Short answer: It is 100% possible and we are about to tell you how!
1. Notice when you are activated.
Many times we are emotionally activated (or experiencing an emotion) and we don’t even know it. This might show up as a tightening of the chest, increased heart rate, a feeling of stress, rigid muscles, or some other bodily sensation. Becoming aware of your body’s responses will give you information regarding your thoughts.
2. Find the emotion.
Once you have become aware of the sensations in your body, try to name the emotion that is creating the activation. This won’t be a secondary emotion such as anger or frustration. Think beyond the first thing that jumps to mind. Hurt, alone, afraid, or rejected are more likely to be at the core of your activation. Naming the emotion will give you the ability to understand how you are perceiving the environment around you. In turn, this makes it easier to discover what your thoughts are surrounding your current situation.
3. Share the longing.
On the other side of your activated emotions will be a longing. For example, perhaps I’ve become activated as a quickening heart rate because I am feeling the secondary emotion of defensiveness. Underneath that defensiveness is my core feeling of being disrespected. I have a longing to be admired, and when I don’t feel that, the opposite feeling crops up: I feel disrespected and defensive. Sharing with my wife that it’s important for me to feel admired invites her into my personal experience.
4. Manage the thoughts.
Consider the thoughts that activated us. Then, consider other ways one might perceive the situation you find yourself in. In the example above, I was left feeling disrespected. Could it be that my perception of the events didn’t accurately capture my wife’s feelings or actions? Definitely. Especially when dealing with attachment longings. In these areas we can be more sensitive to the emotions that activate us. Knowing this, we can often find other ways to think about the situation that are believable and don’t leave us in an activated state. Our thoughts also may naturally change as we share our longing and get reassurance from our partner.
So, next time you find yourself in conflict, take these four steps torward connection.
If you run into any trouble as you apply these steps, sign up for a free mini-session and I will guide you through them! Click the link below and schedule a time- I’m here for you.