Internalizing External Events

In our day to day lives, events are constantly occurring around us. Even if we were to stand completely still and do absolutely nothing all day long, the world around us would continue moving, and events would continue to occur. These external events typically have nothing to do with things that we have said or done. 

Though external events are rarely a direct result of our actions, many people find it easy to internalize events (often negative events) and blame themselves for the outcome of those events. This often comes from insecurity. With introspection and understanding we can reshape the thought patterns associated with internalizing external events. 

Internalizing Behaviors

Internalizing behaviors occur when someone is under the impression that the negative events happening around them reflect their character.  The result of this process of internalization is feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, withdrawal, and other negative emotions that are subtle and often unrecognized. 

These negative internalizations can cause feelings of being misunderstood, and may trigger anxiety and depression, making you less likely to ask for help. 

Examples of Internalizing Behaviors

Example #1

Judgement from others is a perfect example of internalizing external events. Imagine you decide to follow a career path that is outside of the norm. You’re excited about this career choice, but when you tell your family, they have a negative response. They are only reacting this way because you’re doing something outside of the life that they imagined for you and has nothing to do with reality. As result of their negative response, however, you question your decision and conclude that you aren’t good enough.

Example #2

You’re having a conversation with someone, when suddenly their mood changes.

You do not know that the reason that this person’s mood changed is because they realized that they were hungry.  Your assumption is that you’ve done something wrong to cause this sudden change, even if you didn’t say or do anything that could be viewed as offense or hurtful. Instead of communicating how you’re feeling in that moment, you begin feeling like they don’t like you, questioning yourself as a person. 

How to Stop Internalizing External Events

Transitioning from internalizing external events, to becoming aware that these external events are separate from one’s character and actions can be challenging and takes patience and practice. There are several possible steps to take to lessen or fully stop internalizing external events. 

Develop Self-Worth 

People that struggle with internalizing external events typically struggle with self-confidence and self-worth. Taking time to get to know oneself is helpful in knowing your worth, lessening the impact of other’s judgements. 

Set Boundaries 

Doing things to please others can make people susceptible to other’s emotions, making them vulnerable. Setting boundaries aligned with one’s own beliefs can prevent internalizing their emotions as your own. 

Use Logic 

Being too emotional facilitates internalization of external events.  Looking at an event with a more logical perspective can help you to determine whether the event caused wrong emotions, or if what you’re internalizing is valid. 

Ask yourself if you’re taking things too personally. 

These questions will help you “Was the event intended to harm me in any way?” and “Was my reaction proportionate with the event that occurred if there was no malice directed towards me?”. 

Lean on Professionals 

If you feel like you may be internalizing too much, it might be best to ask for help from those that are unbiased and experienced in reversing these thinking patterns. When you feel like you’re ready to make a change, the fastest and easiest way is to reach out for help. Click on this link and I would be happy to discuss with you some options that work.