“I mean who doesn’t know that the Rod of Asclepius is the sign of Medicine not the Staff of Caduceus? He was the god of trade and thieves!” I was furiously explaining to my friend how the Student Council president moved to change the logo for a more symmetrical pattern using the Staff of Caduceus rather than the already existing Rod of Asclepius.
He was sipping his tea, and looking at me with a concern.
“Bro, why do you always overreact to things?” — he asked me a question.
“What do you mean?” I asked, surprised.
“I mean no offence, but you do realize that it actually doesn’t affect you or your studies nor your responsibilities in the student council, right? You are simply overreacting to a thing, which in reality shouldn’t bother you at all. Who cares whichever the sign they use?” he said.
The question and the explanation took me by surprise, because I hadn’t had thought so. It made me realize that I’m simply overreacting to every emotion of myself and other people, often simple issues. I talk a lot, I express a lot, and involuntarily I say stupid things a lot. And later, I regret it.
It took me more than 3 months to find the correct way to avoid overreacting.
. . .
I thought the Silence was the answer
As any other sane person would, I thought silence was the opposite action to too much talking and overreaction. I had never been so wrong.
Silence only suppressed my feelings
I stopped talking — for hours, and it gave me temporary relief from the dramatic people and their drama.
However after a certain time of restrained expression, I realized my self-imposed bubble of silence had unconsciously burst and I was right in the middle of it, talking too much and overreacting to every petty thing around me.
I didn’t know how not to jump into problems and to avoid getting stuck in issues being unable to move away.
Then I tried Meditation
I had heard meditation is a great way to calm down the mind and control overreacting. So I took on one based on breathing exercises and spreading mindful joy.
Alas! While it definitely made me feel peaceful and be present at the moment, soon I found myself being an active member of the happening life around me when my meditation was over. That was frustrating. I didn’t want to be dragged into drama by other people or their emotions, because I was tired of overreaction.
Maybe the meditation works for some people, but I realized I would need at least few decades of practice in some Zen temple to achieve that spiritual awakening.
Finally, I self-realized Dismissal is the answer.
I realized I cannot avoid some of the dramatic people around my life, who would include my friends and family. However, I can actively dismiss the drama involving them, hence successfully avoiding overreaction.
Soon I found it works for me way better than shutting the bucket of feelings with a passive lid of silence or trying to freeze the contents of my mind with meditation.With the dismissal, I was throwing the whole bucket of feelings away.
Whenever a melodramatic event comes my way, I dismissed it. Rather than getting annoyed or getting triggered to quickly give my opinion on it, I learned to tell my brain “What use do I have with this? Let’s ignore!”.
‘Observe, Rationalize and Dismiss’ method.
Step 1: Observe
For example, does someone say something you don’t agree with? Do you have a quick opinion you want to throw into the middle of the room and watch what happens?
STOP! Observe first. What do they say?
Listen first. Watch their body language. Do they look defensive? Or do they look like they might be open to opinions? Because if they are not, even if you explain with all the good intentions, there is a high chance it would become a boomerang and ends up hurting you.
Step 2: Rationalize
After you observe, you have to rationalize. Try to look at their point and try to reason them out logically, even if they don’t make perfect sense.
This will make your opinion take a back seat. Because most of the times the other person in front of you has an equally valid opinion as you are, especially if the matter of concern is politically, religiously or preference roused.
On many of the other times, you will realize it is useless arguing with them because they are too into themselves or their opinions.
Sometimes the only thing we can do is to shut up and smile(but not defensively).
“Not everything need your input.”
Step 3: Dismiss
Now that your mind has calmed down and you realize there is no use of arguing or overreacting to a situation, dismiss the thought mentally.
You can smile or change the topic to relax the heat of the situation. But if the situation is too tense or you can’t stand the person, walk out in peace.
Walking out without having an unnecessary argument will save you from erupting a dramatic situation which you might later regret overreacting.
This also includes dismissing dramatic people from your life such as those who gossip, share hate speech, have narcissistic or pessimistic attitudes. Cut the ties with them, or reduce the attachments.
Maintaining online sanity
This is also equally important to keep the drama out of your life, to avoid places needing your reaction. Always think twice and thrice if your status, tweet or post will cause unnecessary issues down the lane. Once I shared an article about how dirty a particular ‘holy’ river was, and I was bashed and threatened by the believers which made me realize how important it is to think a lot before sharing things online.
Few places where it would be helpful to deviate from this method
A person shows that he is open to discussion
This is a time when you can intervene and discuss. And maybe have a fruitful discussion on different viewpoints. You might even earn a new friend or you might strengthen your existing friendship.
The situation is dear or dire and you need to intervene
This is the time you should say “Heck with it, I’m going to talk!”. In a dire situation, such as someone you know as innocent could be charged with a false claim of a crime, you need to speak up and help those who need it.
The situation could also be dear where you could be a turtle specialist and someone says the tortoise and the turtle are the same, or you could be a doctor and someone might say that the vaccines don’t work.
These are the times you could try to explain that the tortoise and the turtle are not the same, and the vaccines do work.
But be very polite.
Don’t use this method when you are threatened or in danger
When you are threatened or in danger, using this observe, rationalize and dismiss method will not be helpful to you as the aggressor will try to harm you even if you don’t initiate a fight or an argument. In such situations, always actively seek help, and use emergency calls like 911 if needed.
. . .
TL ; DR —
Distancing yourself from the melodramatic people and situations will help you to improve the peacefulness of your mind. Therefore schematically ignoring the tense situations will lead you to less drama, and more happiness in your life. Actively dismissing the tense situation in mind after rationalizing is the way that worked for me both in real life and online life.
Keep the drama out of your life, your future self will thank you for sure.
P.S. — And yeah, after a vote we went for the Staff of Caduceus, and then it seemed pretty symmetrical to me too.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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