Why is it that some people react to situations with such peace and calm, while others make you wonder (or perhaps say out loud), “What is wrong with you?”
We all have the same built-in defense mechanisms and they are there for a reason.
They are designed to call us to action. Think of the fight or flight response. This is good thing. In the face of imminent danger—like a bear in our backyard or a car racing towards us—we don’t have time to pull up a seat, make a list of the pros and cons and evaluate the situation. The response needs to be quick and assertive.
But sadly, many lead their everyday lives in this fight or flight mode.
Think of a typical scenario that occurs while driving: One person cuts another person off. No one gets hurt, there is no damage to the car. Some of us will perhaps get startled, or mildly irritated, but recover quickly and keep on driving.
Some people will flail their arms, point their fingers, or let loose some curse words. (And maybe all three.)
But there are others that take it even a step further—they speed up in an effort to show the other person, “I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it!”
While many of us will blame the other person for making us react the way we do, I assure you, you are not defenseless. You still have control over yourself and your response is your responsibility.
But Kris, I feel like I am completely out of control and sometimes I don’t even realize that I reacted that way until after it’s over. That’s not uncommon for those who draw from faulty thought patterns and unproductive core beliefs.
The good news is, whether you try to lay blame on someone else, get annoyed, or get irate, there is hope.
Perhaps you will see some of your reactions in the list below and begin to understand where it may have originated from and what you can do about it.
- Explosive: You react in an angry manner when things don’t go your way or someone points out your flaws. While none of us like when things don’t work out the way we’d like, or when people point out our flaws, if you are explosive you are suffering from feeling out of control. It is important to submit yourself to the Will of God and trust that He has all of your needs under His control. If, you don’t give control over to God, He will allow you to continue to react to situations and people as you have in the past. And it will be the result of your choice not to submit to God.
- Annoyed/Irritated: Assuming there are no physical explanations or chemical imbalances for this behavior, this falls under the need to control as well. It says that if you are not in control of yourself and others, something must be done. This can also speak to a higher esteem of oneself than others. Remembering that we all have something to offer and giving esteem and respect to the thoughts and actions of others will greatly reduce this reaction.
- Perfection/Anxiety: When someone points out one of your flaws, or you make a mistake, you start performing some task to make the situation right. You may even react in an obsessive-compulsive manner to get back into good graces. Your reaction shows that you are trying to earn your way into acceptance and love. To help ease this reaction, allow God to show you how loved you are despite your flaws and mistakes. God doesn’t call and save the perfect and He doesn’t expect us to have it all together. He does, however, expect us to be humble. Anxiety is very prevalent when we try to be something we’re not.
- Conforming: Here is where you try to mold yourself to become whatever the person or the situation calls. You are motivated by a desperate attempt at approval—you will likely do anything to not feel rejected. God says we are not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). The only approval you need comes from God. In every day and every situation, ask God if He approves of what you are saying and doing.
- Retreating: We often think of bad reactions as the oversized ones that the whole world can see from a mile away. But retreating is another reaction and it speaks to the desire to avoid issues. Self-preservation is the goal at all cost. Please remember that God is your protector. We are called to be mild, but this does not mean cowardly. We are to stand in the face of evil and watch God fight our battles. We have to stand–not retreat, which will sometimes only perpetuate the evil being done to you.
Whatever your reactions are, they can be traced back to some core beliefs that may be buried deep. If you feel—or have been told—that your reactions to things are not healthy, it may be time to take a look at the reasons for your reactions. In my new book “Build a Beautiful Life Out of Broken Pieces” we take the short journey to understanding what your reactions say about you. Healing and happiness is just around the corner.
Remember: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)