How to Interpret Overreactions

"Yaaargh!" he shouted.

I never expected that sort of reaction when I gave my friend a warm greeting and a little pat on the shoulder.  I expected him to smile and greet me in return.

Instead, his eyes bugged out and he yelled, "Yaaargh!"

At that moment, I had accidently hurt him.  He had shoulder surgery the week before, and the painful mending was just beginning.  I forgot -- and remembered too late.

My small pat, intended in kindness, cause severe pain.

The problem wasn't with the pat.  It was with the wounded shoulder.  Normally, a pat like that expresses friendship.  This time around, to him, it felt like a declaration of war.

And here's the lesson from the painful misadventure.  When you touch a person where they are hurting, you're liable to get an overreaction.

Have you ever wondered why some people erupt unexpectedly?  Have you experienced someone flying off the handle over something small?  Maybe you shock yourself by how upset you respond to certain people and
stressful situations.

The little issue isn't really the issue.  It's the pain beneath that causes it.

Once, a high school principal heard a loud commotion in the teachers' lounge and went to investigate.

A frantic teacher stood before a bulletin board displaying the staff's new year's resolutions tearfully shouting, "Where's my resolution?  I demand to know right now!  Where is my resolution?  Why does everybody
hate me?  Why did you leave me out?"

"I have no idea what happened," the puzzled principal replied, "I'll check."

He went back to his office and found her resolution on a card, which had been inadvertantly misplaced.  He smiled as he read, "I will not become upset over small things."

But the sad truth is, she will continually be upset over small things until the deeper pain is healed.


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