I have a special place in my heart for cheesy sci-fi shows.

One of my favorites is Warehouse 13. If you’ve ever watched the show you know that the secret agents go all over the world collecting artifacts that have some sort of weird power to them, and that is not always a good thing. Some of the powers are light and funny while others are really dark and heavy. These items always create some sort of mischief, which leads to one of the main characters getting whammied.  This happens whenever that magical power ends up getting on someone, changing them, and having them act in ways that are atypical of their personality. They start doing things differently all of a sudden, which is also when the comedy kicks in, making it a light, fun show.

Totally enjoyable and binge-worthy. 


The reason that I’m telling you about this random show is because I think that the idea of being whammied in real life has come up a lot in our family.  Many of you know that we temporarily raised a foster kiddo, and transitioned her back to her home. During that time, we kept finding little emotional reminders that you would think wouldn’t be huge, but they whammied us.  We didn’t expect the reminders to be so strong, or to surface such complicated the emotions. Those emotions and incidents whammied us, and we experienced changes in our behaviors and relationships as a result.


I think all of us feel whammied on a regular basis. 

Things sneak up on us, especially when we have trauma in our past, or when we’re in seasons of massive change and transformation. Direction changes in our business, shifts in our families, kids going off to college, or a foster kiddo going home are all examples of things that can whammy us. And it usually catches us off guard, especially if there are positive outcomes or pieces of those events.


For many of us, whammies feel a lot like failure.

We say things like, “Ugh, why didn’t I see that coming?” We beat ourselves up by thinking, it’s really not that big of a deal, so why did it make me upset or cry? Why did I get angry or why did something so small make me feel so unsafe. 

One of the questions that my husband and I developed in our shared vocabulary is “ Why did that seemingly small thing whammy us?” The important follow up question to that first one is “What did it land on?” A lot of times, the event or incident landed on something we didn’t know was there that we are sensitive to, such as old trauma wounds, or a place inside us where we feel unsafe, inadequate, or rejected. 

For example, in the show Warehouse 13, someone touches an artifact and it changes their behavior.  Now, they didn’t know that that particular clock was different from any other clock in the world until they touched it and started acting differently.  Similarly, when a whammy strikes after we make a small mistake, someone says something seemingly neutral, or a tiny event happens, it’s because that event landed on an artifact.  It’s not small, but rather deeply connected to something that’s very sensitive for you right now.  


How do you know when you get whammied?


Well you “over react “ or you get “over emotional” or you’re “extra sensitive”. It’s any time you’re using all those blame-y, shame-y words to minimize your emotions.  If your reaction doesn’t seem to fit the cause, at least on the surface, than you got whammied.

When that feeling starts to creep in and make you say, “Why did I over-react to that? It doesn’t make sense!” Pause and ask yourself, “What did that land on that made it a big enough deal to derail you? What did that small thing land on that was sensitive or painful for me?”

Maybe that particular emotion surprised you. Maybe the event triggered a memory around an old wound or failing. 


You can be whammied by anything. Even a little, seemingly innocent thing like a conversation or an email or a Facebook post. When Facebook posts whammy me, they’re not usually the ones talking about the hard situation that I’m in!  Sometimes they’re from a minimalist page that I follow because they speak about simplicity in life, values, and priorities. But sometimes I’ll see a post that will bring me to tears. Or I’ll feel a little bit of shame because I worked those extra hours last night. 

Core issues quietly churning inside leave us vulnerable to whammies.


So instead of beating yourself up and minimizing your emotions, start by asking yourself, “What is it that this landed on that was big enough to derail me? And what attention does that need?” Whatever inside you that event is landing on is the true source of the emotions. Your emotions bubble up until they spill over as a result of this deeper, core need.


So how can you handle being whammied?

That is going to be a little different for everyone, based on how you’re wired. Maybe you are a verbal processor and need to talk to someone about this big, jumbled-up ball of emotion. Perhaps you love to write and that’s how you process things. Perhaps you’re a runner, and your daily run lets you work things out.  Just be very kind and gentle with yourself when this happens, because it means you need more processing space. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, a moral failure, or insensitive. It actually means you’re paying really good attention to your body, your mind, your emotions, and your very soul. You’re noticing your own atypical response and getting curious about why that is happening. 

This self awareness opens the door to a ton of conversations you can have with yourself, your life coach, your counselor, your pastor, your spouse, and even with God. In those conversations, be willing to dive deeper into discovery and ask, what do I actually need? What do I need to heal this? How can I grieve? What do I need in order to attach these emotions to the real thing that’s stirring them up, and not just this little opportunity that came along?


Be kind to yourself. Be curious. And be really grateful for your own self-awareness and courage to ask, “hey what’s really going on here?”