Emotional reactivity is described as having an uncontrollable emotional reaction to a stimulus. You may not realize your emotional language and reactivity because it can be deeply intertwined with how you’re accustomed to operating in the world. Maybe you’ve experienced feeling impulsive after someone cuts you off in traffic. Or maybe you’ve experienced a pull into an angry “red zone” when you’re feeling triggered in an argument with a loved one. Perhaps that feeling has led you to act or say things before your thinking brain can tell you how to process the information. This relationship, the one between oneself and their emotions, is a key aspect of healthy communication and relationships. When someone is emotionally reactive, clear communication becomes impossible because they’re overcome with emotion and not listening.
When you don’t have control over your emotions, you may feel like you’re always messing up. If you’ve had the experience of getting into an argument with a significant other only to feel like neither one of you is listening, you’ve likely fallen victim to the powerful nature of overwhelming emotions. As texting has become a default way to communicate, emotional reactivity has found new complications. And with texting in particular, emotional reactivity can leave you feeling abandoned and/or responding impulsively. It can be difficult to move through a problem when you’re blinded by your emotions. By learning how to manage emotional reactivity in therapy, you’ll be able to process things clearly and take a pause before reacting or acting impulsively.
There are a multitude of underlying issues that can contribute to someone being emotionally reactive. Trauma, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), a fear of abandonment, among other difficult experiences can deteriorate one’s ability to process emotions. At the Resilience Lab, our approach to therapy is unique and individualized. We will work with you to determine any emotional reactivity issues and any underlying diagnosis that may be contributing. Common modalities for the treatment of emotional reactivity issues include DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), psycho-education and skills training in order to better manage emotions and conflict.