Why I Overreact

Why I Overreact February 4, 2021

Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

We’ve all been there.  We were just going through the motions of a normal evening at home and one of us says something the creates a chain reaction of responses and, suddenly, we find ourselves asking the age-old question, “What Happened?”

I am going to try to simplify this conversation, not because of anything other than I don’t want to have to write an academic paper this early in the morning.

To make a long story short, we REACT because we have shadow material made of past trauma when we stuffed down what we felt because we couldn’t deal with it at the time.  For example, we went through childhood trauma and we didn’t know how to resolve it.  So, we kept a felt sense of that trauma stored within us because part of us still wanted to resolve itself.  But, when we are triggered, that part of us try to resolve the feeling with the same coping mechanisms from the earlier time in our life.

So, when Laura says something that is totally innocent, it could trigger a little red-faced boy that is really trying to resolve some past issue.  In my new book, Being, I talk about a crisis of great proportion like this.  It was one of the worst times of my life, but it also led to some miraculous healing and here is why.

Eugene Gendlin said, “What is split off, not felt, remains the same.  When it is felt, it changes.  Most people don’t know this!  They think that by not permitting the feeling of their negative ways they make themselves good.  On the contrary, that keeps these negatives static, the same from year to year.  A few moments of feeling it in your body allows it to change.  If there is in you something bad or sick or unsound, let it inwardly be and breathe.  That’s the only way it can evolve and change into the form it needs.”[1]

When we ignore or bypass trauma (even with modalities like meditation), we could possibly create more shadow and ensure that our trauma remains fixed.  But when we can feel that part of us that reveals that trauma, it can be allowed to evolve and change.

This is what we do with a process called focusing.  Laura and I help people feel what they are feeling so that they can experience genuine transformation instead of revisiting the same issues over and over.

We wish you well on your journey!


Be where you are, be who you are, be at peace,

Karl Forehand


[1] https://www.eugenegendlin.com/quotations

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