Why we "overreact"

topic posted Thu, May 21, 2009 - 12:57 AM by  malene
I think, most of us have been accused of overreacting towards situations and relationships, and we blame it on the high sensitivity, that comes with the ability. But I have thought about another explanation, which makes more sense to me any way. The full explanation can be found here: (and I have linked to the specific post, so nobody should be exposed to the sometimes ehm.. expressive words I use)

I will try to give a perspective here anyway.

For me, it is so very important not to have clutter in my emotions. When I have clutter, I don't know how I feel about something, and when I can't put words to my feelings, I very easily risk being caught up in other peoples emotions. So emotional clutter needs to be sorted out. And it really doesn't matter how seemingly insignificant the clutter is, it just have to be sorted out.

To other people, this comes off as being an "overreaction", but in reality, it is just a normal reaction to an abnormal way of living.
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  • Re: Why we "overreact"

    Thu, May 21, 2009 - 1:13 AM
    "don't know how to feel in any given situation"

    wow that is ringing very loud bells for me.
    • Re: Why we "overreact"

      Thu, May 21, 2009 - 11:48 AM
      I over react many times, but I think it is the way I/we are wired. Being a sensitive empath, nerves singles seem to flow faster, so we also besides sensing more, come to conclusions faster too, and get impatient with those who don't. I also have a high IQ, damage but it still works fast, I have noticed that many if not lots of Sensitive Empaths also have high IQ's. I know IQ ratings are not everything, but they do give some data.

      I find thought as I get older, I have trained myself to not respond to others so much verbally, I think it, but do not say, but it has taken decades.

      And sometimes, being a Empath, I maybe more impatient and in someones face, because they are that type of person. I tend to morph others I am around, and have to be careful therefore, who I send my time with. And oh it gets fun when my wife is having PMS, I am more irritable and bitchy the she some times, besides feeling bloated and crazing chocolate or sweets.

      Back to over reacting, I seem to see everyone like myself, and that caused problems growing up, I thought others actually thought and felt like I did, and then I could not figure why I could not easily communicate with them, or kept getting hurt by them. It took me a long time to realize this, and then I kept forgetting.

      I found out the average person was really different and did not think or act in the same way as myself, I guess that only reinforced the feeling I must of been some alien dropped off here. When you see more, hear more, and understand more, it tends to make you frustrated and impatient with others, who do not..

      • Re: Why we "overreact"

        Fri, May 22, 2009 - 1:49 PM
        Yes! I think I *still* expect other people to react like me, and very few do.

        I have wondered about the intelligence aspect. I know that it is documented to correlate with depression and other mental illnesses...and I would not be surprised if this had a connection to empathic abilities as well.

        I am trying to delay my emotional responses considerably, until I have sorted out that which is mine and everything that I picked up from someone else. I wish I had figured this out sooner - I would have saved myself a lot of grief.
        • Re: Why we "overreact"

          Fri, May 22, 2009 - 2:21 PM
          From what I have learned, those with special gifts, High IQ's and etc , the nerve flow is much faster. I guess much l like our modern computers compared to the older ones. The problem is that I find, that with more speed, the more problems that can arise to cause problems. Germanic people are somewhat known for having a high percent of high IQ's, but with it comes dyslexia, auto immune problems and other neurological problems at higher values.

          The thing is, nerve flow is both electrical and chemical, and it only takes one part to really mess up the rest. You have neurotransmitters to carry signals across the nerves, and you have some to speed them up and slow them both as well. So you can get damage to the transmitting and receiving ends of the nerves, plus you can have a short of the neurotransmitters. When everything is in balance, all goes well, but if not fears, paranoia, claustrophobia, depression, obsessive compulsive behavior and etc. For some it can lead to feeling nothing and being a social deviant, and going for what you want, and not caring about anyone, but your self, steeling and or killing with out feeling and remorse, but of course usually compounded by traumatic abuse of some form.

          A study done decades ago, studying youth in prison in England, found a pattern. Diet played a bit part in mental health. The most deviant troubled youth were eating only fast food, junk food diets only, and were severely malnourished. For many, putting them a good diet, ended the negative aggressive behavior.

          We are so much, what eat and how we are treated when growing up.

          It is partially heredity, but I find that modern Chemicals and Vaccination are what has messed me up.

          Those of us who are wired for fast nerve flow, fall pray to most that does not bother the most very much at all.
          • Re: Why we "overreact"

            Sun, June 28, 2009 - 1:40 PM
            I am not going to "overreact" to your post David while I remind that its not just the Germanic peoples that have the potential for high IQs. There are Hispanics such as myself who are capable of this along with Blacks and Asians who also have the gift of empathy and are going through what everybody else goes through. Imagine having to deal with racism as well as empathy. Of course you feel for the subtle machinations of racism that is employed in overwhelmingly Germanic countries if you want to go there. My nerves don't react well to this. I spent most of college feeling very awkward without actually being such until one other girl and I put two and two together. She was a very smart person herself first of all. The second in her family to go to college. My own mother may not have a college education as such although she probably stopped at an early junior college route.

            The thing is, all emotional reactions must be controlled. In my family I find myself fending off people's emotional reactions that are designed to get me reactive. Of course we all know about this. You get blamed for your "reaction" even if you could easily blame someone else for their reactive behavior. Its all about the Central Nervous System domino effect.

            My point is that I've met plenty of people who are of color and are hard wired for both high IQ as well as empathy. Let's just say an empath could be everywhere you look but not even know why they react the way they do. Its all about education at this point both of self as well as others. Not knowing why your body reacts the way it does leads to psychiatric diagnosis of anxiety or depression because those fears you mention take over. Social deviants are people who have extreme shielding if you will. Or even on another further extreme, those born without emotions at all. I've had to deal with severe abuse. Even the psychic kind which some books don't get into. I think the empath community over all needs to build resources like codependency groups for us because of the way we function vs. the people who accuse us of "being too sensitive." Its like you could tell your boyfriend "hey pal, 'in one ear and out the other isn't the way it works for me, got it!"

            Then he may grow up a little because that's his own way of blocking out his receptivity to your pain. I heard that every other day in high school. You can't block out horrible acts of emotional abuse in Catholic school that way. Excuse me for thinking differently, for caring about you and in general being a different person. David, get yourself out of environments where there are people like you. Being the only one, the different one, is enlightening because you realize you are the same. I put myself through those experiences when I feel I can stand it emotionally, only because I've been the only Latina in a martial arts presentation (high school), the only Latina in a room full of x ethnicity, and I realize as I absorb, then ground it out because really, I haven't been taught by those who know about this, that we're all the same.

            There is a monopoly on learning skills to ground and center that prevent those very phobias or OCD behavior that you speak of. People tend to concentrate on simply the brain function, not the holistic approach that views family environment, social environment or even educational milieu as part of the causes. I carefully evaluate educational situations based on how I feel around the people. While some I do like, I have to start making decisions. Indeed, anybody's lifestyle decisions make or break your mental health. Fast food? Oh God, I go to Taco Bell every so often, wind up craving it, as well as with a pimple out of nowhere. I already deal with physical health problems due to emotional stress raising the "children" or I should say, my parents.

            You know, after studying the vaccine theory in more detail, I can say I've come to the conclusion via expert witnesses, hearing about Jenny McCarthy's son and how part of the cure lies in Jim Carrey being more involved than the son's father who got spooked by the autism, as well as my own careful but not exhaustive study. I'm saving the exhaustive study for graduate school where I may not have time to post because I have this tendency to take a full load. Oh and I could credit my society's work ethic with messing me up too besides chemicals. Taking it easy or taking only half a semester load is seen as not doing enough work for some people. I've even treated someone this way myself thinking, why am I saying that when its simply their style. I credit my current mental and physical health with making me the recovering train wreck I am today.

            Its not only family drama, my growing psychic experiences that remind one of what Babylon 5's psicorps can do, and my running joke being that my life feels like a cross between Babylon 5 and Telemundo (what with spoon bending just randomly happening.) My nerves are shot easily when I'm rushed out of the house. My parents act like they have no knowledge of boundaries since I am telling the entire Internet on Tribe at least that I feel like I'm fending off children. I have seen bizarre, childish temper tantrums involving hitting address books on the table. Its like, I have learned how to insulate myself from this reactive behavior although I am forced to teach them how to react with less stress. One thing I learned from a roommate in college despite her own reactive tendencies which led to a dissolution of that living arrangement: learn to control your emotions before they have control over you. It was something along with Effexor, that I was teaching myself how to do. My mother shows extremely poor emotional deregulation sometimes.

            I think I may have some idea that's abuse issues (sometimes I've really lost it although I live in a psychologically abusive environment to say the least), and of course, some kind of borderline personality disorder (traits).. or NOS or something. I'm no shrink yet, I'm just codependently focused on trying to find solutions! Always fixing myself eh, but she still does no work like go to therapy on her own insurance, claiming she can't afford it when that's total bull. Codependency groups are free. And with that David, I go toward my next post.
  • Re: Why we "overreact"

    Fri, May 22, 2009 - 6:48 AM
    What an apropos post...

    Of course, I just got in a huge argument with my boyfriend the other day, exclaiming, "I don't always know how I feel, because I feel bombarded with other peoples crap!"

    In the recent past, I've been much better at feeling peoples stuff at will. However, I've noticed when I'm PMSing or on my menses, I don't seem to have much control over this, plus the feelings are 10 fold! Ugh!

    I'll check out the link. Thanks Malene!

    Loving energy,

  • Re: Why we "overreact"

    Fri, May 22, 2009 - 9:51 PM
    I have to agree with everyone to some degree. David is right, our nerve transmitters go much faster than most which often leads to quick outbursts and subsequent arguments. Plus over time, we have built up defense mechanisms that kick in when certain familiar phrases are uttered. For example, "You're too emotional", "Back off, you're too direct", and of course the ever popular, "You're too sensitive" My husband can put me into orbit with "Just let it go in one ear and out the other"...Duh! If I could do that, don't you think I would?

    And yes, hormones added into the mix make us especially fun. But I have found a few strategies that help me a lot. 1) Write down the times of the month when you feel or felt depressed, unusually angry or impatient. When I recognize the depression coming on I now combat that with some high doses of natural caffine (like tea) because diet does play a big part.

    I also noticed I was craving more sodas, sweets and pasta, (high carbs) when I felt depressed. 2) By denying myself those three things and supplementing the herbal teas, it has really made a difference in keeping me feeling balanced. 3) In addition, I try to keep a regular cardio regimen, by walking 2 miles at least 3 - 4 times a week. You can choose any activity you like as long as you keep it regular. My walking made a huge impact on stopping myself from speaking too soon before I weighed all the information.

    Working on prevention tactics by recognizing the feelings and cravings has helped me tremendously. The key is to consciously stay calm as the incoming messages begin to jump start my emotions.
    • Re: Why we "overreact"

      Sat, May 23, 2009 - 2:24 AM
      You forgot, don't be so Paranoid, or negative. I used to get don't be so negative a lot. from some people close to me. The problem, is, we just see see and are aware of more. When I walking about, when I see something on the floor, and my brain says, better pick it up, so no one trips on it. Or I better put this sharp knife away or flip it other then edge up, so someone does not cut themselves, observances are seemingly endless. Between my ability to see and my highly creative imagination and discernment, I see the endless possibilities most time from objects and situations.

      It is like some annoying radar loudspeaker in my head, but it saves me a lot of pain, I guess it may be a protective mechanism built into us, it is just more up front and stronger in some.

      It most often works for situations too, I can see if I of someone does this, this will happen, knowing human nature and the persons past track record. You kick the info a side, when it comes to family, but later are not really surprised when it turns out exactly like you thought it would. We all seem to do it some, but it seems far more intact in Empaths and etc. I guess IQ enters in too maybe. I have taken tastes few times, for medical reasons, and one of test is putting cartoon pics in the proper sequence, with no words, just the visual actions. It is too, now most parents know what to expect of their children.

  • Re: Why we "overreact"

    Tue, June 2, 2009 - 7:35 AM
    I tend to see it exactly the way you said it--that it might be abnormal for everyone else, because they can't FEEL the actual emotions behind whatever it is that triggered it. But for me, that's normal, and I've come to accept myself this way, that this is the way I am, there's nothing wrong with me. I'm just different, and so the way I react to the world is different, simply because I feel it differently. I feel therefore I am I tend to say. Most people simply can't feel the emotions behind something. They can sympathize, sure, maybe they've felt something similar, but they can't actually feel that person's pain or sorrow like we can.
    • Re: Why we "overreact"

      Tue, June 2, 2009 - 7:38 AM
      oh, I forgot to comment on what you said about how you tend to react when you're full of other people's stuff. I can usually tell when I'm too full b/c I get overwhelmed very easily, like way too easily. But I still have a problem knowing what emotions are mine. But maybe that's because I'm full and I'm not aware of it. My empathy has grown more sensitive over the last year or so, so I'm aware at the same time that I'm feeling more than I used to. So I'm still trying to sort it all out. too bad this stuff doesn't come with an owner's manual. lol
      • Re: Why we "overreact"

        Wed, June 3, 2009 - 7:15 AM
        Yes, that would be handy.
        Although I think there are lots of advice for people, who have a spiritual perception of this.
        But some (myself included) just wants rational information to an irrational phenomenon, and THAT is really what's lacking. I have not found a single serious website for empaths, which does not include "shielding" or other equally spiritual concepts as tools for coping.

        I guess, to many people, there seem to be a connection between empathy and spirituality, but there are other explanations too, and it is such a shame, that they are effectively buh'ed out when mentioned.

        At any rate, I believe WE control the empathy, not the other way around. Having the perception, that it is uncontrollable will definitely make it so. If you focus on what makes you 'you', and you make an effort of expressing this, then there will be very little room for other peoples' emotions to take up the space.
  • Re: Why we "overreact"

    Wed, June 3, 2009 - 6:41 AM
    It has taken me a long time to get better at recognizing what's mine and what's not. Usually if I feel overwhelmed, like I have picked stuff up throughout the day, I can meditate or just shut myself in the bathroom for a while and sort it out. Unfortunately that doesn't work in public, in groups, at I still get confused in most situations. Sometimes I feel an emotion that really knocks me over, and never figure out where it comes from! Argh.
    • Re: Why we "overreact"

      Wed, June 3, 2009 - 7:03 AM
      You need to look people in the eyes, dear.
      I know it sounds insane, because the last thing you would want is to get that level of impressions. But it actually works.
      As soon as you can place an emotion with someone else, you can let go of it. When you don't know where it comes from, you can't place it anywhere but with yourself, but having an explanation makes it much easier to not take it in.
      • Re: Why we "overreact"

        Wed, June 3, 2009 - 6:00 PM
        I agree so much with Malene on her statement **"As soon as you can place an emotion with someone else, you can let go of it."** works too for me with empathing others physical complaints (that one is easier 'cause you can usually tell who is physically hurting - although not always). I don't think I could look that many people in the eye (if it was a full room). Just the thought of it causes my solar plexus to burn - maybe I could close my eyes and imagine looking into theirs?

        **"I guess, to many people, there seem to be a connection between empathy and spirituality, but there are other explanations too, and it is such a shame, that they are effectively buh'ed out when mentioned."**

        I'm with you on this one too, Malene. I don't see a spiritual connection to being empathic. Although I think we may be more drawn to the subtle world more simply because we resonate to what we 'feel/sense' more then just see. And then of course many things that are called spiritual are subtle forms of science that are now becoming main stream everyday. I think anyone can find a spiritual connection to the same depth as the next whether they are empathic or not - and many do.

        Why are we so reactive as empaths?
        Internally or externally? I'm very rarely externally reactive but quite so internally. I think a lot of it has to do with lack of trust of the self (and I also see that diet and lifestyle dramatically increase/decrease our nervous system balance). If we don't trust the subtle cues we get then we wait until they are screaming and at that point we then have a dramatic 'reaction' rather then simply subtle 'action' to subtle cues.

        p.s. my volume is definitely turned up during my moon cycle - be it feeling secure or insecure it will definitely be stronger.
        • Re: Why we "overreact"

          Wed, June 3, 2009 - 6:33 PM
          We are more reactive as Empaths, it is the way we are wired, or seems so. My nerves flow at a much greater speed,and like high speed electronics, tend to have more problems. Higher speed nerve flow, also can over stimulate our endocrine system organs. Organs in time become weaker somewhat, and over reactive in themselves too. All of this speaking from experience and what I have learned how my body reacts.

          Add into the mix, nerve damage to the sending and receiving ports between the nerves. Then add in, transmitter problems which control the nerve flows, i find I most often don't produce enough, which allows the nerve flow to flow even faster, then when it crashes, then not flow fast enough. I guess somewhat like a bipolar effect. High IQ ed people can have the same problem of erratic nerve speed flow, so put high IQ and Empath together, and it seems like double trouble.

          I find that Empaths and Sensitives seem far more affected by vaccinations and chemicals, which also cause neurological mishaps in the brain and nervous system.

          It seems that with these blessing and gifts, come also some negative side effects for some.
        • Re: Why we "overreact"

          Thu, June 4, 2009 - 1:12 AM
          It has actually been proven that dogs bite more in the period of full moon. Also cats and horses, but with dogs it is most significant. However, it is not know, if it is caused by the humans reactions towards it, or if the full moon affects the dogs as they do humans.
          • Re: Why we "overreact"

            Thu, June 4, 2009 - 1:08 PM
            I guess if the full moon can move tides, bring on menses and increase the population of the ER I guess it isn't that strange that it would affect our nervous system/ watery emotions.

            **" is not known, if it is caused by the humans reactions towards it..."** LOL, this struck me as funny 'cause I just imagined the dogs getting together and discussing, "Batten down the hatches the humans are going to go crazy tonight!"
            • Re: Why we "overreact"

              Thu, June 4, 2009 - 1:12 PM
              Haha, yeah...
              That sounds very "Gary Larson"-ish
              (if you don't know him, google him!! The funniest comics I've ever read)
              • Re: Why we "overreact"

                Thu, June 4, 2009 - 2:03 PM
                Yep, I use The Far Side when I need a reality check (if Calvin and Hobbs doesn't do it for me that day ;D
                • Re: Why we "overreact"

                  Fri, June 5, 2009 - 1:13 AM
                  I am not sure what energy the moon gives out, but I find my energy level goes up a couple days before, to couple days after the actual full moon. I notice far more road kill as animals are out moving around more. The moon seems to cause my body to have more energy, almost like being on chemical stimulate high.

                  The moon does strange things, I notice I am also more wired and moody on the last quarter, usually highly more horny too. I noticed that my sensitive step sons were usually irritated/agitated or even mentally exhausted or depressed on during the couple days before and after the last quarter. I notice the new moon does strange things too me, usually more energy, but not like the full moon.

                  Cop stories for the full moon. When I was in the Air Force, in Security Police in Taiwan. Full moon, was not good, usually the night brought the only bad auto accidents for the month.

                  I have read in books, that a few people into crystals had to put them in the dark and not leave them about their room. Because the moon and them was causing too much energy to be in the room. If they put them in the dark so the moon light could not get to them, they sleep just f fine.

      • Re: Why we "overreact"

        Tue, June 9, 2009 - 8:00 AM
        I actually find this to be very true. As soon as I recognize that something isn't mine, which usually comes with whose it really is, the emotion leaves me. But I also tend to think that I feel this stuff for a reason. I haven't figured out why yet, maybe it's to help that person in some way, if only to say a quick prayer.
        • Re: Why we "overreact"

          Tue, June 9, 2009 - 10:30 AM
          I think - and this is only my personal way of controlling the empathy - that you get the information, because you subconsciously find it relevant.
          Think of it the other way around, you want to help people. If only to say a quick prayer. :-)

          So you tune in on people, randomly searching for someone to help somehow. Subconsciously, of course.
          • Re: Why we "overreact"

            Wed, June 10, 2009 - 2:50 PM
            **"I think - and this is only my personal way of controlling the empathy - that you get the information, because you subconsciously find it relevant. "**

            I think so too. I call it matching frequencies. Sometimes it is something in me that I need to process and am triggered to do so and sometimes it's simply to feel the feeling of compassion/love. I know that I am not as knocked over by others "stuff" since I've worked through much of mine but I still have a lot of tracings of it so pick it up from others but in a softer way.

            I've noticed that there has to be some anger in me for me to get angry with someone who is giving on anger energy otherwise I would simply notice the intensity of frequency and clear it but not get so triggered by it.
            • Re: Why we "overreact"

              Thu, June 11, 2009 - 12:16 PM
              I know, what you mean.

              You could also say, that you see what you expect to see, but on a subconscious level.
              I am mostly happy, when I go to school, because I really, really love my school. And so I feel surrounded by happy, or at least positive people.

              But if I have a bad day, and that happens of course, then I tend to perceive other people as equally unsatisfied.
              That doesn't mean I am kidding myself half the time, but it is a matter of perception, and I guess we will always be able to affect other peoples moods (empaths or not), just be being and feeling.

              Just to say, I think you are right about the frequencies. That our own tends to attract that of others.
              And also in the personal conflicts, that it is easy to spot them in others, if you feel them yourself. Perhaps the same way as when a girl has just found out she's pregnant, and then suddenly she notices all the pregnant women on the street. But in an empath kind of way. :-)
  • Re: Why we "overreact"

    Wed, June 24, 2009 - 1:33 PM
    I can't say how many times I've been told that I overreact. Would it be considred OCD? In all my relationships I've always tried to maybe have some foresight and I try to prevent bad things that can happen. I'm overly sensitive and I know it. As a child I wondered why people were about to do things that I saw were going in a bad direction (that I thought was obvious) or said things that didn't match what they really meant. It really frustrated me and still does. I almost want to reach out and shake someone and say "DON'T YOU SEE?!"
    • Re: Why we "overreact"

      Wed, June 24, 2009 - 2:10 PM
      **"As a child I wondered why people were about to do things that I saw were going in a bad direction (that I thought was obvious) or said things that didn't match what they really meant"**

      That there sounds exactly like the confusion I lived with too. Husband has been tracking things and now tells me, "Don't berate yourself, remember there is a 3 mos. lag time between what you see as an obvious outcome and when others will realize that same outcome." And still I wonder, "Am I crazy? It seems obvious that A, B and C is leading up to D."

      Yet later I remember that we all see and react with different timing. I apply my brakes when I see brake lights go on in front of me and my husband waits until the last minute...but I gotta say, I'd trust him to drive in LA traffic over me, any day!

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