Overreaction is a label that can cause problems for you personally, as well as problems in your relationships. This word is often used as if it were a fact. We’re all guilty of having done this at some point in our lives. However, we’re the ones who typically pay the price for using it. When using it, we get ourselves angry and frustrated, and we’re less likely to go to a place where we can negotiate and build on our relationships.
When calling something an overreaction, you need to recognize that this is your own personal label of someone’s behavior. This doesn’t mean that the other person’s behavior is likeable or even appropriate. However, you’re not going to best be able to address a particular issue you have with another person unless you first walk away from your own judgments enough to understand where the other person is coming from. As a result, you won’t be able to effectively communicate what you want. Instead, you’ll avoid the person, insult him, or lash back out in anger. Thus, rather than calling it an overreaction, look at it as simply a reaction to a possible valid point.
If you’re addressing a reaction that’s a violation of your personal boundaries (i.e. domestic violence or other types of abuse), rather than labeling the behavior, it’s best to create a plan that will keep you from entering into this situation again in the future. In these more extreme situations, calling something an overreaction creates a mental “perpetrator-victim” mindset that will prevent you from reaching a place of contentment about the situation. It’ll also keep you from planning in a way that will help you create healthy boundaries, rather than overly rigid ones that will prevent you from having future, reciprocal relationships with other people.
So the next time you catch yourself calling something an overreaction, remind yourself that it is a reaction only. Rather than labeling it at all, figure out what it is that you want, and the best way to communicate that. If it’s a situation where your safety is at risk, create a plan to keep yourself safe, and maintain your boundaries in the future. Take responsibility for your part of the issue, and allow the other person to address his part, and accept that he may not want to at all. With that, you’ll walk away feeling much better about yourself and your relationships will benefit from this as well.