How to stop overreacting and calm yourself is one of the most important skills you can have.
Maybe you’ve found yourself overreacting to things that happen almost everyday. For instance…
1. If someone cuts you off on the freeway you spontaneously get so angry you honk your horn and shout at them (even though they can’t possibly hear you and you know you are overreacting).
2. Or, you find yourself stuck in a slow line at the supermarket so you sigh and mumble to yourself in frustration.
3. Or, you see a social media post that triggers you and before you can stop yourself, you’re typing an angry reply.
After you are done overreacting you wonder what just happened! Where did that outburst come from?
These are just a few examples of overreacting that just about everyone experiences from time to time even if you are not usually an emotionally reactive person.
But have you asked yourself why overreacting happens?
For sure it can make you feel like you are being controlled by some invisible force. It’s like being imprisoned by your emotions.
Two Major Sources of Your Overreacting
1. The source of your overreaction is your own brain. The amygdala is a component in your brain that is the genetic remnant of the brain possessed by reptiles that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. Reptiles existed in a world much different from ours. It was a world full of simple needs and simple dangers.
In essence, the reptile either ate something else or was eaten. The lizard that possessed this brain needed only three basic instinctual impulses in order to survive. Depending on the circumstances, it needed to fight, freeze, or flee.
These lizard brain behaviors range from phobias to snap judgments to procrastination to writer’s block and more. They arise because the reptilian brain complex is designed to work in one simple mode. When confronted with a challenge, such as hunger, or a perceived threat, such as a frightening situation, your lizard brain gives you only three possible choices – fight, freeze or flee.
Back in the day, say fifty million years ago, these were valid day to day options that helped keep your distant ancestors alive and kicking. If you were hungry, you killed something and ate it. If something was trying to kill and eat you, you froze or ran away. In other words, the amygdala helped you to live to fight, freeze, or flee another day.
The lizard brain in your head still operates in the same way today. The difference is that there isn’t a lot of eat or be eaten situations in modern society, so fighting, fleeing, or freezing are often overreacting responses to modern situations.
What happens instead of fighting, people exhibit quick “kneejerk” behaviors and anger. Instead of fleeing, people find themselves overreacting and becoming unreasonably frightened. Instead of freezing people procrastinate or unintentionally sabotage themselves.
Simply because there is the remnant of a lizard brain in your head, does not mean that you have to actualize these ancient, and largely obsolete, reactions.
Realizing where these inappropriate responses come from, and why, is the first step to dealing with overreacting behaviors.
2. The second cause of overreacting lies in the many subtle-energy thoughtforms you have created by overreacting in the past.
Each time to have an emotional reaction you energize subtle-energy patterns with your lifeforce. That is why after an emotional outburst you feel drained and tired.
Over time each of these subtle-energy patterns become stored in your aura, chakras, and physical body. They collect there in clusters and layers waiting to reactive the next time you are triggered.
The only way you can do that is by learning how to calm yourself.
Three Techniques for battling Negative Effects of Overreacting
The first is recognizing where these behaviors come from and to see them in your own day to day life for what they are.
The second is to plan ahead on how to deal with them when they occur.
The third is to deal with the outcome of their effects. Now here’s how to do this…
When you feel a reaction rising up or you recognize it is an overreacting trigger while you pause, withhold self-judgments, and take a breath.
Acknowledge to yourself that you are just experiencing a survival instinct that is part of your physical make-up, and there are ways to address them and reduce them.
Even if you have already overreacted shift your energy by taking a deep breath in through your mouth and exhale gently out your mouth.
It helps to put a label on your overreacting because specifically identifying helps you to disidentify from it by refuting it’s claim on you and releasing the energy from it.
What exactly is your reaction? Is it anger? Frustration? Insecurity? Frightened? Anxiety? If someone has cut you off, then there’s a good chance your reaction is anger. Anger and fear are likely your most common overreactions, however, as you navigate your day, there will be a range of reactions for you to label.
Ask yourself why this has triggered you in the way it did. The point of this step is to make yourself aware of your blind spots and triggers.
Often, the emotion in your reaction is due to something simmering below the surface. It’s deeper than just being cut off. Rather, you might be reacting angrily because you feel like it’s going to make you late.
Think about this, have you ever cut someone off because you have been running late? Probably. That doesn’t make it right, but it should help you put it into perspective.
The more information you can gather about your overreacting, the more deeply and thoroughly you’ll be able to release and clear it.
You’ve paused, labeled, and asked, now it’s time to choose your healthy response. This is a key step in the process. Think about your goal, what matters most, and how you can respond productively. Is getting angry going to help you achieve your goal?
No. The goal in our example is to get to work (or another destination) on time and safely. Getting angry is going to shift your focus and distract you from that goal. A better response would be to shake it off and focus on the drive.
You don’t want to ignore or bury the emotional and subtle-energy tied up in your overreaction. Let’s briefly look at the two most common triggers: Anger and Fear.
Sometimes getting angry causes people to do what you want them to.
Parents yell at their kids and pets to control their behavior. People in relationships often do the same thing.
The reality is that anger doesn’t really get you the results you want. People may temporarily do what you want, but they’ll resent you, hate you, or fear you.
Anger also breeds more anger.
Here’s what happens when you are angry…
Getting angry actually feeds more lifeforce into the anger program controlling you…So you unwittingly energize the very anger pattern want to get rid of.
The way to counter the anger program is to center in your heart, take a deep breath, and energize the opposite: peace, love, patience, and kindness. That may seem difficult in the moment of anger, but with practice you cut off the energy source of the anger and it will diminish.
If you want to completely eliminate overreacting I suggest the methods in my Subtle-Energy Neutralizer program.
Fear is a Good Thing Because it keeps me from Danger
That probably makes some sense doesn’t it?
Well, if you are actually in a threatening situation it could conceivably help by amping up your adrenaline so you can fight or run away.
Yet, you probably have a form of fear on a regular basis when you are not under a direct threat. For instance, worry, low self-esteem, self-doubt, anxiety, insecurity, and dozens of other variations are all common forms of fear.
99% of the time what is feared never happens. Yet this ego program can squelch your best efforts at succeeding and even prevent you from doing things that would be good for you or fun.
Chapters 7 & 8 of my book, The Soul Solution, go into some detail on clearing fear and the ego.
The Opposite of Overreacting is Inner Peace and Serenity
Deep inner peace is a state of spiritual calmness without sufferings or mental disturbances. It is a sense of calmness regardless of one’s surroundings or circumstances.
Serenity comes from the Latin word “serenus,” which means clear or unclouded. Serenity is a mental state in which you feel calm and untroubled while truly at peace deeply within yourself.
With practice, you will find yourself shifting away from reactive emotions and calming yourself more effectively.
Besides methods I’ve already mentioned practicing acceptance is another important way to experience constant serenity throughout your daily life. By accepting the curve balls that life may throw at you, you will no longer let things bother you as much as you have in the past.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you necessarily agree with what happened. Acceptance is about recognizing forces were set in motion to cause the circumstances so while you don’t necessarily agree with what happened you are able to recognize what caused it to take place.
Accepting uncertainty and understanding that you cannot predict the future or change the past allows you to feel present in the moment and let go of the wandering thoughts.
Finding a sense of acceptance for what is and what will be allows you to be more alert and focused on what is in front of you while feeling inner calm.
When you have deep inner calmness you are much more effectively able to handle any situation that arises.
Serenity: The Opposite Of Internal Chaos
What your mind needs is the opposite of internal chaos. Your mind needs Serenity.
Serenity is a state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. A mind with serenity will not harm others. It will be patient and kind. It will not suffer anxious or depressed thoughts. It will simply be.
Create a Serenity Trigger
A serenity trigger can be anything you focus on to remind you of serenity. For instance, images of a serene pastoral setting with rolling grassy hills and a peaceful running stream. You focus on the mental image or inner movie of this.
When visualized, it reminds you to pause from whatever you are doing and go to your place of serenity amidst any chaos going on around you.
Your serenity trigger can be anything that works for you. Maybe it’s a picture of your family or significant other that you keep in your wallet. Maybe it’s the sound of a waterfall or an accessory you can wear or carry with you such as a crystal. You could also use an app on your smart phone that plays relaxing music while displaying pictures or movies of relaxing scenes. Find something that makes you feel peace and use it as your serenity trigger.
I have a lot more suggestions and guidance for you in my free e-book: The Power of Zen.