Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker

Over and Under Reacting: Why Your Reactions Might Be Off

January 11, 2024 MaryAnn Walker Episode 77
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker
Over and Under Reacting: Why Your Reactions Might Be Off
Show Notes Transcript

Are you giving level 10 reactions to level 2 situations? Or maybe you're giving a level 2 reaction to a level 10 situation? Over and under reacting can be a sign that something in your life is out of alignment. But with a little curiosity, self compassion, and mindfulness, it is possible to get back on track!

To connect with MaryAnn on her other platforms,  click here: https://linktr.ee/maryannwalker.life

Find amazing journal prompts at Write Your Wellness here: https://writeyourwellness.com/

Find your own copy of A Mind At Home With Itself here: https://amzn.to/3TNr7RC

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Well, hello and welcome back. So for those of you watching on YouTube, I have been fiddling around with different AI options and in the program that I'm using, they do have an option to turn on your eye contact. So then when I'm reading what I wrote down, when I'm reading my notes, it still will look like I'm looking at the screen. And you guys, sometimes this works real great. And other times, it looks like I have googly eyes, and I'll look up and you can see my eyelashes at a different spot, and it's very entertaining. So if you haven't checked out the YouTube, you can go over and look. Some of them, then it's harder to spot than others, but anyway, I'm debating if I like the AI feature or not when it comes to the eye contact, so you can let me know if you think it's valuable, or if you think it's okay that I look at my script every now and then. So let me know. So Allie from Write Your Wellness, she's been here on the podcast before, but she recently brought up a very good point on my Instagram page. She commented on a reel that I made where I was wearing this super fun wig that I got from my father in law over Christmas. So thank you for that wig. That has been so much fun. So again, come and follow me on social media. Oh my gosh, you guys, I am having way too much fun playing different characters with wigs on and now I think I need to get a wig in like every color. So if there is a hair color you think would look just amazing on me, then let me know. Right now I have a pink one and a teal one in my cart and I'm kind of trying to decide what colors I want. I also like the peach ones. I'm going crazy with these colors, y'all. So if you have a color you think I should try on, let me know. Cause I am having way too much fun with those wigs. But anyway, I wasn't getting on to talk about wigs. I just got really excited about wigs.

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So anyways, I made a really funny reel over on Instagram of me wearing a really cute long blonde wig and I was playing a character that was overreacting to a burned grilled cheese sandwich.

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And then Allie brought up a really great point in the comment section. She said. Sometimes it feels safer to stress over a sandwich than a more serious problem. If the grilled cheese is getting a 10 reaction, check what problems have been given a two. That's likely where the real stress comes from. And I was so grateful for her super articulate comment that I wanted to do a whole episode on it because I'm just so appreciative that she pointed out this phenomenon. Anytime that our reactions don't match the situation, it is a sign that we need to take a closer look at what's actually going on for us. So today we're going to be taking a look at people pleasers in particular and situations where they may be overreacting and situations where they may be underreacting. Overreacting is when a reaction is bigger than the situation warrants, and underreacting is when a reaction is essentially minimizing something that's bigger and more serious that's going on. Now, because people pleasers want everybody to be happy, they oftentimes bite their tongue in an effort to minimize situations in order to keep The peace, but because this form of keeping the peace, it isn't honoring of the actual experience, it oftentimes creates conflict or an internal war within themselves. And when this happens, then oftentimes other people or less significant issues, they might become a target for our reactions when they do bubble up, right? Because our reactions are going to come out. We have to process our emotions. Eventually I've used the example before about the beach ball and trying to hold a beach ball under the water. Like you can hold it under the water. for a pretty long amount of time, but eventually your arms are going to get tired and that ball's going to blast out of the water. It might hit yourself in the face. It might hit somebody else in the face. It might fly out of the pool and knock somebody off of their feet. But at that point we have lost control. And in today's episode, I'm hoping that the examples that I share, it can illustrate that point a bit more about the importance of honoring the actual experience so that we don't lose control and express those reactions in a disproportionate way onto basically an innocent bystander. Okay, so here's a few examples for you. Now, for me, even from a very young age, I really had a tendency to people please. So I think that I was maybe about 12 when this happened, but I went to get my hair done, and the hairdresser took me over to the sink to wash my hair, and maybe my preteen neck was just a little too tiny for that sink, I'm not quite sure, but as she was spraying my hair, I could feel so much water going down my back. a lot of water. It was going completely down my shirt. I was soaked and I didn't want to say anything about it. I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable. I didn't want her to feel bad. So I really didn't say a word and when she was finished with my haircut and she removed my cape then she could see that my entire back was soaked and she felt So bad and now for me by this time, you know, cause the whole time it was happening. I was thinking well, it's warm water That's gonna be okay. Sure warm water feels good. I had this self delusion meant happening right where this is okay This is okay. This is okay. And then by the time my haircut was done. It was no longer warm water In fact, it was really cold. My shirt was really cold. I was really uncomfortable. I was having a hard time sitting still for the haircut and I was trying to smile through it all. Classic people pleaser, right? I'm so uncomfortable, but I'm not going to say a word. Now I was minimizing my wet shirt as well as my own discomfort because I was prioritizing the hairdresser's comfort level. I didn't want her to feel any negative emotions. around my soaking shirt. But as you know, since I'm sure that you're totally a devoted listener to this podcast, it is not our job to manage other people's emotions. But even though I know that I can't manage other people's emotions, it sure didn't stop me from trying. So I can't remember much else about that day in particular. But I think it's highly likely that when I was feeling cold and irritable on the car ride home, I probably wasn't super pleasant with my mom. And when I walked into the house, I was maybe a bit more grumpy and irritable with my family members. And it was all because I was prioritizing someone else's comfort level. And I was minimizing my own experience now because I minimized my discomfort with my hairdresser. I'm more than likely maximized my irritability with my family. Even though they really didn't do anything, right? They probably were just existing in the home when I walked in the door, and I was probably pretty irritable with them. If I had just acknowledged my own discomfort in the moment, first of all, my shirt would not be near as wet as it was, and I would have actually shortened my overall experience. Experience with discomfort and it would've also shortened the discomfort of other people. Sure, the hairdresser probably would've felt a little uncomfortable, like, oh, oops, sorry. I'm so sorry that I sprayed your back with water. But she'd be less uncomfortable if I had spoken up in the moment versus seeing that my entire back of my shirt was drenched all the way down to my pants right? So I'm gonna use another common example here, and this is around boundaries. Now, I use ChatGPT to help to come up with these scenarios, so don't worry. I'm not breaking anybody's confidences, but these are things that I see all the time in my practice. Okay. So, Sarah. Now, Sarah is a people pleaser who always prioritizes the wants and wishes of other people. This means that Sarah says yes. To literally everything. So it's like, hey, can you watch my kids for a bit? Sure, bring them over. Hey, can you help me decorate for the party? Of course I can come early. Hey, can you stay after you help clean up? Yeah, not a problem. Hey, can you take me to my doctor's appointment? Yeah, no biggie. Sure, I'm there. And Sarah does in fact enjoy doing these things. She just doesn't necessarily enjoy doing all of these things for other people. At the same time that she's trying to navigate and fulfill her own needs and keep herself afloat.

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So as the weeks go on, because you know, we've all been there, this can happen for a while and we can do okay. But eventually she found herself feeling stretched a little bit too thin. And like her feelings and her experiences were being discarded. And minimized by her friends, right? That her emotions didn't matter, even though really she hadn't done anything to indicate to them that she was feeling overwhelmed, that she did have a need, that she was struggling to stay afloat. She had done nothing to indicate that there was a problem and yet was feeling angry that her friends had minimized her experience when she herself was the one doing the minimizing. Here she is, she's going through all of the motions, and she hasn't actually told anyone that she's having a hard time. But she's really feeling minimized, and discarded, and unappreciated.

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And so essentially it is her, not her friends that are minimizing her experience.

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She's saying, no, it's okay, I can do this, and I can do this, and I can do this, Without acknowledging her own burnout and her own fatigue, and this is actually building a whole bunch of resentment towards the very people that she's trying to love.

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So one day while she's chatting with some friends, one of them made a comment about an upcoming vacation that she's planning for because she recognizes that she just really needs to get away. AnD that's when it happened. Sarah snapped. This was more than she could handle in this moment because she needed a break, right? So here she is thinking, what, really? She thinks she needs a break? She needs to get away? Whatever. Like, I'm the one who's been bending over backwards to help out this friend. How ungrateful she must be to be planning a vacation for herself. She must not see or appreciate me at all. You know, I'm the one that needs a break, not this friend. And so then with that, if Sarah's thinking those things, of course, our thoughts drive our actions. And so Sarah is now lashing out at this friend. So she finds herself making sarcastic comments and offering passive aggressive responses towards this friend, as her friend is sharing her vacation plans. And so because Sarah is feeling very activated in this moment, she isn't thinking clearly at all. All she can see right now is her own story, that she is being used, that she is being unappreciated. Deep down, then Sarah probably knows that the real issue isn't her friend's vacation. She knows that she has been helping this very friend because she knows how much this friend really does need this break. But because Sarah is feeling so burned out, Sarah's mind has made this friend's vacation mean that her own needs Are invalid Sarah's insensitive comments were made in an attempt to fill her own need of being seen and Appreciated but her actions of lashing out at her friends have made the vacation the problem rather than acknowledging that her own emotional state and her own overwhelm is the problem. Sarah minimized her fatigue and her own time constraints when her friends were making requests of her. And now she's lashing out at the very friends that she agreed to help friends that more than likely they would jump in and help out Sarah if they knew how burned out she'd been feeling. Okay, so another example. Now we'll talk about Emily. So Emily is a very devoted spouse who always puts her partner's needs above her own. But lately As her workload has increased, then she's had more demands on her time and more demands on her energy. And her partner tends to assume that Emily is just going to continue to handle all the home responsibilities that she's been handling. But this isn't leaving much room for personal time for Emily to rest and regroup so that she can manage her new heavier workload. So Emily is constantly minimizing her own fatigue to avoid adding any strain on the relationship. But this is actually increasing the strain. that she's putting on herself. So when she sees that her partner has left a coffee mug in the sink, she totally loses it. She's saying, Oh, seriously, like I do so much around here and you can't even load your own mug. But the truth is, it's not about the coffee cup at all. It's actually about her own feelings of being burned out and feeling taken for granted. The mug is receiving the big reaction, but the actual issue is her own stress level. So when you find yourself reacting in big ways or in small ways. Check in on a scale of 1 to 10. What would you rate the scenario and does your reaction fit the scenario now? Sarah had decided to treat her fatigue as a level 1 or 2 When really her burnout was more at a level 8 and because of this her level 8 reaction that beach ball It came out when she found herself lashing out about her friend's vacation something that she would usually celebrate with her friends. Likewise, Emily had been giving her level nine overwhelm with her increased workload a three, which means eventually her level nine reaction went to her spouse over that coffee cup. Your reactions will come out eventually, and it can take some time to assign your reactions in a proportionate way in the moment. It's a process. It takes time. I get it. I am still working on this. And as I've said before, when I'm sick, when I'm tired, when I'm feeling stressed, it's a bit harder to do. But as you practice doing this, it will become easier over time, I promise. But thinking through what reaction actually fits the situation is key when it comes to having that. self compassion, as well as that compassion for others, that's going to prevent that blast in the face of that beach ball, or it's either going to knock you off their feet, or knock somebody else off of their feet. It's the compassionate thing to do to check in with self and check in with what kind of a reaction am I assigning to the situation. And I get it that sometimes we don't know in the moment what fits. In the moment, we might be okay with just one more thing on our to do list. It's not a big deal, right? It's not a big deal to put that on our to do list. But taking a moment to reflect on, okay. I understand that right now, I have the energy to say yes to this person and this assignment and this task. But I also know I have other things on my to do list and will I still have energy for the things on my to do list if I take this on? Just take a moment to check in with yourself and see what it's actually going to be creating for you. The goal is to create something that is more sustainable for you so you can continue to show up in love. You can continue to show up in kindness. You need to do what you need to do to sustain. self. So take that time to check in and just notice too, for example, how you're responding in times of significant overwhelm. As I said, you know, when you're sick, when you're tired, you're going to know it's going to be a little bit more of a challenge to navigate those things, but also notice maybe if you're experiencing grief, when people are experiencing grief, then sometimes those big emotions they are going to come out in unexpected ways. So it might come out with the cashier. When you're checking out, that maybe something didn't ring in the way you wanted it to. So now you find yourself arguing at the cashier over 12 cents. Or, maybe you're really getting upset about the person in front of you, that you're waiting in line behind them at the pump, and you think that they should be filling their tank faster than they're filling it. You think they're just sitting there on their phone and their tank is probably filled, and you find your tension building and you want to lash out at this person. Just notice that, that these are actually probably level 1 or level 2 scenarios. And if you find yourself giving it a big reaction, ask yourself, What level 8, 9, 10 scenario am I not acknowledging right now? What am I minimizing right now? And how can I give it the space that it needs so that I can feel that, that I can process that, and I'm not lashing out at strangers. Okay, so I think to share just one more thing here. Now, something that I see pretty often in my practice is when my clients are actually minimizing the actions and behaviors of other people. And they might be telling me a story that I'm thinking is, wow, this is a pretty serious event, but they're telling it with a smile on their face. And they're telling me it's fine. It's fine. It's fine. It's okay. It's okay. They didn't mean it. They might be making up excuses for this other person's behavior and telling themselves the story that it's not a big deal. And they might even have tears rolling down their cheeks as they're telling me this. And they don't know why they legitimately don't know why they're crying. Like, I don't know why my eyes are watering right now. And I have to point out to them that, okay, well, this is a disproportionate reaction, right? Your body doesn't lie. Okay. Even if you've told yourself the story, a lot of times that something is true, your body is going to point out to you when there's a little bit of cognitive dissonance there. So maybe they've told themselves the lie of it's fine. They didn't mean it. Maybe they've told themselves that life for so long that their mind actually believes it. But you can see from their body language that their body knows how much it hurts. The body understands the impact. The body knows that things are out of alignment. The body knows that there is some cognitive dissonance happening around what currently is. What is the current reality? And what is it that they want to believe instead? Now, I am currently listening to a book titled A Mind at Home with Itself by Byron Katie. And yes, I will put a link to that book in the show notes if you're interested. But there was something that was said in that book that really stood out to me. They said, when you believe a thought that conflicts with reality, You're confused. So if you find yourself in a situation like that where you're thinking, I don't know why I'm crying, I don't know why I'm shaking right now, then use that as an indicator that there may be something that's happening in your current reality that you're trying to minimize or resist. In an effort to self regulate, essentially, right? That's what we're doing, is we're trying to minimize any personal discomfort by saying, it's okay, I can just pretend that those things aren't happening. I can just ignore that, and it will go away, and it will be fine. But notice what that's creating in your body. Your body is going to recognize that cognitive dissonance, and it's going to want to bring things back into alignment. So listen to your body. Radically accept what is. Radically accept that someone else's words or someone else's actions Had impact on you. It's okay to acknowledge impact, whether they meant it or not acknowledge and feel the impact of that experience radically accept your time constraints. That, you know what, I'm radically accepting that I just don't have the time or energy to do this. Radically accept your energy level. Begin to recognize that self delusion and this will help you to better match your reactions to the situations in more proportionate ways. And of course, if you would like some support around this, I encourage you to seek out help. Consider working with a coach or with a therapist. And of course, I would be honored if you chose to work with me, but also there are so many coaches and therapists out there that I think would do amazing for you. You might choose to talk with a friend. You might choose to write in your journal. Journaling is an absolutely amazing way. To process emotions and come to see things a bit more clearly. I am a big advocate of journaling. And as Allie said at write your wellness, that's actually her journaling website. So you should go check her out. In fact, I think I'll link her in the show notes too, but she has some journaling prompts that are amazing for helping people to process. So as Allie said, if you find yourself giving level 10 responses to level two situations. Take a moment and ask yourself, okay, what level 10 situation am I currently minimizing or undervaluing right now? And how can I better feel or process my emotions around that so I'm not lashing out at other people? You are responsible for your emotional well being and raising your own personal awareness. around these emotions and increasing your capacity to process your emotions fully. It will help you to not only not cause further injury to self, but also minimize injury to others, right? When you're able to up level that and use that as an opportunity for personal growth, everyone benefits. When you do that, so when your responses don't align to the situation, it's essential to really investigate. Okay? What are the underlying causes what's coming up for me and acknowledge it and you might be someone who desires to keep everybody happy And if so, you might have a tendency to downplay your own needs and your own wants and your own desires. And this can create both internal conflict as well as disproportionate external. Reactions. So just notice that in self and check in. By acknowledging and addressing the actual stressors, we can avoid those misplaced outbursts and foster healthier relationships with ourselves and with others. So the next time you find yourself reacting in ways that are not in alignment with who you are or with who you want to be, take a moment to self reflect and to ask, does this reaction align to the true source of stress in this scenario? Or am I misattributing stress here? Is it actually about the cup in the sink? Or is there something else happening here? Check in with yourself, see what the actual underlying cause is. And this self awareness, it can lead to more authentic responses. When you're communicating with others, it can lead to higher levels of emotional well being and more harmonious connections overall. So hey, here's to a week of self awareness and proportional reactions. I love you guys. Check out the show notes for all the links I said I was gonna put in. I'll listen back so I make sure I get all of them. And I'll see you next week. Alright, have a great one. Bye now.