How do you gauge your reaction to situations? Have you ever thought that your reaction was not right for a particular situation? Has anyone ever pointed this out to you, remarking that your reaction was not appropriate?
Just like we can overreact to an event or situation in our lives, we can also have an under-reaction. Whether our emotional response was too big or too small, this potentially means that we misread the atmosphere of the situation. Either way, both extreme reactions can impact our life in many ways, some of which are harmful. Clear lines of communication and healthy emotional responses are vital in all relationships: romantic, platonic, and work-related.
Being told that you are being inappropriate with your emotional response can be difficult to hear and hard to understand. So, let me give you an example to help you contextualize the predicament and guide you towards a deeper insight…
A couple of summers ago, my family and I lost one of our kitties, Cali. Of course, we were all very sad — but one of my sons had an especially dramatic reaction. Overcome by his emotions, he would throw himself onto the ground and wail. At first, my husband and I gave our son the space to exert himself with these emotions; they needed to naturally filter out of him. However, by the third day of grieving, his reaction had shifted into an overreaction. It was so immense and overbearing that it filled up the house. This put additional pressure on the rest of the family — who were also trying to heal — so his response had to be addressed.
Cali’s passing was already difficult for the family. With the sudden loss, we were all having a hard time processing our emotions. My husband and I knew that our son’s emotions had to be contained for the rest of the family’s benefit. That did not mean forbidding him from expressing sadness, of course. It just meant we needed to take care of him by giving him perspective on the situation.
I told my son that it was okay to be upset about losing Cali. This quieted him down. I then asked what he may have learned from the passing of Cali, which helped him process and view the situation with better clarity. It was important for me to sit down and talk to him about his feelings without negating them. He needed to know that it was acceptable to feel sad and even mad for a little bit, as long as he understood where his emotions were coming from. I encouraged him to talk about these emotions to further process the situation if or when necessary, which he did.
This was an example of an overreaction, but under-reactions are also common. When we shut down inside and don’t show any (or very little) emotion, we are misreading the atmosphere in the opposite manner. It would be like experiencing childbirth and feeling unmoved or witnessing a car crash and feeling bored… Each response would be inappropriate for the situations at hand.
After reading this, you may now be thinking about your own reactions to various events and situations. Did you give yourself enough time and space to grieve the loss of something? Could you have responded to someone disrespecting you in a healthier manner? Can you understand how your reaction to a partner’s innocuous comment was overblown? By becoming cognizant of these reactions, you can work on bettering them.
So, how can you become aware of the reactions? The answer is an ancient tool of self-healing: meditation. Here are four meditations you can use to support you in your journey towards smart, balanced reactions in life:
4/4 Segmented Breathing Meditation: creates inner clarity and awareness
8/8 Segmented Breathing Meditation: encourages calmness and balance
Seven Wave Meditation: contains yourself from the inside-out
Sarab Gyan Kriya Meditation: connects you to your inner emotions and feelings
Practice one of these meditations every day for at least 40 days for best results. See how it affects your emotional responses to life events and helps foster healthy reactions.