The focus this week is how to stop an argument before it starts. As I look around at what is happening in the US as a result of the election, I see a lot of anger and conflict no matter who people voted for: between friends, love partners, neighbors and all over social media. So what can you do if you find yourself heading towards an argument?
The best thing we can do when we are angry is stop an argument before it starts or escalates, so you can have the discussion from a more centered place.
Did you know that when you get triggered the blood actually drains out of your brain and goes into your arms so you can fight or your legs so you can run away; you’re in fight or flight, right? So we’re literally not able to think properly, and we say things that we regret later.
So the first thing I guide people to do is to soothe their nervous system. (don’t we need a whole lot more of this now?) You might have to take a time out to do this, before you respond to the person. If there is an emergency on a plane, we are told to breathe into our own oxygen mask first before we help others.
It is the same if you’re heading towards an argument.
I have a process that I teach called “Emotional Alchemy” that you can do on your own, during a time out, that shifts upset and negative emotions into desires and values that you can communicate in a calm way. I teach this Emotional Alchemy in my coaching programs.
The first step of Emotional Alchemy is to soothe yourself and your feelings. I’ll guide you through a short process that you can do on your own right now.
Close your eyes if it feels safe to do so, and take some deep breaths all the way into your low belly, and relax your belly.
• Feel how strong your legs are, as if they’re tree trunks. Imagine there are roots going down into the earth from the bottoms of your feet, and feel the strength in your legs.
• Imagine that your heart is softening and opening, as if you could unzip your heart and shine compassion towards all of your feelings as they flow through you.Imagine the last time you were triggered emotionally. What emotion did you feel most strongly? Maybe it was rage, sadness, disappointment, etc. Feel these sensations in your body for a minute as you breathe. Open your heart and feel compassion for your feelings, whatever they are.
The second step is connecting to your values. So from your heart you’re going to ask yourself a question, because this emotion is caused by an important value not being honored. So please ask yourself, what value isn’t being honored here? ?
A value is what you want your life to stand for. For example, My top values are love, wisdom, and empowerment. Feel what it feels like to connect to your values. How does it feel to connect to what you stand for?
As opposed to anger or hurt being against something, it can be for something that you believe in. Yes we want to be against hatred or racism, for example and take actions against hatred and racism. Just notice how it feels different to take the same actions from a place of standing for inclusion and equality. Notice how it feels different to be against something vs. for something. You can take the same actions, but coming from your heart and channeling the anger into something positive.
I don’t hate the haters; I want to speak against their actions, from a place of recognizing that they’re scared and feeling powerless, and feeling compassion for that as well as being against the hateful actions.
Feeling strong in your values is the next step in the Emotional Alchemy and it’s something that I guide people deeper in when I work with them. But for now, you’re doing great. And now, I’d like you to notice :how do you feel, different from how you did a couple minutes ago?
The rest of the Emotional Alchemy process allows you to access your deepest needs and desires, and transform your “vibe” so you show up in a way that inspires your community and your partner to meet them.
So let’s bring this home to our romantic relationships.
Let’s say my partner is yelling at me or criticizing me. I can make him wrong for doing that, and then we’ll have an argument. Or I can connect to my own feelings, and my own values of love and empathy, and say, “Ouch, I feel hurt, or I feel angry. I love you and I want us to talk to each other respectfully. Are you willing to do that?” Then I’m not making him wrong or telling him what to do. If he continues, I can walk away and soothe my own feelings and come back to the conversation when I’m more centered.
The key is to speak from your heart, not your mind or your fears. I’ll be sharing more about this on the FB live video Q & A on Thursday evening at 8pm, so you can ask questions about how to handle strong emotions and avoid arguments, and I’ll answer them in the FB live video.
And when you use this process with your partner, you can then inspire them to want to meet your needs and not only avoid an argument but strengthen your relationship! Here’s the Facebook Live video, and submit your question to me now in the comments 🙂