Have you ever had an emotional reaction to something that seemed over the top? Have you been accused of "freaking out", or accused someone else of it? Do you wonder why you become emotionally intense at some times versus others?
Whenever we have emotional reactions that are out of proportion to the situation, we're usually reacting to something else rather than the present situation. And it's usually something from our past that we haven't dealt with properly or completely.
A client shared with me her anger, fear, and sadness when her husband called to tell her he'd be late from work. She even drove to his office to see if his car was really there. She admitted that she had no reason to distrust him, but her emotions were so intense that she felt "crazy".
Another client tells me he wants to have more friends and be more active, but he feels paralyzed with fear when he imagines meeting new people. Although he seems to be an intelligent person with a great sense of humor, he has terribly low self-esteem and can't seem to get past it.
In both cases, with a little questioning, we discovered old wounds that had never healed. The female client acknowledged a previous boyfriend who'd lied to her repeatedly, and she was left feeling foolish and embarrassed. In order to not appear "weak", she brushed aside her pain and sadness and moved on to the next relationship. She'd never fully experienced or processed those emotions.
The male client revealed he'd had a painful childhood in which his father was emotionally and physically abusive. He never received proper help as a child or adult for the emotional and mental damage those experiences caused, and he was left feeling insignificant, worthless, and afraid of rejection.
When you react emotionally and intensely, ask yourself:
1. What emotions am I experiencing now?
2. When have I felt this way before? What's familiar about these emotions?
3. What am I telling myself about this experience/situation?
4. Is it supported by the facts?
This is a simple and often enlightening experiment to help you identify the source of the emotion and begin the process of healing old wounds.