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Overreacting vs under-reacting vs being proactive

McKinley Valentine — 2 min read
Overreacting vs under-reacting vs being proactive
Photo by Conscious Design / Unsplash

How can you tell if someone is overreacting? Well, first you would have to have a pretty robust and evidence-based understanding of both the situation itself and the best way to respond to it. Then once you knew the correct mount of reaction, you would be able to use that as a gauge for whether someone else was going too far over or under.

If you don't know all that, then you cannot know if someone is overreacting or under-reacting or just reacting.

You are just saying "my reaction is the right amount, based on gut feeling, and everyone else's gut feeling is off-base."

Secondly, being proactive is about taking action before something happens, instead of after (after = reaction). So being proactive will sort of always look like an overreaction, because it's a reaction to something that hasn't even happened yet.

But we all generally agree that being proactive is good, yeah?

I know it seems like I'm subtweeting coronavirus, and I am, but I am also talking about in general our tendency to think we know what the correct amount of emotional response to a situation should be, even when we don't know many of the details.

See also:

“Am I overreacting?” Excerpts from Dear Prudence
I read Daniel Lavery nee Ortberg’s advice column, and there’s a theme that comes up a lot in his answers: ‘You are not overreacting, you are reacting.’

This piece was originally published in The Whippet #93 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!

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