Victus Spiritus


More Mellow, less drama

22 Sep 2009


Action Trumps Reaction

False perceptions of negative consequences are an integral aspect of overreaction. Take for example a failed business venture.

By the way, I'm no psychology expert and have never experienced this particular financial disaster. But since I write as much for myself as for anyone else, these thoughts are helpful to keep things in perspective when I freeze up.

You can sink thousands of hours and your family's savings into a business that goes belly up. Instead of giving in to self pity and despair, consider the resources you have available.
1) you still live and breathe
2) you've learned invaluable lessons that will aid in future business attempts and other forms of employment
3) you will be highly motivated to find immediate income, so leverage your recent experience and discover a position that furthers your knowledge growth
4) you've gotten over the worst hurdle to building an organization with long term value, the fear of failure. By experiencing the worst case of risking your time & energy on a venture you are free from torment by imagined fears. You know exactly what is the worst case scenario, you've lived it.

When I become frustrated I'm more prone to react without consideration. This is a destructive feedback loop, and the strongest method to break the cycle is to recognize it. I question my motivations on a regular basis, "is this the best course of action at this moment?" True friends will help guide you in your most blinded moments, allow your trust in them to clear muddled vision. In an angry or excited state listening is impossible. The very act of listening can help snap you out of a frustrated state.

I'm not recommending that we all become emotionless automatons. There is a great need we share for deep social bonds, and feelings and honest emotional response are inseparable to meaningful connections between people. There is a constructive outlet for our urge to over react, using it as a motivation for well thought out and positive change. Our emotions drive us past limits that we assumed were impassable. If we are passionate enough about change, we can even instill those around us with renewed purpose and energy.

How can we help?

You can't order an agitated person to Chill Out, it's not an effective method to sooth an excited situation. Give them space to calm down on their own terms. In extreme cases protect them from causing harm. If they need you to listen to their ranting, lend an ear. Listening is the most powerful and effective means we have for helping to resolve an exasperated situation.

Recognize repeated over reactions, or people that feed off of melodrama by seeding it in others. These folks are ill, there's no way your attention can help guide them towards a healthy direction. Be direct and honest about your perceptions, it's likely their own self torment is manifesting in a form of sadistic relief. Misery loves company, but if a person can see past their own blinding pain long enough, they may yet discover a more mellow path.

There's no way a single voice can inspire mellowness in a society polluted with melodrama (news). But if I can at least remind myself not to feed into the problem it's a solid first step.