Why is there such a range in the way people react to events and situations? How is that one person can take things as they come while the other gets emotionally dysregulated and goes into a tailspin? Much in the way we respond comes from earlier experiences but if you break it all down, it’s about the meaning we attach in that moment.
For example, let’s say Susan and Jill are two people who don’t know each other but both have a similar experience of interviewing for a job and not getting it. Susan feels rejected, like she’s “not good enough” and worries incessantly. Jill is disappointed but considers the possible reasons why this happened (having nothing to do with her personally) like there were many applicants, it just wasn’t the right fit for her skill set – and she does not internalize it negatively as Susan had. Susan has a much more difficult time brushing it off and moving forward. Jill accepts the situation and moves on, continuing to look for other employment options. It appears that Jill is more resilient than Susan – but the good news Susan can learn to “dust herself off” too.
This is what you can do: People who react more negatively than others to things often have good reason. There is likely a history including self doubt and possible family of origin or other emotional wounds. Get familiar with your vulnerabilities and strive to make change. In situations where you are triggered like this, stop and do the following: 1) Get grounded by breathing slowly and focusing on the air moving in and out of your lungs, 2) Remind yourself that you have a sensitivity and practice self-compassion, 3) Explore other possible reasons for things turning out in the way they did.
In my Marin therapy practice, I help people understand why they react the way they do – and collaborate in making lifelong change.