So, my wife recently told me I am husband version 4.0 her. She feels like she has a new husband. Wow!
I asked her who were the other three? This is what she said.
Have you ever had a rush of energy after hearing a loud voice in the vicinity? Or when the person in front of you slams on their brakes?
That’s fight or flight at work.
The same happens when an argument becomes overheated. This is when your heart starts pounding and all the other physical stress reactions happen.
The consequences for communication are disastrous. Your ability to process information is reduced, and it’s ten times harder to pay attention to what your partner is saying.
One of the most apparent physical reactions to danger is that the attacked person’s heart speeds up dramatically. It pounds away at over 100 beats per minute, and goes as high as 165.
That’s more than double a normal blood pressure. Cortisol levels in your body rise dramatically.
In such a state, creative problem solving (as well as any potential win-win scenarios) go right out of the window. You’re left with the most reflexive and least intellectual responses in your repertoire: fight (show contempt, criticize, dispense sarcasm, ) or flee (stonewall).
Any chance of resolving the issue is gone. Most likely, the continuation of the discussion will just worsen matters.
Do you know the feeling?
When you’re upset, your amygdala—the ancient part of the brain that’s responsible for the fight or flight response—has taken over full control. Your body starts to produce vast quantities of adrenaline and you’re being flooded with cortisol.
When you see any of the signs of an emotional tornado coming, it’s super important for you stop the conversation and calm down.
Why would you want to do that?
There are three strong reasons why you want to pull the plug of the conversation if you get upset.
Let’s first tackle the more obvious two:
But there’s a third reason, and to my mind, it’s the most important one.
Back when our ancestors were chasing mammoths across the frozen tundra, cortisol was key to staying alive. Its role was to prepare the body to defend itself or get away.
That still is true today.
Except that nowadays, instead of running from a giant sabertooth tiger, we’re being almost exclusively chased by our own negative emotions. Unfortunately, our unconscious mind-–the amygdala—doesn’t know the difference.
So, when an argument becomes overheated, your first goal is to avoid saying or doing things you might later regret. The easiest way to do this is by using any of the below stop sentences:
After saying this, beware!
No further arguing, no comments, even at half volume. And no door slamming! Politely resist letting your spouse suck you back into an already heated conversation.
Admittedly, this takes quite a bit of self-discipline. But it pays off immensely.
After our amygdala has been set off, our brain simply needs some time to reboot. Different people need different amounts of time to calm down. Interestingly, it has been scientifically proven that men generally need more time than women.
Either way, don’t rush.
You can speed up the time needed to restart your brain by moving your body. I mean literally moving your legs and arms and doing something with them, not moving your fingers over the screen of your phone.
That’s because when you move, your brain releases neurochemicals called endorphins. They have a soothing effect on your mind and make you feel good.
Basically, do anything that makes your body move.
I wouldn’t suggest going shopping to calm down, (at least not every time) if you don’t want to anchor yourself into spending money every time you need to calm down. Because if you do that on a consistent basis, your brain will make the connection: angry–shopping–buying nice things for me–pleasure–let’s get angry some more!
QUESTION: What is your best practice for dealing with moments when things get overheated? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
If you’re upset and your heart is pumping like crazy, you won’t hear anything your spouse is saying, no matter how hard your spouse tries. It’s impossible to have good conversations like this.
That’s because once the amygdala—the unconscious part of your brain responsible for the fight or flight response—is set off, there can’t be any meaningful conversation until you calm down.
Most of us are convinced that we are reasonably good listeners. However, when asked, many partners are unable to give an coherent summary of what their partner just said without missing half of the story.
That’s because many of us are not even consciously aware that we have a tendency to plan what we are going to say next without actually listening to what is being said.
Trust is like love. Both parties have to feel it before it really exists. While trusting and being trustworthy are related, they are not the same thing.
In this post you’re going to discover the Trust Formula and the most important elements of trustworthiness. It will show you which areas you should focus on in order to fix shaken trust or to avoid breaking it in the first place.
You might remember the Lieutenant Columbo TV series, with Columbo played by Peter Falk? For the uninitiated, Lt. Columbo was that trenchcoat-wearing, cigar-smoking television detective of the Los Angeles Police Homicide Bureau. The show ran off and on from 1971 to 2003.
Columbo was an exceptionally successful detective. He used his humble ways and ingenuous demeanor to put people at ease, allowing them to open up and tell him things they otherwise wouldn’t. Here’s how this relates to your conversations with your spouse.
Have you ever tried to apologize, but ended up in a much bigger fight? You wanted to say you were sorry, but then you said something that really set your partner off?
Admitting when you’re wrong is hard. Knowing when, and especially how, to apologize earns you appreciation and respect. On the other hand, doing it wrong consistently makes you look like a jerk. It builds resentment, and soon, your partner will probably start behaving the same way. Therefore, this post is not about preventing you from messing things up, but what you can do about it afterwards.
It’s often said that marriage is about sacrifice and compromise. That doesn’t sound so great, does it? The reality is, though, that in much of your marriage, you will be in constant agreement to do something, one way or another, with more than a large gray area in between.
This can be anything from picking where to go out for dinner, to where you will go on vacation this year, and similar things. Or it can mean more serious decisions, like moving across the country because your partner got a promotion, and now you have to leave your friends and family behind. Agreeing to do something, when done properly, can enhance a feeling of connection and harmony, while the opposite leads to frustration, anger, depression, and all sorts of really toxic behaviors.