When You Yell, Be Kind!

I challenge you: when in conflict-approach your partner with kindness

One of the most difficult things to do when arguing with your partner is to be kind. Why is it that feelings of defensiveness, anger and blame show their ugly head faster than we can say “hunny you’re pissing me off?”

Time to get honest: Have you ever treated your partner in such  a way that you would be embarrassed to tell others?

WHY Do we do this? Why are we so quick to brand our partner as the enemy?

Psychologically, it is because our brains are wired in a way that pain commands our attention far more than pleasure- this is true for emotional pain as well. When we are hurt or angry, our brain picks up on it faster and with more intensity that when we feel pleasant feelings such as joy and happiness.

Basically, its human nature to be more attuned to the negative emotional we experience and be less connected with positive ones- that’s why its so difficult to reframe and change our approach- especially during times of high emotional intensity -like an argument.

What can you do?

  1. Commit to kindness. It’s more than just a statement-it is an approach to life. Take time to develop this skill and remember you’re human!
  2. Have hope. When we approach others by giving them the benefit of the doubt, it opens us up to having more clear communication during conflict.
  3. Interrupt the cycle by saying/doing something out of the ordinary. Try saying “I love you” during a shouting match or reach out and interlock fingers.

Check out this video for 5 tips on how to approach conflict with kindness:

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC ~ The Centered Life

Don’t Try to FIX your Partner’s Emotions

Has this ever happened to you? You call up your man and ask how his day is, he responds with a slew of “nothing is going right” and “I am so stressed from by boss breathing down my neck..” As any loving partner, you respond by listening, trying to give feedback and advice on how to get through this tough work day.

But in your quest to help your partner find relief from his stress – you find yourself feeling irritable that “he’s not taking any of your suggestions… “and if he just would try deep breathing, he would see how helpful it can be to manage his anger…”

Why this is a toxic merry go round:

Empathy VS Sympathy.

Knowing the difference will save you tons of stress and conflict in your relationship!

Brenee Brown said: “what makes something better is not a response, but connection..” This is the essential component of empathy. It’s a very simple concept but so tough to practice! When we know our loved one is in some kind of emotional pain- our gut instinctual reaction is to want to take that away. So, we go into problem solving mode! We say “do this…stop that” and spend much of our time formulating a solution rather than truly listening and validating out partner’s experience in that moment. This can cause our loved one to feel unsupported, misunderstood and invalidated!

Try this:

  1. Reflect what they’re saying to you- without interpreting) stand on their side, even if they are dead wrong!) “You’re boss is really on your case today” or “there’s been a lot of things that haven’t gone as planned for you today”
  2. Put on your therapist hat and validate, validate, validate: “I’m sure it’s really suffocating to have your boss so involved in everything…”
  3. Let them know you’re here if they need anything/ask is there anything I can do?

Remember: It’s not your responsibility, nor is it even possible to change the way your partner is feeling in any given moment. The more you understand this, the easier it will become to provide empathy.

Check out this short clip that will help you learn more!

Val Spiropoulos, LCPC

“Say This…Not That,” How To Support a Loved One Going Through Emotional Distress

 

It is beyond difficult to go through mental and emotional distress. It can feel impossible to formulate what you are going through, let alone express to a loved one how they can help. So many people experience feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, grief, and loss due to struggling with a mental illness or enduring a period of pain. However, everyone goes through different experiences and struggles so it can feel helpless to explain your pain and it can feel helpless to be a loved one trying to help heal that pain. I understand how loved ones then can feel at a loss as to how to give their support. It is normal to not know what to say, how to say it, what to do, or know if you are being helpful in any way.

Being a family therapist at The Centered Life, I believe it is an essential piece to therapy to aid my clients to learn how to conceptualize and express what they are experiencing in order to work through it. But I think it is equally as important in therapy to bring in clients’ support systems so they can learn how to be helpful in a healthy way. It is hard to be vulnerable and ask for help. And if that help is received in a negative way, it will only set up a dynamic of little communication about emotional needs and can negatively affect the relationship as well. Which then creates more distress on both ends. Here is a list of  some ways that may help people express what kind of help they need and help support systems navigate how to be helpful.

Say This: “I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help”

Not That: “We all go through times like this”

Say This: “You may not believe it now, but the way you are feeling will change”

Not That: “Just snap out of it, look on the bright side”

Say This: “You are not alone in this. I’m here for you. We will get through this together”

Not That: “You’ll be fine. Stop worrying. Shouldn’t you be better right now?”

Say This: “Talk to me, I’m listening.”

Not That: “Here is my advice.”

Say This: “I know you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, what can I do to help?”

Not That: “You are freaking out, you just need to calm down.”

Say This: “You are not alone in this”

Not That: “There is always someone worse off than you.”

Say This: “You are important to me and I want to help.”

Not That: “No one said life is fair.”

Say This: “Do you need a hug?”

Not That: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

Say This: “I can not completely understand what you are struggling with, but I can offer my love and compassion.”

Not That: “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed/anxious for a few days”

Say This: “I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.”

Not This: “Your moods are bringing everyone around you down.”

Say This: “When these feelings subside, I will still be here and so will you.”

Not That: “Stop being so sensitive, cheer up.”

It can feel helpless for both the person enduring the emotional distress and the people who are trying to help, but it does NOT have to be. The above statements are some helpful outlines to enhance healthy and empowering support. If we can open up a dialogue about these topics and help each other understand from both sides, then there is so much more of a chance of coping better. It is important to offer support with an open mind, open heart, and with an open-ended approach because it only leaves room for open healthy communication and learning amongst support systems. All of us at The Centered Life are here to help people that are going through a hard time. Please call us if you are needing any kind of guidance and extra support!

All my best,

    Samantha