Is your relationship plagued by fights and reactivity? When your partner says something that scares or infuriates you, do you “lose it” and say things you later regret? Most of us have experienced this very unpleasant situation. However, if you want to save your relationships (and your health), you’ve got to stop reacting and start developing a safe communication strategy. The first thing to do is to stop yelling.
I have heard people say they “can’t help themselves”, and that they “can’t control what comes out of their mouths when they are upset”. This is simply not true.
Unless you have a brain disorder, you most certainly can control what comes out of your mouth. If a cop pulls you over, you don’t have a meltdown. You keep calm. If your boss calls you into the office, you don’t “lose it”. You keep calm. If you are in the middle of a fight with your spouse in the grocery store, and your pastor or someone you want to impress walks up, what do you do? Even though you are IN THE MIDDLE OF A FIGHT, you stop fighting. You put a smile on your face and act happy and congenial do you not? That proves that you DO HAVE CONTROL over yourself. The problem is not that you don’t have control over what you are saying and doing. The problem is that you think you are allowed to yell and scream, call names, and to intimidate because you feel wronged or afraid. Unfortunately, my profession has a lot to answer for giving people the idea that they need to “be honest” and “share their feelings”. Not yelling the minute you feel upset is not being dishonest or manipulative. It means you are a civilized human being. You can still convey what needs to be conveyed and you can be kind. Sharing your feelings does not mean you need to fall apart, even if that’s how you are feeling inside. If the British people could “keep calm and carry on” when Hitler was bombing London, or at least attempt to do so, we can keep calm and learn how to communicate in a kind, civilized way. Yes, we can.