Ever wondered why something as simple as your partner’s tone of voice can send you into a tailspin?
How something seemingly small feels like an inferno inside, sending you off the charts?
Do you judge yourself for this? Or justify your reaction?
What in the hell is going on here?!
Most likely it has to do with safety: how safe or unsafe we feel in a certain relationship dynamic and how we perceive threat in that relationship.
The nervous system has a way of constantly assessing how safe we feel in relationship to others.
Because a situation felt scary to us when we were young—or because we actually experienced real fear or a life-threatening situation—we may react as if it’s happening again right now in real time. When we get triggered by our partner we turn into that five-year-old from way back when.
Sometimes all it takes is a gesture or a look to trip our systems—like a switch going off, instantly.
When we feel threatened, we go into survival mode.
Our brains shut off, reasoning goes offline, and we react instead of thinking.
If not addressed, these patterns can deteriorate safety and connection in our relationships over time.
So what do we do?
In this one-minute video, relationship expert and psychotherapist Terri Cole lays down three questions to help you get to the bottom of the relationship pattern:
According to Terri, we need to ask ourselves:
- Who does this person remind me of?
- Where have I felt like this before?
- Why is this behavioral dynamic familiar to me?
She reminds us to be grown ups here. Love that. Listen to Terri’s full interview where she dives deep into the subject of boundaries here).
Next, see if you can get clear about what’s really going on. Why are you so upset? Or scared? Why is this such a big deal?
Recognize that you are feeling threatened and remember the person in front of you is not mom or dad or whoever the scary person was back then.
When you’re ready, share what you’ve discovered with your partner.
Owning and understanding our reactions gets us resourced and better able to deal with the real-time, real life issues that show up.
Author: Jayson Gaddis
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis