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The Paradox of Human Emotions


The Paradox of Human Emotions
Why it’s the little things that set us off

It’s interesting to observe that people often react differently to small problems compared to major crises. While a minor inconvenience can cause a disproportionate emotional response, individuals tend to exhibit a surprising calmness when confronted with significant challenges. This paradox raises the question: why do people freak out about small problems in life, but remain calmer when dealing with a major crisis?

Why is that?

Perceived Proportionality:

One reason for this paradox is perceived proportionality. A traffic jam, misplacing your keys, or a dead car battery all disrupt our daily routine. At that very moment these seemingly small problems become exaggerated in our minds. On the other hand, during a major crisis, such as a natural disaster or a life-threatening situation, the magnitude of the problem becomes crystal clear, leading individuals to focus on survival rather than getting overwhelmed by emotions.


Perhaps a social media post from therapist and mental health writer Amber Elizabeth Smith can help us better understand why life’s little irritants become the straw that broke the camel’s back. She identified several potential reasons why small things can set us off. One is burnout. You could be exhausted, sick of doing the same things, or simply lacking energy for any number of reasons. Burnout shortens our fuse and leaves us with little or no capacity to deal with a problem in a constructive way.

Unresolved personal issues:

Another potential cause of overreacting to daily irritations is unresolved personal conflicts.

Replaying a painful situation over and over again in our minds places us under the stress of our flight-or-fight reaction and triggers an acute stress response. A pool of unresolved negative feelings and angst toward another is fertile ground for having a short fuse with those who have nothing to do with the original conflict.

A lack of self-care:

A poor diet and physical decline never serve us well in responding to problems. Outside of medications, the food you eat is one of the strongest prescriptions you place in your body throughout the day. Balancing your food intake with healthier choices helps stabilize your blood sugar and consequently, your emotional state. If you’ve ever said you’re ‘hangry’ you know the significance of what you eat.

In Conclusion:

The paradox of human emotions, where small problems elicit excessive fuss while major crises evoke a calmer response, can be attributed to these and several other factors. The key is self-awareness so we can better understand what makes us vulnerable to overreacting and making the needed corrections before the next problem presents itself for our consideration.

-Shannon Hicks


Editor in Chief:
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
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1 Comment

  1. Great article! Glad to know I am not the only one that goes through these emotions.

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