Over-reacting to situations is sometimes known as making mountains out of molehills. The response is far bigger than what is called for. Consequently, the problem may be manageable, but by the time we over-react, we have a mess on our hands. Not everyone does this, and some people do it sometimes. However, others seem to use this mode habitually when stress and problems present themselves.
What causes some people to over-react? Sometimes it’s a matter of feeling unequipped to cope with even manageable issues. People may be dependent upon others to do so, or may simply not ever feel up to the task of decision-making and problem-solving. Sometimes, too, over-reactors don’t understand the exact nature. Sometimes it may be a way of ‘communicating’ to others that someone else needs to take over. It can also be the result of being already so overloaded with stress, that there’s no more room to stress. Anything more is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
The Basics of Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness helps us put some space between ourselves and our reactions, breaking down our conditioned responses. Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:
- Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.
- Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, we know.
- Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
- Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
That’s the practice. It’s often been said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.