Can you tell when you are over-reacting? Over-reacting is a good signal that you are reacting to something else. Signals that you are over-reacting include:
• You just can’t stop thinking about something. You keep trying to think about something else but you always come back to rethinking the same situation over and over again.
• You always get upset (angry, teary, worried) when you are reminded about someone, someplace, or some event, even if it happened a long time ago.
• Anniversaries or other reminders of difficult experiences are difficult for you.
• You get physically uncomfortable (butterflies, tension headaches, pounding heart) when you need to talk to someone—often an authority figure.
• You get your feelings hurt easily.
• You have an intense reaction (anger, sadness, fear) because of something someone else says or does.
• You feel very judgmental in response to certain ordinary situations like traffic or others making mistakes.
These over-reactions are examples of your life energy being stuck.
When you were born your life energy was freely available and you used it to attach to your parents as all babies do. But as things happen you lose bits of it by using it to try to protect yourself when you react to problems. This happens to everyone because no one had perfect parents or grew up in a perfectly responsive environment.
These problems overwhelm you because you don’t have enough resources to manage them when they occur. That may be because you are a child and simply lack the maturity that comes with growing up—or you may have experienced a truly traumatic situation. In any case you need that energy back for other things now, but you usually don’t even realize that you left it somewhere in your past.
Letting Go Isn’t Easy
Life is all about attachment and letting go. We need attachment for survival and we need to let go for growth. You were attached to your mother with your umbilical cord and being born broke that attachment and allowed you to join the world as a separate being. Then your first and most critical task is to reattach in a new way.
Once you attached, you had to learn to let go. That is a hard lesson. When you learned to hold on to something—like a piece of furniture—you did not know how to open your hand and let go. So you stayed in one place and when you got tired you probably screamed until somebody came along and released your fingers. You probably then promptly pulled yourself up again and went through the same routine until you finally learned to let go.
This dilemma is repeated in all sorts of situations. Holding on to familiar people, situations, and beliefs feels safe and you are torn between trying to hold on and your natural urge to grow and let go. It’s tricky under the best of circumstances, and since those can’t always be available, every one of us runs into problems we just can’t solve by ourselves—and it is painful and scary for us. So instead of
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