I am given a heads-up by my partner that she needs to express something to me. “It may sound blunt”, she says, “but I need to express it”. I brace myself knowing that this will be one of those “conversations” that is going to get me emotionally activated.
I’m not wrong, she begins to express her distrust in my ability to complete a particular task, that I am repeating old patterns of behaviour, that are not serving me. I feel my anger beginning to bubble. This is the first sign that she is pointing at a truth. This truth is painful for me to admit and so I begin to get more and more uncomfortable.
This is what I call an emotionally hot situation. I now have a choice point; I can either grit my teeth and reject what she is saying, defending myself with excuses, and how she is the one I don’t trust, and hope that I can deflect some of her observations, or I can receive it all, and more importantly feel it all.
The common societal norm at this point is to engage in a battle of wits, and accusations. It becomes a match of shit throwing, hoping that it will land on the other person, so as to make us feel better. The truth is at that point the communication has broken down and it is extremely hard to regain this, without simply walking away, or bouncing out and cooling off hoping that the emotions can subside over time.
The truth is that by doing this, the emotinal impact is never really dealt with. What happens instead is that a small piece of resentment builds in our system, and will come out sideways at the next emotionally charged exchange. This type of resilience is all to common, its a way of enduring in relationship. This is resilience in survival mode.
I want to argue that there is another way. What if I told you that with the right tools, language and techniques, you could actually achieve a level of resilience that meant you could thrive while being resilient, and not just survive?
Well there is a way and here is how.
Communication is everything here. As honest and as descriptive as it can be, we must articulate our emotions and thoughts without the other person judging the expression. Allow yourself to receive it all. Express how their expression has impacted you. This is the first stage of the interaction. Without this we cannot stay empowered and centred. My partner and I are at the stage where we are very good at preparing the landscape prior to expressing, rather that just coming out of the gate with a fiery expression. Giving us a chance to prepare ourselves.
Upon receiving the other persons full expression, it is very easy to let our emotions guide our actions, instead express a wanting to absorbe what was just expressed to you. This lets the other person know you have heard them and are checking in with yourself as to how it feels. This also allows you to make an assessment of what feels true and what does not. Be careful here, as the ego can interject and find ways to reject any accusation, for fear of the truth being exposed, you becoming humbled and the ego suffering an “ego death”.
If you are able to master this first phase of any argument or reflection, then you are displaying high levels of thriving resilience. From here you can now progress on to the second phase of communication. By repeating back someones observations of you, you can begin to clarify their expression and create a shared reality. It is here that you can express back anything that you feel you do not relate to and what you see as an area for you to improve or change.
The exchange can go back and forth, each allowing the other person to fully express. Being aware of any triggers that come up in this exchange is vitally important, as these are signs of a truth that you may not want to admit. If this does happen, then simply express the impact, taking full responsibility for your own feelings. Remember, nobody can make us feel anything, our emotions are our own, and if we are triggered then it is something that is inside of us, the other person has just been the catalyst in exposing that trigger, that is now ready to be integrated, dissolved or alchemised. It is very easy at this point to regress back to projecting and rejecting the other persons expression. Do your best to repeat the first phase.
If we see an argument or expression as a circle, with the desired ending one of happiness, lightness and insight, coming when we return back to love, then the half way mark is one where we are fully activated, angry, or crying with sadness, what ever it may be. This is the point where most arguments break down. It becomes so intense that one or both parties want to simply remove themselves from that discomfort. I want to point out that at no point is it acceptable to express with physical violence towards the other person. But I must stress that full verbal and emotional expression is vital.
Once you have experienced a full circle and completed the exchange you will see the power and possitive effect it can have on your relationships. This does however take practice. I want to share some key pointers and tips that can support you:
- Do not make assumptions about what the other person is feeling or thinking, ask.
- Always own your triggers
- Do not judge the other persons expression
- Take regular deep breaths, to help you remain centred
- Maintain eye contact and face each other
- Thank each other for having the courage to fully express how they are feeling
- Once the circle is complete, integrate the lessons and let it go, holding grudges is an incomplete circle.
As I have mentioned it takes practice to build up this type of thriving resilience, but once you have experienced the result of doing it this way, you will see that it is worth staying in the heat of the moment and not bouncing out. Resilience is not about gritting your teeth and surviving, it is about thriving, even when the heat is on!
Adam Gornall is a father, author, resilience & relationship coach and former Royal Marine Commando. He spends his days walking his dog Leo, taking ice baths, working from home, surrounded by nature and friends. He plans to build a huge Viking Hall were he will host mens retreats to help them find their Peace, Power and Purpose. If you are interested in finding out more visit: