Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

6 Ways to Stay at Peace Around Emotionally Reactive People

It seems like the shorter the days get,  the shorter people's fuses are. As the holiday dash and end of year activities increase, people are much more likely to be impatient, make hurtful comments, and get defensive. Over the past two weeks, I've encountered quite a few reactive personalities and maybe you have too. Today's post is about the impact of emotional reactivity and how to manage it when you are on the receiving end.  

I don't know about you, but I don't like it when when someone raises their voice. Much of the time the person isn't even aware of it and I have to say "Could you please lower your voice?" or "It sounds like you're getting defensive about this."  How about when someone  throws a temper tantrum?Tantrums are for two-year olds but apparently some adults regress when they get triggered. What about those emails with ALL CAPS and !!!!!. I think you get the picture.

Some people can brush off these emotional bombs easier than others. As a highly sensitive person and empath, I tend to feel emotions much more deeply than most people. Empaths absorb emotions easily which can cause disturbing physical symptoms.  If you happen to be the unlucky recipient of someone's emotional outburst, here are some techniques to help us all deflect the negative emotional energy and keep our peace.

1. Don't take it personally.
   Remember when someone is rude, unkind, gets defensive or reacts emotionally, it is about them, not you. Do your best to stay calm and keep your voice low. Do not get defensive and retaliate which will only escalate the interaction and cause more damage to the relationship. When someone over-reacts there is usually something going on beneath the surface that the other person may not be aware of. A good thing to say is "Did something I say upset you?" This will help the other person to realize they had an emotional reaction and gain awareness.

2. Clarify.
    If you're not sure what someone means, rather than get defensive yourself and retaliate, ask this question: "What did you mean by that?". By giving the other person a chance to explain him or herself, it will help minimize misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Many times we receive communication based on our own sensitivities. We all blurt out insensitive comments at times and we often don't realize how we come across to others until it is pointed out to us.

3. Don't overeat, overdrink, or over-exercise to self-medicate your hurt feelings. 
    Get to the root of your emotions and feelings before you sit down to eat, have a drink, or head for the gym or the track. These activities may pacify us temporarily but the healthy approach is to deal with our emotions sooner rather than later. They are not going to go away and burying them is a setup for illness down the road.

4. Set your boundaries. 
The only way relationships change is if someone changes. We have to be clear about what we will and will not tolerate in any given relationship and communicate this to the other party. Poor behavior will continue until we stop allowing it. Only one person has to change in order to effect a change in the relationship.

5. Minimize exposure to the other person.
    This is sometimes difficult to do but it comes down to how much you value your peace of mind, sanity, energy, and health. When we realize what is at stake, it becomes easier to put our foot down, as they say. We must value our own well-being over any relationship. For years, I would put up with abusive behavior from relatives, loved ones, and boyfriends until I realized how much I was hurting myself by allowing this behavior from others. I valued the relationship more than my well-being.

6. Be patient. 
    Change takes time. Wait and see if the other person is willing to try to change for the sake of the relationship. Don't expect people to change long-ingrained habits and behaviors over night. We might have to bring the same issue up many times before the other person "gets it". If they value their relationship with you, they will change. If they don't they won't in which case you don't need them in your life.

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Until next time, stay in peace and keep looking up!

Ariel