Have you ever been discussing something with your husband and suddenly it goes south?
You were calm a minute ago but then he started getting mad
And before you know it...you are mad too?
Something biological happens in this quick moment that is a lot like going unconscious.
We forget that this is a person we really love
We forget that we want to work as team members
We forget that we feel terrible after losing our temper
And when we "come to" we realize that it happened again.
I have these moments too.
Bringing yourself back to consciousness takes two initial skills:
Noticing that it is happening.
Having an alternative plan ready.
This is very much like the times you are driving to the store
And you don't remember driving there.
The unconscious mind has taken you on a mental route that it knows well.
When we argue we have often done this the same, ol' way several times.
We have even imagined an argument before it happens, creating dialogue for him and then your dialogue back.
This is mental rehearsal and it works.
Here is an example of how I have used this in my life.
1. Notice. I noticed that I have a split second when I am becoming angry RIGHT BEFORE I lash back when I wonder if I should say what I am about to say.
(I didn't notice it until I worked to.)
I start to feel tense.
I feel a swelling, tight sensation in my chest.
It feels like I am going to explode...and then I do.
It is proceeded by the flash of the thought, "That's it".
This is my signal, my alarm, that I worked to notice.
2. Engage the intentional plan. This second skill came before the argument ever started.
I planned how I wanted to show up
Instead of how I often have in the past.
We're building a house together, folks.
It didn't take long to get to practice my intentional plan.
As he got upset I noticed his voice starting to raise.
I noticed my body feeling tense and explosive.
I told myself, "It's happening".
I said the words that I had intentionally planned the day before,
"Come back to me. We are on the same team. Let's remember connection. This will break us."
It was like water was splashed on both of our faces.
Things calmed down and we were able to calmly solve the problem we were addressing.
In this moment I just wanted to remember these things:
I love this person.
I care about him.
Connection is key.
It doesn't matter who is right or wrong.
I don't mind being the one who works to stay present.
Being present for both of us helps me the very most.
It is worth the work.
If you find yourself in this situation, give these tips a try.
What is your signal that you can use to wake you up to awareness that it is happening?
What can you say or do to bring you back to love?
I would love to know how these work for you. What was your alarm? And what did you plan to do instead to bring you back?
I'll anonymously put your responses on my Facebook and Instagram so we can all have the benefit of your great ideas.
You've got this.
If you would like a strategy session with me, to help you stay calm in your next disagreement just push the button below.