Are You The Person Who Always “Overreacts”?
Why do you often find yourself sharing your frustration with how things are going at work only to hear the following response?
“You might be overreacting to this” “You’re making a bigger deal out of this than it is…” “You’re being hypersensitive”
Followed by the classic “It’s just the way it is. You need to learn how to let go… for your sake. You’ve worked with them for so long…”.
In fact, why is it that you’ve heard those sentences time and time again for pretty much your entire life?
You’ve probably figured out over the years that you’re way more sensitive than most people around you. You feel more emotions and they hit you hard. They’re rich, intense, and especially fiery when you witness or experience injustice or discrimination.
So that explains it, right? You keep hearing that you “need to let go” and that you’re “overreacting” because you simply feel more than most people around you. So of course they’d feel like you’re overreacting. It looks like you’re just doomed to hear those responses from those around you for the rest of your life. Problem solved?
Not really. Because all you’ve really done is diagnose the problem and accept things as they are. In fact, now you probably feel even more alienated from others and still continue to feel that sting from the constant invalidation you experience whenever you share your dissatisfaction with work to those around you.
Now, that sting of invalidation becomes your point of focus. You spend your days and nights exhausting your emotional energy wondering if you’re really overreacting and should suck it up. While that is happening, more frustrating things happen at work. The cycle repeats, the pent up anger builds up, and you just feel immobilized.
Sounds like a broken system, doesn’t it? Now you wonder you feel stifled by your job and have no clarity on what to actually do to change the situation.
Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be this way. You can experience discrimination at your workplace, feel that fiery anger, and still feel completely emotionally validated, free of pent up anger, and naturally know what steps you need to take to get yourself out of your situation. I’ve helped my clients achieve just that and I’m going to show you exactly how right now.
See, the biggest mistake you made here was to unconsciously let the people around you be your source of emotional validation. You’ve already established that you’re different from those around you – you feel more and you feel intensely. Knowing that, don’t you think it would be a little silly to expect those around you to be able to really grasp what you’re saying and how you’re feeling?
When your friends and family tell you to just let it go when someone in management dismisses your ideas all the time without even hearing what you have to say, that’s not them trying to shut you down. It’s them saying that that if they were in your position, they’ll probably get annoyed but brush it off. Now, when you really think about it… I’m almost certain that you don’t actually respect that decision. Because you know it propagates disrespectful behavior and keeps things at work less efficient than it could be.
Now if that is considered overreacting, then sign me up and call me Miss Professional Overreactor. But I digress…
So instead of ranting to friends and family and sticking to a broken system that leaves you with tons of pent up anger, I tell my clients to do these 4 steps of healthy emotional processing.
3: Identifying Bad Habits
4: Taking Action
Let me walk you through these steps.
So, firstly, what I tell my clients is to actively switch from external validation to self-validation.
Most of the time, my clients don’t even realize that they had placed their expectations of validation onto their partner, friends, or family. Probably because it’s what most people do – It’s a very natural thing to do. However, as sensitive people, we don’t always have the luxury of being relatable. Even to the people we’re close to.
Now self-validation is basically venting to yourself, and letting yourself know that you have the right to feel what you feel. Most of my clients prefer to self-validate via journalling. That is their form of expression. Writing it out, seeing it in front of you, and allowing yourself to feel justified in the way you feel.
“But wait… if you self-validate, how would you know if you’re actually overreacting? You need a third person point of view to keep you grounded and objective”
Actually, I disagree. I mean, so far, getting other people involved in your frustrations has only led to feeling invalidated and stuck. Haven’t you noticed? As sensitive people, our standards and values are often highly different from the norm, and we often have to come to our own conclusions about what is overreacting to us. By our own individual standards. Because that’s giving respect to our sensitivities and unique perspectives.
Now, the next thing I tell my clients to do, right after journalling, is to take some time to cool down. Let the emotions flow through and settle down. Making decisions and conclusions while under the influence of strong negative emotions leads to terrible decision making, no matter how tempting it is 🙂
Once they’re cooled down, I tell them to look over their journal entry and spot the unhealthy habits they have engaged in while in anger. Did they try to include unrelated past issues? Did they victmize themselves? Did they go into worst case thinking? With emotions cooled off, I ask them to spot any bad habits they might have engaged in and be as objective as possible. You’ll be surprised at the amount of things that made complete sense to you in anger that can seem completely unjustified and unnecessary when you’re calm.
This step of working to be objective is usually highly difficult to spot because each of us use very specific negative mental strategies that can be easily missed or taken as objectivity because it’s written so convincingly. They have been used for decades so it can be easy to understand how they become that sneaky 😉
To steamline the process, I help my clients identify these highly specific negative mental patterns they engage in according to their personality structure (I use the Enneagram personality model) as well as asking specific questions about their life and moments of stress.
Now once they’ve identified and taken their bad habits out of the equation, they see the problem clearly. They see where they stand. They feel confident in their feelings and there’s only one thing left.
To take action.
This is where I formulate an appropriate and feasible action for my clients to take, that will do justice to the emotion that they felt, as well as push them to be more assertive in a way that fits their personality type.
So, to sum it up again. Here are the 4 steps of emotional processing.
3: Identifying Bad Habits
4: Taking Action
Each and every step of this formula is crucial and it should be done in order.
With this formula, I’ve had my clients feeling an overwhelming sense of relief from decades of pent up anger within 2 weeks, naturally with their friends and family mentioning how they’ve never seen them as relaxed and confident before. They feel validated and in complete control knowing that they can be their own guide when it comes to stressful experiences and emotions. On top of that, they find themselves having the drive to take action to move themselves out of their current work position.
The reason this works so well is because it puts the power back in your hands after spending most of your life feeling like you’re completely drowning in a sea of emotions that no one else seems to understand.
Helping you identify your key negative emotional patterns and teach out how to confidently navigate through your emotions and anxiety is some of the primary work I do in my 6 week 1:1 program. This program is designed specifically for sensitive introverts who struggle with social anxiety, find themselves stuck in their own head, and have trouble asserting themselves in the workplace despite having years of experience. If you’re ready to break out of anxiety and avoidant patterns, become naturally assertive and outspoken, and finally break out of the current work spiral you’re caught in, here’s the link to book a call with me.