Couples Counselling: How to Regulate During Difficult Conversations
During difficult conversations, it’s common for us to become triggered by something our partner has said. We can feel calm one moment, but the next, we are thrown into “fight or flight” mode, our brain sensing danger. Before we know it, the most primitive part of our brain is activated, helping us to survive. And this is when things can get tricky because speaking calmly and rationally is impossible when our entire body and mind find themselves in survival mode.
However, there are moves we can make during these difficult times to regulate our emotional responses and keep ourselves calm and level-headed.
Pause and Breathe
When we feel triggered, try to pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. While deep breathing may seem cliche, it is a potent tool to help us get out of “fight or flight” and into a more regulated and, therefore, relaxed state. When we manage to breathe more slowly and deeply, it directly signals to our brain that we are out of danger.
Use Your Senses
Another effective way to regulate your emotions is to focus or bring awareness/attention to a physical sensation. For example, you could take a sip of water and focus on the feeling of drinking, or you could run your fingers along the seam of the seat you are sitting in.
Listen and Receive Fully
It is so common in a conversation that is becoming agitated to listen only to form a response. But when we do this, we can misunderstand what the other person is saying. So be sure to listen to understand and try to move away from focusing on forming a response.
Difficult conversations are inevitable in any relationship. But if you use these tips to regulate yourself, you can remain calm and communicate effectively with your significant other.
If you and your partner are interested in couples counselling, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am seeing my clients face-to-face from my office in Hove and globally online.