Monday, February 22, 2010

What to do when it’s all YOUR fault

This week, I’m dealing a lot with overreaction.

Mostly on my part, but others are in on it, too. More than once in the past few days, something has been said, done, seen, heard, muttered, hinted at, acted out or guessed at by party number one, and party number two (quickly joined by party number one) has lost their fuc*&ing mind.

Work, home, the bus, the phone, the internet. Doesn’t matter. It’s a global war on all fronts, people.

Meltdown, pouting, fighting, hurt feelings, resentment, outright sarcasm and arguing…in short, one-way tickets to RUDE CITY all around. (Yay! It’s a party!)

There’s been an argument, a time out, a “hang up” or fifty in there, hurt feelings, overblown drama, you name it. You get where I am going?

It all makes me wonder, what the hell is our problem?

I say “our” because it seems to be a universal experience. We all have triggers that activate nuclear meltdown phase, but why? What purpose does our initial reaction really serve us?

In the old days, the ol’ fight or flight thingy ma-bobber saved our club-dragging arses. But not anymore. Today, that “fight or flight” has pretty much turned to “fight” and it’s really not ensuring the survival of the species, it’s actually making life on earth much more difficult than God probably intended.

I’ll put myself, zits and all, out there for this one.

I overreact. There, I said it.

If I feel that you’re being rude to me (or my family members, individually or collectively), I get angry. I respond immediately and often harshly, without pausing to ask outright “What did you mean by that?” I’ll spit and stomp.

If we’re close, I’ll get my feelings hurt and probably pout. Just because I want to. Then I’ll overanalyze what really happened and turn it into a telenovela instead of the “simple moment” it really was.

If we’re not close, I’ll think you’re a douche bag for months and months and avoid you in public. Just sayin’.

Sometimes, I’ll even lose focus and forget the reason I got fired up in the first place.

But you can bet your sweet ass I’ll remember the emotion that was attached to whatever you did and I’ll carry it around for days. I’ll dwell in it. I’ll roll around like a piggy in mud in it. I’ll pack it up in my backpack and take it for a ride on the Anchorage bus system with me.

But why?

The hamster wheel in my head runs something like this: First, my feelings get hurt. (For example, I think, Why hasn't my so-and-so called back in two weeks?) Then I begin to imagine all the reasons she might be mad at me. (Was it something I said? Shoot — I forgot her anniversary and now she's upset.) Next, I get mad at her — and myself. (She always forgets my anniversary! Why am I worrying about this kind of nonsense?) After hours of circular thinking, I usually discover that nothing was wrong: My friend just got busy and didn't have time to call.

I consider myself a sane, logical person, yet I fall into this cycle again and again. What gives? I'm happy to report that genetics may be to blame — scientists report that sensitivity runs rampant in certain family trees. And I'm not alone: 15 to 20 percent of the population is thin-skinned. Greeeeat. Just what the world needs…more like me.

So what does all this mean? Does it mean I’m a big ol’ weenie who overthinks and has irrational bouts “what the f*($ was that supposed to mean”? Why yes, yes it does.
It also means that I (we) could stand to use a little re-training.

You know that very first thought that pops into your head when you think someone has done something worth getting angry/sarcastic over? Ignore it. No, really. Stop laughing. I’m not kidding.

Nine times out of ten, I’m pretty sure the other person had no idea and didn’t mean to call your dog fat or imply that you’re terrible with adverbs. I’m serious. Detach your damn self for one stinking minute and make it NOT about you and your poor little hurt feelings. Give it a try. I’ll bet your anger dries up now and then.
Supersensitivity stems from a place rife with ego and the “it’s all about me” syndrome. I can attest to that…but the hard truth is, mostly, it’s not about you. Probably not about me, either.

I’ve thought a lot about the crap over the past month and I really think that if I can learn to mentally “look the other way” and let the bs float on by, the quality of my life will improve by leaps and bounds. And more leaps. A couple more bounds, too.

Let’s just say what we are all are thinking at this point: I am a super hero of miscommunications. Ha!

So if in the past 14 days, you feel I have ignored you, insulted you, stepped on your toes, picked on you, not listened enough for your liking (or whatever I am capable of). I am sorry. Oh, and I forgive you, too.

Here’s to a fresh start, yeah?


  1. OMG YES. I am so super sensitive. I understand every word of this blog post. And as someone who is in the middle of a foot-stomping, silent-treatment-giving, full-blown overreaction, I desperately need that fresh start. And a big bowl of ice cream to make the hurt feel better.


  2. I take silence personally. If someone doesn't respond to me, I get touchy. I'll also get touchy if I feel like I'm always the one reaching out. No bueno.