Why You Should Stop Saying "You're Overreacting"
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Politics and Activism

Why You Should Stop Saying "You're Overreacting"

This way of treating each other's feelings is poisonous, and it has to stop.

Why You Should Stop Saying "You're Overreacting"

I'll be transparent with you, internet: I'm a crier. I cry when I'm happy, I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I see a dog, and, most frustratingly, I cry when I'm angry. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult to resolve conflicts while appearing calm. For some reason, I have encountered people that seem to think that the legitimacy of my points and my upset is cut short as soon as my eyes start to water. I've started to notice a troubling trend in the way that conflicts are handled and concerns are addressed by a large chunk of the population. It seems to be very common to tell the person that is the most vocal and obviously upset that they are "overreacting". I understand that I am about to bring about some accusations that I am overreacting to the very concept of overreaction, but I don't care. This practice makes me extremely upset.

There is a quote from Louis C.K. that I think of on a weekly basis: "When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don't get to decide that you didn't.". The reality of the situation is, that while someone might seem like they are reacting in a more extreme way than you would, it isn't your place to tell them that. You're not their therapist, and you have no idea what kind of baggage a person is carrying around with them or how heavy it is weighing on them. People don't exactly walk around with "I have depression" written on their forehead, or a helpful button that says "Ask me about my PTSD". Don't presume to know why a person feels the way they do. Yes, there is such a thing as a genuine overreaction. For example, if someone sets your house on fire because you didn't give back the pencil you borrowed, that is a little over-the-top. However, if someone is just crying or upset when you think that they shouldn't be, that is absolutely not your call.

To all of my fellow criers out there who have been accused of being too sensitive: you are valid. Your hurt feelings don't invalidate you, and you aren't a bad person just because you don't keep your cool under stress. You aren't "overreacting", you're just reacting. This is me validating you, and validating your feelings. There is nothing wrong with being a little fragile sometimes, and everyone responds to stressors differently. Don't be ashamed of your vulnerability, and don't let anyone undermine your genuine hurt feelings with that lazy excuse. Your reaction is part of your unique human experience, and it is no one's business to tell you how to feel.

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