How to Avoid Overreacting and Acting like a Juvenile

By Alex Shalman

March 24, 2009   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Looking retrospectively, I’ve made plenty of social errors by saying or doing the wrong thing. Overreaction would be an understatement and I’m sure you can relate this to some situation in your life. The point isn’t to dwell on these facts, but to learn from them and move forward to being a better person — to mature.

By no means is this a complete list, as social interactions can occur in an infinite amount of configurations and possibilities. However, let’s look at the general ways to take control of our thoughts so that we don’t cram them into people’s ears, don’t make people wrong, don’t use inappropriate force, and don’t make people feel worse for crossing our paths.

10 Ways on the Path to Not Overreact

    1. Say Nothing
      I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” It’s simple, safe, and priceless when it comes to avoiding saying the wrong thing to someone. 
  • Write it Down
    Instead of blurting out a comment or criticism, we can write it down, and revisit it in a day, and again in a week. This allows our emotions to cool and for a decision to be made based on logic. 
  • Cool Off
    Sometimes people get to us, especially the ones close to us who know our ‘hot-buttons’, which they press liberally and amply. Lashing out won’t exactly bring the two of you closer, or make either of you feel better (not long-term better, anyway), so cool off and come back. 
  • Don’t Correct
    When someone is wrong, is not always necessary to correct them, especially when it could cause them embarrassment or discomfort. In such situations, it’s better to not say anything and let them save face, and not create tension. 
  • Uplift and Encourage
    Instead of pointing out the negative in what someone is saying or doing, strive to find the positive things about them. Uplift them by letting them know what you like or admire about the situation. 
  • Appreciate Them
    Someone might be wrong, mean, or totally unfriendly, but you don’t have to base the way you’re going to be, based on how they’re being. Appreciate that some experiences made them the way they are, in the same manner as certain experiences shaped you, and appreciate them for it. 
  • What Would They Like?
    Ask yourself this question when formulating your response to someone. Instead of putting in your 2-cents, whether right or wrong, put in the answer that will bring a smile to their face. Today is too short to pass up any smile opportunities. 
  • Don’t Judge
    Stop the machine in your head from trying to relate what people are saying to something you know to be true or not true, or evaluating their actions based on this subjective scale. Simply listen and be in the moment. 
  • Learn
    You don’t know everything… right? Take this opportunity to learn from the people around you. Whether it’s what they’re saying, how they’re saying it, how their body language or word choice enhances their message, and learn. Take what you like about them and make off with it like a spy! 
  • Life is a Game
    And, as such, we have to figure out the rules by which to win. An important one states that the more people we have that are friends, and think positively of us, the more chances for fulfillment and enjoyment we will have in our social interactions. Thus, be nice – win at life.

This list doesn’t do justice to all the different ways that we can react in a positive way to people. I’m hoping that you’ll be able to help by filling in some of the ways that you would react, without overreacting or coming off as a juvenile. See you in the comments below!

P.S. Don’t send this list to people you think are overreacting. That would be in bad taste and would go against principles 4 and 8. Instead, you could say something like, “you know, I’ve had a big problem with overreacting, and this article showed me that I do x, y, and z. I recommend it so you can learn something about me.”

Written on 3/24/2009 by Alex Shalman. Alex does for personal development what Chuck Norris does for the world, and he’s got a very bad (to the bone) Podcast on self-improvement. Photo Credit: ckaroli
Alex Shalman

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