Sharing your life with someone means having open and honest conversations, even when those conversations are a bit difficult. But that’s easier said than done.
During hard conversations, it’s common for many people to become triggered by something their partner has said. Calm one moment, but the next they’re thrown into “fight or flight” mode, their brain sensing danger. Before they know it, the most primitive part of their brain is activated in an effort to help them survive. And this is when things can get ugly. Because it’s fairly impossible to speak calmly and rationally when your entire body is in survival mode.
Luckily there are things we can do during difficult conversations to regulate our emotional responses and keep ourselves calm and level-headed.
Pause and Breathe
As soon as you start to feel triggered, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. While deep breathing may seem like a cliche, it is actually a very powerful tool that helps us get out of “fight or flight” mode and into a more relaxed state. When we breathe slowly and deeply, it sends a signal to our brain that we are out of danger.
Use Your Senses
Another effective way to regulate your emotions in the moment is to focus your attention on a physical sensation. You could take a sip of water and really feel the sensation of drinking, or you could run your fingers along the seam of the sofa cushion.
It is so common in a conversation to listen to form a response. But when we do this it is far easier to misunderstand what the other person is really saying. Be sure to listen to understand, not to form a response.
Difficult conversations are inevitable when you are in any kind of relationship. But if you use these tips to regulate yourself, you can remain calm and communicate effectively with your partner.
Hi, I’m Fatima, a south Florida native with ties to the Caribbean, and I absolutely love what I do! Since graduating in 2011, I have had the pleasure of helping so many achieve their goals. I have helped teens and adults work through and overcome symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and, addiction. One of my passions is helping couples learn how to better communicate with each other. Together we can get through the difficult times in your relationship by building stronger foundations and understanding each other on a new level.
Graduating from St. Thomas University with honors and becoming licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Masters Level Certified Addictions Professional (MCAP), my training has afforded me a unique lens by which I view the complexities you may face in a relationship or family system. My education and experience have also allotted me a toolbox with a wide array of clinically sound techniques that include dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused therapy, stress reduction, and mindfulness.