Have you ever been in an argument so challenging that it felt like neither person was listening to each other, and it just keeps escalating? It’s like each party is taking turns hurling the powerful statement that will WIN the argument! It’s not a fun feeling, mainly if that person is your partner. Sometimes these arguments are unavoidable because, in a relationship, there will undoubtedly be issues that people don’t see eye to eye.
I had experienced this difficulty before and even attended a few couples therapy sessions to reassure my partner I wanted to resolve our issue in communication. In the end, our issue wasn’t communication; it was that we wanted different things and couldn’t meet each other in the middle. A relationship between two people is their own, and you will set the rules with what is okay and what is not in your relationship. Yet, certain courtesies should always be observed because there are some things you can never take back.
There was a takeaway I learned from our half-dozen sessions with the specialist that will stay with me forever. I have never been one for arguments with anybody because they aren’t fun, and it feels like nobody wins. The reason they feel so counterproductive is that at a certain point, they are. The invaluable tip I learned is we are physiologically unable to listen once our heartbeat reaches a certain elevated point because our brain shifts to a primitive mode associated with fight or flight. At this point, danger signals have reached the brain and have shifted our focus to protection mode, and for the moment, we are unable to listen to new information until we can calm down. Hence, the two people involved just elevate their effort to win the argument or justify their position because subjectively, it has become a matter of life and death. At least, that’s how it feels in the moment.
If you have ever had the pleasure to experience this level of conflict, don’t worry; there is an advantageous trait that will help you manage your emotions and make sure you don’t get so heated or say something you regret. Stop, take a deep breath, and step away, take a short walk around the block to relax, and gather your composure again. The goal is to calm down, so you do whatever comes effortlessly to you. It works, I can tell you firsthand. You cool down and start reviewing what was said, what you said, and then gather yourself to step back into the room and calmly continue your previous discussion, but now with a remarkable ability to discuss a resolution. It will be infinitely easier to talk with the other person and infinitely more productive.
If you find yourself struggling to communicate with your partner or constantly feel emotionally overwhelmed by someone important to you, it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes an outside perspective is what we need, and you need to have someone available that you trust.
What has helped you get out of a toxic situation? Please share below. I think it is healthy to share what helps us be more effective; you never know who needs to hear it.