Reactivity: Overt and Covert

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Reactivity: Overt and Covert
How do you react when someone is treating you in a way you don't like?

How do you usually react when someone is blaming you, criticizing or judging you, being irritated with you, yelling at you, withdrawing from you, or resisting you?

There are two forms of reaction from the ego wounded self: overt and covert. Both forms come from wanting to control. Both overt and covert reactivity are intended to get the other person to change through some form of teaching, punishment or guilting. The ego often says, "This person is behaving in a way that is unacceptable to me, and I cannot allow him or her to get away with this. I have to teach them a lesson so they won't continue to treat me this way." The ego wounded self is convinced that trying to get the other person to change with teaching, guilting or punishing is taking care of yourself. In reality, you cannot be trying to control someone else and be taking care of yourself in the same moment.

Overt Reactivity

Overt reactivity is anything you say out loud to control the other person. This includes:
• Any form of criticism, judgment and parental tone of voice
• Any form of blame, including telling your feelings with the intent of making the other person responsible for your feelings
• Arguing, explaining, defending and teaching
• Whining, crying
• Threatening

Overt reactivity also includes an overt violent action, such as throwing things or hitting.

When we are reacting overtly, we hope that by intimidating, punishing, guilting or teaching, we can get the other person to change and be the way we want them to be or think they should be.

Covert Reactivity

Covert reactivity is when you don't overtly say or do anything, but in your head you are judging, blaming and condemning the other person. You are punishing the other person by withdrawing your love or attention. Your wounded self is muttering things like, "What a jerk. I'll show her she can't treat me this way. I won't speak to her for two days. That will teach her a lesson." You have convinced yourself that if you withdraw love or attention, the other person will recognize the error of their ways and change.

Even though you are not saying anything, the other person picks up the energy of your blame and may further react with their anger, blame or withdrawal.

This article was originally published at Inner Bonding . Reprinted with permission.
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Dr. Margaret Paul

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Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Take our FREE Inner Bonding course, and click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer. Visit our website at innerbonding.com for more articles and help, as well as our Facebook Page. Phone and Skype sessions available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Couples/Marital Issues, Depression
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