Reactions

I was told, not long ago, that I am prone to overreact, to turn every minor set back into a four alarm fire. I was told this by someone who knows me well and whose opinion about me I respect. I’m sure there is some truth to her words; there are six years worth of blog posts to support them.

I’ve considered my reactions more carefully since gaining this insight about myself. I don’t always manage to reign in my initial reaction, but I’m better at waiting before I share it or choosing to share it in a more positive way. More times than ever before, I don’t share things that bother me with anyone, and usually, after a few days or weeks, the issue recedes into the background.

I haven’t yet determined the overall affect of this change in my life. There are times when I feel more control over myself for holding stuff in, and there are times when I feel more lonely and isolated for not sharing.

But I think the most prominent effect of hearing those words has been a lingering doubt in myself and how I process things. I’m constantly wondering if I’m overreacting, if my feelings are valid, if others would be as upset about something as I am. It’s disconcerting to fundamentally lose faith in oneself like that.

In the end, I can only remind myself that feelings are my feelings, and I can’t control them anymore than I can control my thoughts. All I can do is change my self-talk and thoughtfully consider my actions. I’m getting better about that, but as always, I’m a work in progress.

Have you ever doubted yourself? Were you able to regain that lost trust?

3 Comments

  1. Doubt my self????????????? Hysterical laughter.
    I grew up with a verbally abusing older sister who I was told by my parents was perfect.
    I was taught from childhood on that self praise or achievement acknowledgement was boasting and wrong. (I am clearly older than the ‘promote self-esteem’ era of child raising!)
    I married a man, who after marriage, became verbally abusive and physically threatening and was So Very Angry when I finally dared divorce him.
    I worked in an industry where being a woman and not an engineer made my opinions and input less valued… even when I was repeatedly shown to have had the right answers faster than the male engineers.
    I tried to teach and raise my children differently … but, especially my daughter who is brilliant and wonderful and an amazing mother now herself, learned so much from my example rather than my words. It makes me sad and adds to my self doubt.
    DOUBT MYSELF? Always. Constantly. Totally. Regularly.
    Every time I post on someone’s blog I worry I will be misunderstood and rejected. What can I say? I am woman, a product of my American culture … hear me worry and doubt my value!
    You are so very much ahead of where I was at your age. You and your generation are my hope for female equality and confidence sometime in the future and for my granddaughters.
    And then I watch the Disney princess movement and the gendering of toys and attitudes and listen to many elected politicians… and pray for your strength and your votes.

  2. I feel like I’m constantly confusing confidence in my place in life, in my relationships, and misplaced entitlement. It’s an issue.

  3. For a long time I had a note stuck in my wallet that said, “first thought wrong” because usually my first thought IS wrong. If I wait a minute or five, I think it through and realize that my first thought was bogus and then I trust my second thought. These days that first thought happens pretty quickly and the second thought is usually right there a moment after my first reaction so it often seems like I’m trusting my first instinct but I sure don’t. I also think that many/most people don’t have this problem (maybe it’s more people than I think but it seems reasonably unusual).

    I also think that not being able to trust your assessment of the level of reaction a situation requires is different from not being able to trust yourself at all. It’s totally legitimate to react to something one way, but perhaps not to such a degree, and that doesn’t make your judgement wrong, just out of scale. Like if my kid skins her knee. She needs to have it cleaned up and a bandage if she wants it. Taking her to the ER is the right reaction (needs a bandage) but would be out of scale with the problem so the judgement was mostly right. I think that bit is important to keep in perspective. Don’t be too hard on yourself here either.

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