You’re breathing. That’s about it for today’s productivity? Good enough. Did your heart just start beating faster, or is your breathing shallow now? Do you feel sick to your stomach, or are there a host of butterflies flying around in there? Feel like running away, or perhaps punching a piñata? Well, after all, you know it’s all his fault. You judged her and you are convinced that you are the victim in all of this. When you find yourself overreacting or lashing out in anger, you may have been touched off or triggered by some emotion that you now seem to be at the mercy of.

We all get “triggered” by something. Some of us even get triggered by “trigger warnings.” What sets you off? Do you even know? The number on the scale? Speaking of which… the best measure of a man’s honesty is not his income tax return. It’s the zero adjust on his bathroom scale. But I digress.

Perhaps you are agitated about the unending and latest “Rona” update. Reality just called, so you hung up. I don’t blame you. Whoa, those sensitivities can sure bring out the worst in us at times – if we let them. She just made an innocent comment, and you blew up. Something really small and insignificant happened, but you had a really mega, mammoth response. What to do?

First things first: Pay attention to what made you uneasy, uptight, or antsy. Believe it or not, it is usually something that reminds us of our past. “I hated when my mother did that.” Or: “Here we go again.” And now it feels like they just jumped up and down on your last nerve. Ouch. She just said the only exercise you did this month was running out of money? Yikes. You feel insecure about your looks, so the slightest comment or attempt at humor, and that self-consciousness comes flooding in. You doubt yourself at work, so the vaguest remark from your boss sends you reeling.

We all have unrealistic expectations. And so ends another week without me becoming unexpectedly rich. Dang. What are some of the unhealthy ways you cope with intense or distracting emotions? Do you bottle it all up till you either break down or lash out? Getting upset by her actions does not give you a “Get out of Jail free card.” Sorry. You are not a victim of circumstance and you always have choices; even if it just a choice of attitude.

Please recognize that you do not have to give these irritations and vexations power over you. You feel yourself heating up. Please just call a STOP. Pause whatever you are doing or about to do and take a few deep breaths. Do not allow yourself to react on autopilot. The healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your loved one is to stay in the moment. Live in the present. If you grew up in a household that was loud and chaotic, you may get upset whenever people around you argue. Please do not allow those feelings to spiral into behaviors that hurt you or others. You are here now.

You know that man invented language just to satisfy his deep need to complain. Sheesh. Are you truly not in control of your reactions to things or people? How would your life look if you believed you were? Start by noticing that you are having an emotional reaction the second you feel it in your body. And trust me, you will. We must become aware, sweet friends. Self-aware.

No need to be afraid or to judge your feelings. Just own them. You most likely expected something and did not receive it. Perhaps you feel a loss of acceptance, value, love, or even the need to feel understood. Some of your acute needs may have no emotional charge for someone else. But we humans all have unmet needs, whether we are aware of them or not.

The magic is to choose what you actually want to feel and what you can do to make that happen for you. Pick one word to describe what you truly wish to feel and breathe that word in.

Create a space between an event and your response. The more you understand yourself, the easier it will be to make the changes you need to make.

React first, think later? Uh, oh. You got that backwards. Always reflect before you react. There is no reason why your mental well-being or relationships should suffer, sweet friends. Once you learn how to identify your hyper-sensitivities you can refrain from irrational, impulsive responses. You will know when you feel emotionally threatened. And once you do, you can grab the steering wheel before your BMW crashes. By the sway, what does BMW stand for? Breaks my wallet. Lol.

Take me, for instance. Three times a week I can say to a loved one: “When you forgot to take out the garbage, I thought that meant you don’t care about me.” Then again, during this “CV pandemic,” you’re itching to take it out. You say: “At long last it’s Friday – that’s garbage pick-up day – I can finally go out.” Woohoo. Of course, there’s no better time to postpone what you don’t want to do – other than right now.

If a friend or loved one hurts your feelings by his or her actions, please say: “When you did that, I thought it meant you don’t care about me.” Nine times out of nine, it meant nothing of the sort.

It was once said: The truth is that everybody is going to hurt you. You just have to find the ones worth suffering for. Stay the course, my friends.

Even during a pandemic, guess what? The most contagious thing is still your smile.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at