Are Arguments Wearing You Down?
When we are emotionally triggered we disconnect from our core feeling and are therefore out of alignment with who we want to be, and how we want to feel. All our actions from this disconnected state tend to be destructive. Our words become demanding, blaming or hyper critical; and clear, loving communication becomes impossible until we reset ourselves to a calm emotional state.
In contrast, when we communicate from a calm and empowered emotional state, we are able to ensure that our words and actions are in alignment with who we really are and how we want to be and feel. This results in both partners feeling supported, heard and understood.
Staying angry doesn’t get us what we ultimately want in our relationship which is the feeling of mutual love, respect, appreciation and connection. As soon as we start analyzing why we think we are angry it’s going to lead to more trouble because our thoughts continue to retrigger us into further emotional reactions. Trying to override our body’s natural stress response keeps us in our mind and is the very action which continues to make us feel separate.
With our biology in fight/flight or freeze/shutdown mode, we want to get out of tense situations as fast as possible, so we launch into a verbal tirade to quickly offload our frustration and related annoyances. However, instead of making us feel connected, this triggers our partner into feeling hurt, defensive and questioning why they are still in a relationship with us.
In life and especially in our relationships we frequently find ourselves dealing with the negative consequences and repercussions of becoming emotionally triggered.
Understanding Anger and Emotional Reactions
As soon as we become emotionally triggered, we disconnect from our core and how we want to feel. Stress hormones take over, we cannot think clearly and our words and actions become destructive. This is exacerbated because when we are triggered we are focused on who we don’t want to be, what we don’t want to experience, and how we don’t want to feel!
Our nervous system has more recently evolved to allow us to first engage through our eyes, facial expression, hand gestures, and tone of voice to resolve a tense situation.
However, we more often than not override this newer social engagement system and default to our ancient survival mechanism of fight/flight or freeze/shutdown. In a relationship, we may perceive this (or be perceived by our partner) as being aggressive or passive-aggressive.
These triggered emotional states make clear communication impossible. With eyes bulging, body tense, and our voice sounding terse we appear to be threatening. Or our withdrawn, disconnected expression makes us look like our partner is the last person we want to be in the vicinity of.
Either expression can result in triggering our partner, and when we are having discussions on sensitive, important topics, our biology can continue to retrigger each other so the related issues are never fully resolved.
In addition to this, when we are emotionally triggered, our prefrontal cortex shuts down to the degree that we cannot think clearly or assimilate new information. This is why in an argument, both partners will resort to bringing up past situations that were similar, as they desperately try to provide context to the current situation.
Known as “dredging”, this tends to make your partner feel blamed and accused – and is ineffective because your memories of that past situation were clouded by your own perception at the time which was limited because you were emotionally triggered. As was theirs.
When you are emotionally triggered, you only perceive (and therefore remember) a small percentage of what actually happened.
How to Control Anger in Your Relationship
It’s important to make sure you are communicating from an emotionally empowered state so you don’t inadvertently trigger your partner, retrigger yourself, or forget what you need to say.
This is why the first step in controlling your anger and saving your relationship is to take charge of your biology; your autonomic nervous system’s fight/flight and freeze/shutdown response and the stress hormones which trigger unwanted emotional reactions.
When we communicate from a calm and empowered emotional state, we are able to ensure that our words and actions are in alignment with who we really are and how we want to be and feel. This results in both partners feeling supported, heard and understood.
Feeling aligned with ourselves can naturally raise our levels of happy hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins which also help us feel more connected. Actions initiated from this emotionally empowered state have a positive rather than negative influence on others.
In summary, follow these essential steps to control anger in your relationship, significantly reduce arguments and enhance your overall sense of connection in your relationship:
It is only after restoring yourself to an emotionally empowered state that you are able to get clear on how you want to be and feel so you can stay focused on creating your ideal relationship. This makes it much easier to communicate with your partner and understand what is important to them as well as you.
By understanding your partner’s needs and then sharing the vision of what you want to create together, you can both now step up your “A” game and make required adjustments to your own actions and behaviors. This will reduce emotional triggering, enhance attraction in your relationship and help restore a mutually satisfying connection.
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