What is a normal way to respond to problems? While this varies from person to person, sometimes our response itself creates and contributes to more of the chaos in our lives. Identifying a few key points may help smooth things along.

Overreacting to Life

Responding to life in a more healthy way is critical. We learn how to respond to the world from what we have observed our parents doing (or not doing). And we always move toward what we expect and know.

If our family was always in a crisis, feeling overwhelmed, and struggling, then we feel that this is the way we should feel.

  • When our family was always caught up in a “drama” and “uproar,” then we feel that to feel comfortable we have to do something to achieve the same “normal drama” in our lives.
  • When we find that our parents were always yelling at each other, at us, or at the world, then we tend to model ourselves after these behaviors.
  • When our family created a sense of panic, at times being there for us and at other times not being there for us, we continue to feel a sense of panic about “Will we ever be loved.”
  • When we note that one or the other of our parents are always codependently “saving” the other, taking care of them, putting up with the anger and upset of the others, denying their feelings, then we learn to do the same. Emotions “on a high” are fun, but they ultimately no nowhere!
  • When we learn that pain, suffering, tears, upset, being hurt, is what we observe our models doing in our early years, then we can never feel “normal” unless we in some way continue to reach out for relationships, and situations, that are painful – “sweet suffering.”
  • When our family “shuts down” all feelings and operate like “robots” who deny feelings, emotions, and only use “Vulcan logic” then we model ourselves after this and try to make others respond the same.
  • When “saving others” is the norm, then we search the land over to find someone to save, take care of, help to grow, and be “the diamond in the rough” that we can hopefully make into something.
  • Some people are just naturally just more dramatic, highly sensitive, and reactive, even without coming from a dysfunctional family. However, this can overwhelm you and others.

How to Restore Balance

You first have to admit that this is an inappropriate way of relating to others. You have to learn to live without drama and always having something happening – that is, no more “soap operas.” You have to tolerate uncertainty, not knowing how others feel and not always trying to make them “happy” or “nicer” or knowing how they feel about you.

You have to learn to live a more “boring” existence without the excitement of saving others or “solving problems.” Drama fills “the emptiness” you feel in yourself. You have to love yourself and realize that you don’t need drama to feel ok.

You have to know that you cannot save other people or change them. To do this, it’s important to stop thinking that others think and feel like you do. Stop being an “enabler and codependent” who does all the work, suffers all the consequences, having the other person not grow, while you end up being pooped and exhausted. You have to know that the person who has the problem (and needs you help) ultimately controls the relationship – not you!

You have to start to like yourself for who you are – not what you do. You have to stop looking to others to validate your feelings or sense of security.

You have to start to stand up for yourself and your thoughts, express them assertively, and draw realistic boundaries with others. You have to love yourself for yourself regardless of what others do or don’t do in your life.

You have to “tolerate not having control.” Let go and flow with it! You have to take risks and know that it is fine to risk even if it does not work out. You are not all-powerful. You are just you, and that is good enough.

Additional Resources

highly sensitive person
empath survival guide
highly sensitive parent

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