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SuperMouse's avatar

Is it possible to help someone who takes everything very seriously to lighten up?

Asked by SuperMouse (30809points) May 9th, 2012

I’m taking about someone who has kind of a tough time rolling with the every day annoyances life dishes out; things like running late, missing a bus, being out of coffee. Someone who is driven to distraction by these kinds of things and can see an entire day derailed by stewing because breakfast was cold. Any suggestions as to how someone can help a person in this situation learn to take things in stride a bit more?

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18 Answers

Trillian's avatar

Does the person want help? In my experience, unsolicited advice is generally unappreciated and untaken advice.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Trillian yes I believe so. This individual’s life experience has caused them to be in fight or flight mode most of the time. Now they are safe and know it is time to try to let go of that mindset.

tom_g's avatar

Meditation helped me a ton. I realized that much of my discomfort was just a delusion. First of all, did not being out of coffee improve my day as much as being out of coffee would ruin my day? Did the joy of making the bus match the intensity of the stress of missing the bus? As a logical thinker, I’m always on the lookout for glitches in my thinking. This was clearly one. It is a type of confirmation bias.

So, once I was able to develop some level of mindfulness and get a glimpse into this process, I really found that my discomfort was really a result of just not accepting things to be the way I wanted them to be. But since life doesn’t work that way, my approach to life was indistinguishable from a toddler who was having a tantrum because I wasn’t having all of my needs met at every moment.

EDIT: I’m going to have to run shortly, so I’ll try to come back and finish my thoughts on this later….

boxer3's avatar

This sounds like my ex boyfriend.
I mean, sometimes I found I could temporarily help, and talk him down-
but that was his nature, to fly off the handle at the smallest thing,
and really- he didn’t want help, and he is still the same.
He didn’t seem to think he overreacted so I think it depends on the individual.

Cruiser's avatar

I would think they are missing some positive elements in their life. It is hard to see the trees through the forest when oppressive crap keeps beating you down a notch and is a very hard cycle to break without a few positive changes in their lives. Getting out and away from the routine is HUGE to seeing and experiencing life as it should be….simple. Walks in the woods, gardening, coffee outside at a bistro or in the yard. Keep things simple when you can so complications do not interfere. Also a bit of a reminder to not sweat the small things can shine a light on that things are not as bad or difficult as it might seem.

Sunny2's avatar

Sounds like they consciously or unconsciously predict and have expectations of what things should and will be. Then they have a temper tantrum when it’s not like that. I think talking to someone, a therapist, an older relative, a religious counselor could help. I don’t think, on the surface, it’s a difficult problem.

tom_g's avatar

Ok, have another minute or two.

First, I meant to say above (typo) that I really just didn’t accept things the way they are.

Also, because I was habitually complaining and ruminating about “being out of coffee”, I was multiplying my suffering. First, I was out of coffee. Now, I spent the next x minutes/hours suffering because I was out of coffee. Same with the bus. But what really made the difference for me was the fact that I suddenly (with a little help from meditation) realized that all of my rumination and discomfort with the way things are was keeping me from experiencing the present. I was never in the present. Ever. And when I first realized this, I would spend time beating myself up over the fact that I was missing out on the present. But guess what? All that beating up of myself was occurring in the present, which I was now also missing.

When I was able to find myself connect more often with the present moment, I found that there were truly beautiful things happening right here and now that were only accessible because I had let some things go.

So, to be in a constant state of discomfort about the way life is is to have a model of life that is inconsistent with reality. Then, when life invariably plays out in violation of the invalid model, it’s tantrum time.

If this person is truly willing to look deeper into the nature of his/her suffering, then I would recommend vipassana.

marinelife's avatar

I think that therapy could help this person very much.

mrrich724's avatar

I get annoyed by small things, and it makes me appear grumpy sometimes. It sucks because I’m typically so easy going and can appreciate life a little more based on some trials that have happened in my life, so I just lose sight of the big picture sometimes and act like a bitch.

When this happens, my friends know how I am, and they go “Rich, you’re an old man” with a sarcastic eye roll like “here we go again, get over it.”

That helps me realize I need to just take a step back and remember what’s really important.

So have the initial talk with them, especially if they are willing/ want to change, and then when you catch them, do the eye roll…

They’ll get used to it :)

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Mind you own business unless this person has asked you for help.

josie's avatar

What is it that makes you think that they need help? They may be wound up a little tight but so what?

JLeslie's avatar

There is medication for people who obsess. But, assuming they prefer not to use medication, probably eventually something will happen in their life that will force some perspective. Or, therapy for them to get at the root of why they are like this might help. That is, if they want it helped. They are probably an anxious personality, not necessarily though. Obsessing about these things might help them avoid dealing with other bigger things. Since you mention they were fight or flight for a long time, it might take a while for them not to be like this. They are kind of in a PTSD mode probably.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with @marinelife & @JLeslie.
Trauma therapy would help pull this person out of fight or flight mode.

augustlan's avatar

A little therapy goes a long way for stuff like this. Talking to someone with an outsider’s view can be very illuminating, and more helpful than talking to someone who is part of your daily life. I also agree with @tom_g about trying to be logical and in the moment. If meditation does the trick, I’m all for it.

ucme's avatar

It is, but you need a fully qualified veterinarian to perform the rather delicate task of removing the giant bug from the sufferers arsehole, not easy, but it can be done with due care & attention.

Paradox25's avatar

It sounds like anxiety. I was this way at one time, and the Paxil helped me. In all fairness there are people out there who’ll give you a difficult time if you show a lack of concern as well, and this can compound the problem even more, and turn a person into a complete mess. Ironically I’ve been accused of being too serious, and accused of not taking nothing seriously, and of all things at the same time period. Many times other people are the source of these problems, because you can’t please everyone.

jca's avatar

I used to go out with someone like this. If something pissed him off he’d be seething with anger. It was tiring for me to deal with it. It turns out, after we broke up, he has bipolar illness and anxiety and depression and is now on medication for all three. I’m not saying your friend has any or all of these things, but it sounds like she is pretty wound up and might consider seeing a doctor. It’s hard to convince someone to see a doctor, unless they realize that they way they are is not necessarily the way they want to live their life.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Not likely, they will have to want to change the behavior on their own, maybe after they believe it impacts them more negatively than they want to continue with. I was wound like that, well into my 30’s and though I didn’t enjoy it, meditation and reason didn’t lessen my reactions much. I had to be worn down and really feel the pressure of time passing me buy, stewing in my juices of shite other people didn’t even notice.

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