What is your conflict style? Do you shut down? Are you confrontational? Do you use distance and silence as a weapon? If you and your partner have different ways of dealing with conflict, you may be constantly triggering each other’s defenses and creating more relationship issues. Take a moment to step back and look at how you deal with conflicts individually.
Identify When You Feel Triggered
The first step is to notice what triggers you. Before you get to the place of being angry or hurt, there’s a moment that triggers you. Take note of that moment first and foremost. Identify what fear, concern, or story you feel is going to unfold. Tell your partner when you’re feeling triggered before you get to the place of shutting down or fighting back. A simple, “I’m feeling triggered right now”, even if you aren’t sure why, will help your partner understand that something needs to be addressed.
State What You Need to Calm Down
When a trigger begins to activate your fight or flight response, notice what you feel the need to do. Let your partner know, “I need some quiet time to calm down” or “I need to talk about this in order to get over it” or “I need space and time to figure out why I’m feeling triggered”. Your partner will be more willing to work with you and give you what you need when you state it openly as something you need in order to work through a moment of conflict.
Find Your Fear or Concern
Take a moment to identify what is creating your fear or concern in the moment of being triggered. Was it an action that reminds you of something you fear may happen? Was it something said that causes you concern and worry? What is the fear or concern under the conflicting feeling? Your partner will be more understanding when you share what triggers you from a place of fear or concern, versus a place of unresolved anger and resentment.
Discuss What Makes You Feel Safe
This takes a lot of practice, but after enough introspection, you can get to a place of being able to state what would help you feel safe in moments when you feel triggered. When you approach conflict from the perspective of what you need to feel safe, your partner can better understand your underlying needs and how to meet them in more compassionate and thoughtful ways.
If you’re having a hard time identifying your triggers or your underlying fears, professional counseling can help you get to the source of the concerns in a safe and objective space. Please reach out to us anytime if you’d like support.
To find out more about our counseling services that help couples get on track, click here: Couples Counseling