The next time you have a difficult or upsetting conversation with someone, pay attention to the dialogue running inside your head. When you focus on trigger thoughts like:
- who do you think you’re talking to?!
- you’ve got the wrong one, this @#%$#% must think I’m soft!
- I have to get with her or check her so she knows she can’t talk to me any kind of way
It can be very difficult to stay calm and uncover what is really upsetting you or what you need in the moment. Trigger thoughts rob your focus, so instead of using your emotional energy responding to your own needs in the heat of the moment you spend that energy reacting to the other person. Try this instead:
Pause – take just a few seconds to breathe and check in with yourself. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- what is happening for me right now?
- why do I feel so angry?
- what am I telling myself about what is going on right now?
- is this about what is happening right now or does this make me remember something else that was painful?
- what do I need in this moment?
- what do I need in this moment to act in a way that I will feel good about later?
- is this even about me? maybe she is going through something.
Decide it is okay to focus on your self care instead of your ego during this difficult conversation. Some ways to talk to yourself include:
- this feels hard
- I feel angry but I don’t have to act outside my character
- all relationships have ups and downs, good days and bad days
- I can decide how I want to respond, I am in control of myself
- everything is always changing, this difficult moment will pass
Conflicts are a normal part of every life and every relationship. Instead of thinking of it as a challenge, think of conflict as an opportunity to understand yourself and your needs better. Use conflict as an opportunity to improve your communication skills and be your own best advocate. How you choose to respond during a conflict can mean the difference between going to jail or getting fired from your job and keeping your job and staying free to keep working on your goals. The only person that can decide if you stay in your character is you. You are always in control of yourself.