Has following ever happened to you? You are discussing an issue with your partner when discussion suddenly turns into a heated argument. Neither person knows what happened or how to make it better. A battle ensues and lots of feelings are hurt.
This is overreaction in progress.
If this sounds familiar, it's because most of us have been in this situation. Want to know how to deal with these types of situations and understand why they happen? Welcome to Overreaction 101.
Everyone has some painful memories from past relationships and interactions. When a person overreacts in present it is usually because a painful memory from a past incident is being triggered.
The person whose painful memory has been triggered is no longer having a conversation in present moment, but is reliving a past event. He or she may be having an old argument with person who originally caused hurt feelings. Or he or she may be reliving an old hurt, feeling as if it is happening all over again.
This is why reaction is so strong, why it is an overreaction. It's as if a wound that just barely started to heal is ripped open, and person is now in a huge amount of pain.
There are six steps to take in order to effectively handle a person who is overreacting. If your partner is one who tends to overreact, apply these steps when overreaction happens, and also share these steps with him or her in a moment of calm.
If you are one who tends to overreact, arm your partner with six steps below to protect him or her and your relationship.
1. Have compassion in same way you would if a real physical wound was ripped open.
A person overreacting is in real pain. Yes, they are lashing out at you, saying hurtful or inflaming things, maybe even being offensive. But these are exact signs of a person in pain. See if you can stop from having a reaction yourself, and instead feel compassion.
2. Table current discussion - you will not resolve it at this point. Make a mental note to return to it soon.
A person in middle of an overreaction is extremely unreasonable. Try as you might, there is virtually zero chance you can have a normal conversation with him or her, or get anything accomplished. However, if you try to continue a conversation with someone who is having an overreaction, you are guaranteed one outcome - a huge fight.
3. Don't take overreaction personally under any circumstances. This is not at all about you.
Seriously - it really is not about you. No matter what is being said in middle of overreaction, it is not about you. If you take it personally and get hurt over it, you are simply joining your partner in overreaction.
4. Remove yourself from situation.
Once your partner overreacts, topic that triggered overreaction needs to be tabled until a better, calmer time. Meanwhile, you need to remove yourself from situation temporarily to avoid feeling abused.