<stages of overreacting – photo by me;)>
In 2013, Jake went to a counselor to encourage him to ‘express’ any emotional issues expected with a life changing event. We also recognized there were family issues that needed to be dealt with due to our over involvement in his life since the stroke.
It sounded like a good opportunity for the 3 of us to work it all out … right?
After our first two sessions, the counselor said, ‘Mrs. Nicolopulos, I don’t believe we are able to make progress in family counseling until I work with you one on one. Jake and your husband seem to be in a good place at this time, but you need to be in a healthier place. Afterwards we can get back together as a group and hopefully move forward.’
Jake gave a big fist punch saying ‘Oh Yea!‘ Craig looked at me like he was not surprised by the counselor’s comment, but grateful the message was coming from someone else.
From my comfy spot on the ‘therapy sofa,’ I responded politely, yet slightly surprised, ‘Oh, okay, sure, sounds good.’
Did he just suggest I might have issues?
During my first one on one session, I sobbed through a 1/4 box of tissues over frustration about Jake skipping classes. The counselor looked at me and said …
‘On a scale of 1 to 50, with 50 representing death or anything involving blood, where would you place missing a class on the scale?’
I responded, ‘perhaps a 7 or 8.’
The counselor continued, ‘So why are you reacting like missing class is a 47-50 on the scale?’ <for me, overreacting had become an automatic response to most events> ‘Mrs. Nicolopulos, you have already faced death with your son, why would you ever revisit a place, which you do, when you respond to a 7 or 8 issue as if it were a level 50 event?’
How ironic since going back to that moment was one of my greatest fears.
I proceeded to sob through the remaining 3/4 box of tissues.
The counselor continued by saying that reactions need to be in proportion to the situation, not over or under.
I have learned overreactions expose the areas of our lives that we are desperately trying to keep hidden. It may involve bitterness or insecurities … it is simply any area in our lives in which we feel inadequate or vulnerable.
For me, overreaction was linked to fear … it still is. The thought of going back to 12/09/09 or any part of the days that followed struck terror in me.
For most of us, as long as everything in life is fine, we are okay. But when something goes wrong, even a level 7 or 8 event can cause us to respond as if it were a 50 event on the scale.
Pressing Toward Joy thought for the day … when reacting to a situation, recognize the level of the event and respond proportionately. <lost car keys don’t fall into a level 50 category>. Thankfully level 50 events are much rarer than a level 7 or 8.
It is critical to recognize that when we do overreact to an event, there is an unnecessary emotional toll that is placed not only on ourselves, but on those close to us as well.
Our Father tells us … ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ John 14:27
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