What to do when your reaction is mountainously disproportionate to the molehill situation

What to do when your reaction is mountainously disproportionate to the molehill situation

This morning I woke up furious. I was furious about nothing in particular, and also everything, as far as I could tell.

I lay in bed pretending to sleep stewing on how my new naturopath had made me fill in a 25 minute online health survey and then not read it before our session so I had to repeat it all, nor had she read my test results that I was there to see her for.

I stewed on having a sore back.

I even found myself stewing on that time in a year ago that my friend made waffles

for all our friends with flour everywhere when I was staying at her place despite knowing how it would affect me as a coeliac. I stewed on how stressful it had been for me to make myself a separate breakfast from everyone else while trying to avoid inhaling any flour or putting down utensils on the bench (only a coeliac will understand).

I stewed on how many people subconsciously treat you like you’re being selfish or fussy for being a coeliac and ruining their gluteny plans.

Then I stewed on the fact that I was stewing.

And then I woke up.

But I was already awake. Instead I “woke up” to the fog of thoughts and pissed off emotions that had moved into my body and mind in the 15 minutes since I’d been woken up by Bloody Good Chap.

I was lying there in a fog, and then suddenly I woke up, realised what was happening, and the fog became clear.

This is what mindfulness feels like – a sense of clarity and peacefulness admidst the fog.

All that had really happened, was that I’d woken up feeling angry, for no reason at all. Since my mind loves to do what minds love best, he immediately did a sweep of our history to bring up possible sources of past anger, which in turn fueled the random anger that could have easily passed on its own. Before Neville interfered.

It’s been an angry week for me, for no particular reason.

On our Bloody Good Life LIVE Q&A call on monday I spoke about how when we don’t process old emotions in a healthy way (which very few of us are ever taught to do), we tend to shove our emotions into the cupboard.

Anything negative or uncomfortable that comes up, we cram it in there with everything else, and then turn our back to it.

But then, when something triggers us or subconsciously reminds us of the old unprocessed incident, all the dirty laundry of our emotions comes bursting out of the cupboard and suddenly we’re hurling abuse at someone in our head (or out loud, or at ourselves) with such venom that we shock ourselves with our gross overreaction to a minor situation.

And then we feel guilty about that,

as well, and then we shove it all back in the cupboard with a few extra bits of laundry.

I’ve come to believe that we don’t get away without processing our old laundry. I used to think that the old stuff from my past doesn’t bother me any more, and 99% of the time it doesn’t.

Until suddenly it does, and I’m crying my eyes out and using Bloody Good Chap’s giant hands as a punch bag for my frustration over something completely inconsequential.

My punches are so weak he thinks it’s hilarious.

When my reactions are disproportionate to the situation at hand, I know that there’s more old laundry to be done.

There’s only so much space in the cupboard, and if we want to make room for more pleasant emotions, we’re going to have to learn how to handle any of the dirty laundry that falls out, and any that gets added to the pile as we go through life.

My random anger this morning was probably just my body working through some old shit, and there’s no need for me to get too involved in trying to analyse it or shut it down. That would just be me shoving it back in the cupboard. Again.

The journey of my bloody good life has been about learning to address the dark, scary cupboard, and starting to spring clean.

After years of this now, the cupboard is feeling more and more spacious.

I’ve mostly stopped shoving anything new in there, and I’m working my way through all the stuff I put in there over the last 29 years.

I suspect I’ll be doing laundry for the rest of my life, but I’d rather that than getting buried under a pile of old socks every time I get triggered.

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Gidday, I'm Andrea

I'm a mindfulness advisor and former cynical pessimist.

I used to be an awkward, pessimistic, mediocrely happy overachiever.

Life looked good on the outside, but on the inside things were average.

I was indecisive, I didn't know what to do with my life, I self-sabotaged the hell out of my relationships.

I had a feeling I was going to keep f-ing things up for myself unless something radical changed.

The life handbrake-turn that followed over the next few years came as the result of learning what I now teach in Bloody Good Life 101. Just practical, relatable techniques without any rainbow and butterfly jibber jabber.