How we perceive an offensive or negative situation explains our level of emotionality. Someone remains as calm as possible and experiences feelings without showing the mind. Or he does not feel it too keenly. And if we are ready to burst into tears at the slightest offensive word or get angry that things are not going the way we planned, this may indicate emotional reactivity.
What is emotional reactivity?
We sometimes act impulsively when we feel stressed, angry, or hurt. We are in a state of internal struggle or rejection of a negative situation, so we tend to react to it quite sharply. This overreaction is emotional reactivity.
At this point, our perception of the situation changes. The emotional charge prevents us from seeing the problem as it is. Instead, we actively display a range of emotions that completely control our behavior.
Signs of emotional reactivity
To understand if your feelings are emotional reactivity, take a closer look at how you behave in stressful situations. Here are the main signs of this condition:
- You can feel resentment because of any little thing that seems offensive to you;
- Often your reaction is not appropriate for the situation. For example, you may be upset about a bouquet presented to you and cannot explain why you are experiencing these emotions. Or rejoice at the troubles in the life of a friend, although you do not wish her any harm;
- You believe that the events occurring are the culprit for your reaction and not how you interpret them;
- You react sharply to criticism: you actively defend yourself, argue with your opponent, you can easily break off relations with him or turn the dispute into accusations and a “slap in the face”;
- At the slightest provocation, you experience strong anger and rage, which do not allow you to assess the situation and make an informed decision reasonably;
- You cannot determine a specific trigger for emotional outbursts; any situation can cause this reaction;
- You may feel powerless and guilty that emotions often take over you;
- Others find you “prickly” and talk about the difficulties in communicating with you.
Coping with emotional reactivity
Of course, it is impossible to control your emotions completely, and it is not necessary. However, in the case of emotional reactivity, it is important to learn how to deal with this condition to feel better and improve relationships with others. Here’s how to do it.
Know your triggers
To become less emotionally reactive, you need to understand what makes you react that way. To do this, you can write down situations in which you showed your feelings in this way and look for repetitive ones. This could be criticism of what you are doing or how your colleague speaks if you discuss work issues.
The better you know your triggers, the easier it will be for you next time to get ready to react calmly to them.
Understand how you feel
To cope with emotional reactivity, you need to understand exactly what you are experiencing in the situation. Give a clear definition of emotions, even if you experience several at once.
For example, you may feel angry and resentful when you hear criticism. Or the frustration that leads to tears if you fail. Or anger that someone does not live up to your expectations.
It is helpful to keep a diary of emotions if you encounter reactivity frequently. So you can highlight those that appear most often and learn to fight each one individually—for example, dealing with anger or working on self-esteem.
And such a diary is also useful if you decide to consult a psychotherapist. So it will be easier for the doctor to understand you and track the dynamics and causes of reactive emotionality.
Learn to pause
You can learn to meditate to slow down and calm down.
Try to use your maximum strength to slow down and calm down before expressing your opinion or somehow reacting to an acute situation.
For example, if you realize that the words of a loved one made you angry, ask him for a few minutes to calm down. Leave the room, take a few deep breaths and exhalations.
Or if you want to cry over a stranger’s remark, also mentally stop and revive yourself. Concentrate on what’s going on around you to distract yourself and redirect your attention. Also, remind yourself that your feelings are reactive and may have nothing to do with the current state of affairs.
The main thing to remember is that it is better to take a short time out and discuss the situation calmly than to rush into an argument immediately because of the surging feelings.
Take responsibility for your feelings instead of blaming other people
Instead of blaming other people, try to acknowledge your feelings and take responsibility for them.
For example, if a friend didn’t call you even though you agreed to do so, don’t tell her, “I’m so angry that I didn’t get a call from you.”
Tell me about your feelings differently: “You didn’t call me yesterday, and it made me feel unnecessary. This upset me a lot. Next time, if you do not have time to contact me, please send an SMS. “
First, this conversation is more constructive. And secondly, the friend will surely understand the reason for your feelings, and next time she will pay more attention to fulfilling her promise.
Don’t forget to rest
Feeling tired and constantly stressed can make your emotions reactive because the body cannot draw energy to cope with them. Also, feelings can become too reactive during burnout.
Be sure to include activities in your schedule that help you relax and get positive. It could be a favorite hobby, spa treatments, or just a movie night. The more often we “switch off” from stressors, the less reactive we react to.