Aderenaline released by surging anger is like flood waters through a breached levy. It wreaks havoc and leaves a trail of destruction. So how can you safegaurd your house?
Floods are prevented by knowing how to Exit and Re-Enter. Leaving before anger surges prevents damage. Calming oneself is the key after you leave. Equally important is to return to the problematic discussion once you're calm so you can work together to find a more productive plan. Without a new resolution the issue will just fester and lead to more anger down the road.
Exit/Re-Enter Plan Questions
1. Signs in me that I need to Exit. How can you tell that you're starting to simmer? What's the earliest warning sign? Change in voice tone? A physical sensation? A type of thought? A word that pops out?
2. Signs in my partner that I need to Exit. Anger is very sticky. If your partner is starting to boil, odds are you'll get pulled right in. The best thing is to notice this and exit before you do. What's the problem with telling the other to take an exit? Yup, crossovers will only worsen the storm.
3. Exit. Where will you go to cool down? Where will your partner go? Hint: Separate rooms is key! And, no parting comments allowed.
4. Calm down. How will I calm myself down? What activities are soothing? What activities do I enjoy doing alone? Hint: Get your mind off the argument to stop from spinning on and free yourself up for more productive thoughts once the adrenaline settles down.
5. Analyze. Once you are calm and ready to process, think about what YOU could do differently to make the situation go smoother? No thinking about how to change your other half (remember, Avoid Crossovers). Would food or sleep help? How could you make the situation better without changing your spouse?
6. Reconnect. Where will we reconnect? What are some safe topics, like funny movies or cute things our kids do, to test the waters with?
Starting off with a safe conversation gets the positive conversation flow going and also is a great way to check that you both are calm enough to broach the difficult topic. If this still feels heated, Exit again until you're both really calm.
7. Return to the Topic. What are good times to address sticky topics? What are good locations. Be sure to set a specific time and place that you will return to the topic if the immediate moment is not ideal.