Existential Psychology

Getting Over It Quickly

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When we feel our rights have been trampled upon it’s natural to get upset, but many of us let these feelings linger a lot longer than they need to. Also the provocation is usually pretty insignificant for such intense and lasting emotional responses. Think for example of the guy getting cut off in traffic who slams on his horn, rage on his face and murder in his eyes, swerving around the supposed perpetrator with middle finger raised as he speeds off towards the horizon. This might not be the perfect example because there’s more going on psychologically with road rage than meets the eye but the point is that a small incident affects this guy more strongly and for a lot longer than it should.

A key to well-being is getting over it quickly, a strategy that sounds so simple in theory but can be really difficult to implement in practice. Many of us hold onto resentments for years, decades, even lifetimes. We think we’re somehow hurting the people who hurt us by holding on to these negative emotions but we’re only hurting ourselves. Negativity and happiness are incompatible states, not to mention carrying around that emotional burden is hard work.

The best place to start if you want to increase your well-being is by deciding to quickly get over small provocations throughout your day, those annoyances and inconveniences that usually get you riled up. Tell yourself in the moment that you have the right to be upset about them but that you’re only hurting yourself by continuing to carry these feelings around.

It’s usually narcissistic pride that makes us hold on to resentments. We think to ourselves “How dare she do that to me. Does she even know who I am?” This type of egocentricity is why letting go of negative feelings towards others can feel on a deeper level like betraying ourselves. But in actuality letting go is affirming ourselves. It lets us get back to living our lives based on the authentic internal striving to grow, not based on unpleasant stimuli from the environment largely outside of our control.