We are hardwired for connection as a social being, but sometimes when we are in chronic patterns of conflict, we can tell ourselves that it would be better to be alone. This reaction is a trauma response and is called avoidance. We tell ourselves that if we remove the stimulus, we will be ok, but the reaction that happens when in conflict to avoid or withdraw can not be addressed or healed when we remove the stimulus.
What we really want is reflected in the image featured in this blog. We have an inner child that longs for connection, safety, belonging, and love. When we are in conflict, we can be stubborn and protective to protect that inner child who feels hurt and abandoned.
It is important to remember that in couples’ conflict, it is the negative interaction cycle that is the problem. It is not either party that takes more responsibility for that conflict; however, both parties need to recognize their “part” in the conflict, and the deeply rooted attachment wounds that incite the reaction. Often people describe feeling unseen and unimportant, and report that their partner is not taking accountability for their part in the conflict or argument. The purpose of blame is to discharge pain and discomfort, but it does nothing to encourage healing and accountability for “our parts” in conflict. When we shift the focus to self-responsibility and begin to actively employ personal dysregulation tools during conflict, we can use our prefrontal cortex which can be reasonable and rational unlike our limbic triggered response.
The goal is to reduce or stop blaming and projecting our feelings of hurt and rejection and begin to look inside during or after a conflict at what is happening both physically and emotionally in you personally rather than looking for an external reason to justify or validate your experience.
When we return to the non-dysregulated state, we can approach our partner without blame and anger, but from a softer more vulnerable place. We can talk about how we are feeling with accountability. We can describe the story that we make up or the assumptions we make about why the other person responded the way they did, and we can give our partner a generous assumption that they do not want to hurt us on purpose. This might look like, “When you interrupted me and offered a solution rather than empathy it hurt me and made me feel small and unimportant. The story I make up is that you do not value my opinion and you do not want to be there for me. What I want is to share my experience and for you to listen with empathy rather than solutions or becoming defensive.” It requires bravery and courage. We can not have true intimate connection without vulnerability which is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. When we put up walls it does not allow for a way into connection.
If you are looking for more practice with this and would like to attend an awesome workshop, we can help! Hold Me Tight is a couple’s workshop that will be offered at Infinite Healing and Wellness by Ellen McDow and Julie Russomanno in September. If you find yourself struggling with connection or communication in your relationship, you will not regret this investment in your relationship. If you just want to be proactive in your connection with your partner, then you will love this!
For more information about the Hold Me Tight Workshop - Click the link below