Have you ever listened to someone give an account of something that happened and is upsetting them, and the more they talk, the more over-emotional they become?
But even more importantly, the more you listen, the more removed from reality their ‘story’ becomes?
This is what I call in my book “over-emotionalizing”.
One strong emotion triggers another which triggers and another and so forth. Even for people who say “I over-analyze”, if you listen to them narrate their experience, you hear very little “analyzing” and a lot more “emotionalizing”.
I sometimes have to force a client back to reality by asking tem to state the bare facts (what happened, who said what) and reassure them that later we’ll talk about their feelings about what happened. This is to try to force them to use the logical and rational side of the brain.
But even that sometimes doesn’t work because they can’t tell apart what is fact (what really happened) and what is their feelings about the facts (the story they’ve told themselves happened). Some of them are angry and/or hold resentment because of things they think happened but don’t know for sure if what they think happened did actually happen, or happened the way they think it happened.
How do you know you are “over-emotionalizing” your break-up?
1. You ex doesn’t want to talk to you (about the break-up)
If every time either your or your ex brings up the break-up, you get so emotional that you have to end the conversation, or the conversations quickly degenerates to an argument, yelling, insults or name calling, chances are you are “over-emotionalizing” the break-up. To your ex you come across as emotionally unhinged (the “emotional” or “crazy” ex), and you probably are.
Human beings by nature can handle only a certain amount of emotional intensity. Too much emotional intensity drives even the most sane person “crazy”. Most people naturally try to ‘protect’ themselves from emotional intensity by emotionally shutting down (not responding or ignoring) or physically distancing (asking for ‘no contact’) from the source of the emotional intensity.
But since you are the source of the emotional intensity, you can’t physically distance yourself from yourself. You can try to emotionally “shut down”, but emotions being a force of energy will find a way out, whether you let it or not. The more you try to put a lid on them, the stronger the counter-force. Something will have to give.
2. Others don’t want to talk about your break-up
You also know you’re “over-emotionalizing” the break-up when friends, co-workers, relatives and even strangers are tired of your “break-up story” or of listening to you try to “understand” what happened.
You start tell your story and people around you suddenly have “other things” to do, or plain out ignore you. You post your break-up story on forum after forum and no one responds. You see other people getting advice or support, but for some reason people ignore you.
The problem with over-emotionalizing experiences is that it removes you from reality. When trying to get back your ex, you can’t afford to work from made-up reality.
I saw this with too many of my clients: conversations quickly deteriorate to arguments and worse, and whatever they try to do is met with resistance or doesn’t go anywhere because their emotions are running the show. I kept telling them, try not to talk about the break-up, but somehow they just couldn’t do it. So I wrote It’s Just A Break-Up to help deal with the emotions while you try to get back your ex.
At the end of the day, if your ex refuses to talk to you because he or she is afraid that you’ll emotionally overwhelm them, or refuses to talk about the break-up because your recollections of the relationship and the break-up is not a reflection of what really happened, nothing will work.
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