How to avoid overreacting is an article written for all those who had bad experiences of overreacting and would love to avoid overreacting in the future.

Building up negativity and stressors

I was at work, doing a very easy fun promotion job. Cooking food and representing the companies healthy foods at festivals to the younger generations. Usually, we are working in a fun atmosphere, we eat, joke, and are having just a great time. But this one time I had to experience a person, who was obsessed looking at what I am doing and pointing out all the little “mistakes” I was supposedly doing in her opinion.  Just to mention a few:

“The oven is not hot enough.” – Yes, well it takes 15 min to heat up.

“Why does the food take so long?!” – Well, if the package says it takes 20 min, so it will take 20 min.

“You should have prepared all the food before.” – Right, the law says certain foods are not allowed to be sold after 2 hrs of being cooked AND needs to be served in a certain temperature.

She yelled at me “A waiting period of 5 min for food is way too long and not okay!!!” – For god sake, we are not McDonald’s here! Do you want me to warm up the pulled pork under my armpits?!

And I snapped!

I overreacted. I acted out of anger.

The first time in a very long time, a person got me to overreact and dragged me out of my balance. The other co-workers couldn’t believe it. Nobody has ever seen me get out of my happiness and balance. I always try to avoid overreacting.

After that negative woman tried to prove her point that she is still right, I mentioned that my work is none of her business. I pointed out in an angry tone that she should mind her own work results. After all, her job was to close new clients and she has closed NONE in 3 days while I have fed over 700 people. Just to make it more clearly, I compared her to another co-worker who closed 17 new clients in that one day while she had none. Well, and quite a few more very creative examples and words have made a journey towards her ears.

Of course, she did not understand my point. So, I dropped the discussion and kept doing my work while fully ignoring her.

My emotions were boiling. I was angry. What happened?

We all have access to truth and kindness in our minds. But this got buried under anger in that situation. I most definitely had no access to my frontal lobe anymore. I could not bring any kindness towards this person who was attacking me, talking badly about me behind my back and trying to bring other co-workers to her side.

How can we avoid overreacting surrounded by this toxic people?


After work, I had a 7 hours car drive home and I was reflecting on why I have reacted the way I did. This is very unusual. I mean, the full moon was coming up, hormone-time is on, but usually, I do not care about people’s comments like this. This time, it really got me. I try to avoid overreacting at all times.

After reflecting on the situation, I couldn’t find the answer right away. Yes, I could have told her in a mature way to stay out of my work and just do her own work. I could have banned her professionally out of the truck. Yes, I think there are some options which would have been more professional then telling her to get f***ed.

I probably could have avoided overreacting.

But then I started to ask myself:

What was the emotion I had, when she was asking me this questions and pushing her negative opinion about my work onto me?

I felt mistreated, insulted, criticized, threatened and there was no respect. I felt that I am doing something wrong, that I am not good enough for a simple job, that something is not right with me. I felt left alone and that somebody is against me. A feeling I had a lot in my life, especially in my younger age. It created anger and I acted out of a fight-or-flight mode.

Then I asked myself:

What was it that made me really angry?

It was the feeling of not being appreciated. All the effort and hard work I am putting in.

It is normal to have a strong emotional reaction to these situations. But I usually do react calm and controlled. So, I wanted to know more about where is this coming from.

Then I asked myself:

When did I feel this way in the last weeks?

And then it came to me. For weeks, I kept meeting people who were telling me all the things I am doing wrong or are wrong about me. And all the examples come back to me during the drive:

“You are too weak.”

“What’s wrong with you that you are cold?”

“You work too much.”

“You don’t work enough.”

“90 hrs a week of work and you want a break? Harden up.”

“This is too hard, you will never achieve this.”

“You are not a sportsperson.”

“You are too inconsistent.”

“Don’t you want to get a real job?”

If you don’t do what that person wants you to do… “You are so unreliable.”

For god sake! I do not care about your opinion! I have never asked for your opinion. I am happy with the life I live. I do not want nor do I try to be perfect for any of you.

There it was again. The angry emotion came up again during the car drive. I was so angry at this words. How can we avoid overreacting when you have this negativity around you?

And then I have seen it. It was time to stand up for myself and let them all know that I am doing the best I can. I live my life the way I want it to be. I am happy with myself and my life the way it is. Why do others can’t accept it?

There it was: The universe showed me that I have to draw boundaries in my life. Take back the control of my own life. To stand up and say: “Stop!” Stand up for myself.

Sometimes toxic people are coming into our lives to show us that it is time to change something. In this case, it is to stand up for myself, draw boundaries and say “STOP” or “NO”.

So, is there a way to avoid overreacting?

Why do we overreact?

I love to use this example of overreacting:

If you walk along a road and you stumble, you get a little shock and it’s a minor reaction. But now imagine you are walking at the edge of a cliff and you stumble, you will get a huge reaction.

And this is what happens when we are overreacting. We keep taking on stressors and negativity. Each time somebody tells us how bad we are, we are just ignoring it and pushing it aside. We keep storing these emotions over days, months or sometimes even years. We suppress our emotions.  And then when you can’t take it anymore, only one little thing needs to happen and then that’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.

We overreact.

Who or what gets us to overreact?

Stress and negative emotions which we store in our body till we cannot take any more.

In situations like mentioned before insults, mistreats and criticizing can evoke strong emotional reactions.  Research has proven that in a strong emotional state, we do not have any access to our frontal lobe, which is the rational, thinking part of the brain. In order to avoid overreacting, we need to connect to our frontal lobe.

What kind of people can bring us to overreact?

In my case…  other people who are unhappy with their own lives who are searching for mistakes in other people’s lives. People who do not know nor respect others boundaries. And then they mention: I just want to help you.

Do you know this kind of people?

Well, let me tell you one thing: These people will keep searching for mistakes and weaknesses in your life until they have found them. The funny thing is, it doesn’t even matter if it is a real weakness or just something that is a weakness in their opinion. Usually, there is so much damage to their own soul that they are too scared to look inside themselves. They see others mistakes and weaknesses as entertainment and distraction from their own lives. These are the people who are usually not even able to spend 1 hr in a silent room without music, tv or radio on. They do everything to silent their own mean inside voice. These people are often not ready to heal and need the entertainment from other people’s lives and need to create the negativity.

If you are surrounded by this kind of people, I agree that it is really challenging to avoid overreacting. But it is possible!

First of all, we should not take their words too seriously. Just know that you are happy with everything you are doing the way you are doing it. These are the toxic people we try to cut out of our lives. Just say:

I am not everybody’s darling! And I will never be everybody’s darling. I am perfect the way I am. I am perfect with all my imperfections. I love myself with all my imperfections.

Self-love is very important if you are surrounded by toxic people who keep insulting, criticizing and mistreating you. Take your power back and tell them to stop.

How to avoid overreacting?

When something really annoys you, it is important to get out of the fight-or-flight mode and get your frontal lobe back online.

  1. Before you react, take your time to calm down. Breathe deeply. I can recommend the use of the 5-7 seconds controlled deep breathing. This will help you to connect with your rational, thinking part of the brain.
  2. Do not suppress the emotion but experience it and allow it to be. Sit for a moment with the anger or hurt and observe how your ego wants to react.
  3. Know that the negative reaction options are not your only way. Feeling upset is a choice. You can tell the story differently to yourself and choose a more calm, mature and unselfish respond.
  4. Reflecting: Ask yourself, “What am I upset about? Why do I feel this way? What am I afraid of here? Is being upset the only way I can feel about this situation? How can I act with compassion, kindness and love?
  5. Leave the situation by choosing your mindset:  You have the choice of how to leave this situation. You can stay angry, be upset and keep telling everybody about this bad experience. By doing so, you will take on the victim role. Or you can know that you trust that your value is not on the line here, because life is a classroom, not a test. You are bulletproof and nobody can diminish you, is there really any reason to get upset here? Learn from the situation and move on.

Have you ever overreacted? Share your story below in the comments.

If you have any questions or would love to talk through your personal experience and challenge drop a comment below.