Leadership

Why overreacting is a bad idea and how to neutralize overwhelming emotions?

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Overreacting hurts us as much as it hurts the people around us. You may see overreacting as an unchangeable part of your personality, but in reality, this tendency, like any other, can be unlearned.

We are meant to experience acute stress, the short bursts that cause us to undergo a variety of physiological changes that help us navigate that situation. Unfortunately, with our access to global news and information, we are almost continuously exposed to stress, and our systems take it in—as if we were in imminent danger. 

What gets us into trouble in the realm of power is often our own overreaction to the moves of our enemies and rivals. That overreaction creates problems we would have avoided had we been more reasonable.

But the next time someone pushes you and you find yourself starting to react, try this: Do not resist or fight back, but yield, turn the other cheek, bend. You will find that this often neutralizes their behavior-they expected, even wanted you to react with force and so they are caught off-guard and confounded by your lack of resistance. By yielding, you in fact control the situation, because your surrender is part of a larger plan to lull them into believing they have defeated you.

In the battle of the intelligent against the brutal and the aggressive, the surrender tactic is the supreme weapon. It does require self-control: Those who genuinely surrender give up their freedom, and may be crushed by the humiliation of their defeat. You have to remember that you only appear to surrender, like the animal that plays dead to save its hide.

You want to train your brain not to overreact ? Here are seven ways that each of us can take charge of our stress response, accessing a powerful tool to take charge of our health.