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Grape Bubble Gum

It was a chill night with good food and fun people. Then suddenly someone was yelling. There were obscure accusations. Wild threatening. A slamming front door.

"What the fu&*I*?!? All I did was turn on the record player!" Our adrenaline surges and all we can think about is how it went wrong.

Sometimes people appear incredibly irrational. Their reactions are huge, passionate, and full of emotion when the situation calls for calm, curious, and gentle. It's easy to write someone off who responds like that, but I challenge you to slow that judgement down for just a second...

Once upon a time it was a hot summer day. Four friends were riding in the car to go see a concert. The driver was chewing grape bubble gum. Jimmy Hendrix was on the radio. There was a screeching sound and then, BAM! Three of the four friends were dead.

The human brain is incredible. When it experiences intense pain or fear without an opportunity to protect itself or safely engage with supportive community, it writes a code to try to prevent the situation from ever happening again. That code might say, "Watch out for these signs: 1 a hot day, 2 grape bubble gum, 3 Jimmy Hendrix, 4 a screeching sound."

Then when a best friend starts playing his favorite record, the brain switches almost instantly into emergency response mode, which can look like all cylinders firing: huge, passionate, and full of emotion—even though there was no car wreck coming.

Next time you see someone appearing to lose their mind, take a deep breath and compassionately (safely!) prepare yourself to support an overwhelmed human.

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