Picture a dog led by its master with a leash; he sees a cat and begins barking savagely, pulling its master behind it as it chases the cat relentlessly. That is exactly how an emotionally reactive person is! When they see something they don’t like, their immediate reaction is of “barking,” “biting” and “tearing to sheds.”
Emotionally reactive people can be found everywhere- in traffic, shopping centres, social networking sites, roads, political rallies, and neighbourhood. Whenever there is a traffic jam, delay, miscommunication, mistakes or controversies, these are the people who react first.
To some extent, we all are slaves to our emotions. Becoming a master of your emotional triggers is a long and difficult journey. It requires a lot of strength and effort to stop and pull back whenever you are tempted to overreact at a situation.
Assumption usually mars us. When we assume something on our own, we react to it without knowing the truth. Like when we yell at a person for stopping in the middle of the road creating a jam, we assume that they don’t know how to drive and start yelling at them. The truth could be that their car broke down.
It is easy to become angry, resentful, offended, sad, and distressed in such situations. Why don’t we do something about it? Here are some tips which will help you set yourself free from the clutches of anger and be less reactive.
Assess the Situation
We often make conclusion without knowing very little of the person or the situation we are angry at. Ask yourself “What do I really know about this person? What do I think they're aiming to do?” When we don’t know them, how can we just predict what’s in their innermost mind? We can’t. So, take a beat and assess the situation before reacting in the moment.
Not everything is as meaningful as we think it to be. Do you think that the person whose car broke down in middle of the road wanted that to happen? No. Accidents happen. People can be distracted. If you can’t sympathise, at least empathise with them. You could be in their place some other time.
Ask for Clarification
Handle the situation in a calm way by asking the other person openly what they intended to do or say. They may answer honestly or may not. But at least you save yourself a high blood pressure by not reacting to what you “thought” was their purpose. So the next time a nagging relative probes into your love life, ask them what they want to accomplish.
Say it Direct
Like we do, other people can also misconstrue our intensions, causing us to get irritated and react. In that case, state clearly the tone of your agenda to neutralize hostility for a sensitive topic. You could try phrases like “my intention for this meeting is ...”or “I don’t mean to be critical but help me understand...”
Focus on Something that Made You Happy Today
Positivity breaks the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions. It also helps remind you that life wasn’t always as painful as it seems in the present moment, and helps give you perspective. When you are distressed, think about the best thing that has happened to you today, or in the previous week.
Watch, or Listen to Something Upbeat
So instead of just calling out names to the person who caused traffic jam, just turn on the radio and listen your way through the emotional turmoil. Try listening to “You had a bad day” by Daniel Powter or “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bob McFerrin for starters.
Life is a constant flux of good and bad. When you are feeling emotionally reactive in a bad situation, just remember that this too will pass. It will perish and be replaced with something else, like everything in the past did. Do not let it get over you.
Read more articles on Stress Management.
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