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Three Things You Can Do Instead Of Overreacting

Three Things You Can Do Instead Of Overreacting

If you look up the word “overreact” in most dictionaries, the gist of the definition goes something like this: “responding to a stimulus with more emotion or behavior than necessary.” Given this meaning, there are two possibilities here. Either you have evaluated your response and decided that it was more than what the situation called for, or someone else has given you feedback that they think this is the case. Either way, if it’s apparent that your emotional expression or physical action did not fit the parameters of the context in which they occurred, and you want to react differently in the future, there are three things you can do in less than five minutes to install a new mental program.

Role Model

Did you ever play the dress-up game as a kid where you put on dad’s shoes or “borrowed” some of your mother’s make-up and pretended to be an adult? Even though you didn’t know it at the time, games like dress-up are actually meaningful learning activities where children mimic a role model and act out pieces of behavior. Doing this literally “installs” those behavioral patterns with repetition. The first of the three things you can do to change your overreaction is to pick a role model who would behave in ways which you find appealing in the same context in which you used to overreact. This person can be real or fictitious. All you need is a mental movie of how they would behave that lasts for 2-3 seconds. Set up the role model in the same situation as yourself and run the movie. Pay careful attention to their way of speaking, their posture, voice tone, facial expression, and their mannerisms. Now play this movie in your head a few times, making sure all of the crucial pieces are in place and that their reaction is effective for you. Feel free to tweak any pieces that don’t fit.

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Rehearse

Now comes the fun part. Just like when you were a kid, mentally act out the scenario with the role model in mind, but this time step inside their skin and experience the clip from “behind their eyes.” See, hear and feel what you imagine what they would see, hear and feel. If something seems out of place, feel free to pop out of the role model and make any adjustments by watching your role model react in a better, more productive way that fits in with the overall ecology of who you are.

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The key to games like dress-up or copy-cat is repetition. Taking a minute or two and really getting inside of your role model a few times helps your brain and your body learn new emotions and behaviors that you’ll need the next time you’re triggered. When you’ve gotten this second part down, move on to the third and final step.

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Rewire

Human behaviors and emotions always occur within some kind of context. We really are not hard wired to be able to do a piece of behavior randomly. Regarding overreacting, there was a specific stimulus that triggered a sequence of thoughts and feelings which led to a specific output. To re-sequence this reaction you’ll need to attach your role model’s behavior, which you have acquired through rehearsal, to a reliable trigger that resides in the context we are working on. So, if your friend uses a certain voice tone that flips on your crazy switch or your husband gives you a look that sends you off the deep-end, create a new movie of that very trigger seeing yourself in your mind’s eye perceiving the trigger and then watch as you act with the same elegance as your role model–but this time it is you! Run the movie again remembering to jump into your own skin, perceive the trigger, and act out mentally what you would think, say and do in that situation now having the new resource of your role model.

You will be able to run through this technique quickly and easily once you try out this technique on a few examples from your past. In addition, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you can change other unwanted behaviors and feelings by learning from role models in this new and streamlined way. Feel free to experiment! It’s your mind and there is nothing wrong with playing with it.

Review

  1. Think of a role model who does not overreact.
  2. Create a short mental movie of that person in action noticing his/her non-verbal and verbal behaviors.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness and make any necessary tweaks.
  4. Run the movie again with yourself in your role model’s skin.
  5. Choose a future context where you want to behave like your role model.
  6. See yourself in that context with the new behavior and step into the picture and look out through your own eyes.
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Last Updated on September 17, 2019

10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

1. Spend Time with Positive People

If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

3. Contribute to the Community

One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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Some recommendations for you:

5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

8. Offer Compliments to Others

Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

10. Practice Self-Care

Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

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Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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