Here’s an Idea: How to stop overreacting

The overreaction formula

We can look at the Salem Witch trials all the way to the internment camps following the Pearl Harbor attacks. I believe the uncertainty of not knowing leads to the fear of “what-if”. For example, we can take the simplest example of renting a car. You have a number in your head for how much to spend, but as you pick up the car, you consider the possibility of “bad drivers”, break-ins, and other liabilities that would cost you way more versus just getting a few insurance policies. All of a sudden, that number you had in your head is overridden by your fear of the unknown. Perhaps you want to avoid unnecessary paperwork or the hassle of dealing with an incident, but the worst possible outcomes you’ve formed in your head have led to this reaction. You’ve spent hundreds of dollars more but you’ll just simply justify it.

How to get out of this cycle

The question is now: how do I get rid of uncertainty? You only act when you don’t know something, and it’s worst when you start projecting your fears onto that uncertainty. Let’s take one of the biggest examples of racial discrimination through uncertainty and fear: Japanese Internment camps1.

Not easy at all

A blog post about a few tips won’t help with overreacting, just as reading about writing won’t make you a drastically better writer. But asking a few questions and answering them will allow you to step back and figure out the right pathway. It starts with a verbal commitment and since they’re your word, you’re more likely to stick with it. There are various methods to practice; writing it down, asking a friend to hold you accountable, practicing with situations that don’t mean as much, discussing it with others, etc. what matters is to just start.

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