a friend, another way to gain perspective. This can be a great release, particularly if the friend is a good listener.
– ask yourself to name the fear that is lurking beneath the surface.This may be some old pattern of thinking that is not helpful. This naming of the fear can be useful for exposing the negative feeling for the ‘fraud’ that it is. If you can then find the courage to face up to the fear the whole dynamic of what is going on will change and your sense of powerlessness will disappear
– write about it in your daily journal, if writing is something that you find helpful
– consciously calm your mind eg take a walk, meditate….whatever works for you
– remind yourself that the feeling will move on, that no feeling is forever
The point of the above coping mechanisms is to do something to restore your sense of composure as soon as possible. Perhaps more importantly, better understanding of what is behind your reactions will reduce the likelihood of similar situations in the future evoking similar reactions in you.