Many couples come in asking how to stop fighting.
Often it’s described as a need for communication skills when it’s really that there is too much communication going on – and it’s not the listening part of the communication process!
Terry Real talks about resisting that first impulse of reactivity when we’re irritated and emotionally triggered by our partner. He refers to it as 2nd Consciousness. 1st Consciousness is “the Woosh “ aka the wave or flood of emotion that leads to anger, defensiveness and attacks. Our knee jerk reaction or woosh occurs in the primitive part of the brain interested in self preservation. Fight, flight or freeze! When we become mindful of this primal response we can also learn to shift from 1st to 2nd Consciousness and stop the escalation which damages our relationships.
Awareness is the first part of self change. Relational Mindfulness is learned by practice – pausing and being aware when the reactive childlike part of us wants to take over the show – and then reaching down inside for that functional adult part to react differently. Unlike other animals we are blessed with consciousness – the ability to distinguish these parts of ourself and using the one we want. The more we practice, the better we get at mindfulness, bringing more measured and healthy responses into our relationship conflicts.