As a Gottman trained couples therapist, I strive to help couples understand that their main goal in their relationship is not to avoid conflict but to manage conflict effectively.
We need to be fully aware that we are only human! meaning that we are all different, that we all have different perspectives, we have different thinking, assumptions and values that make up the position that we hold and is not about if it is right or wrong in a relationship, it just simply is! …therefore, sometimes we cannot avoid conflict when we are interacting with our Significant Other because it’s more likely that at some point in time, we are going to have different opinions about a specific subject.
However, what really matters is the way that we manage conflict. During conflict is easy to blame and attack our partner but that behaviour usually escalates even more conflict which can be very destructive for the relationship.
One of the techniques that help couples to de-escalate conflict is ‘self-soothing’ which refers to any behaviour an individual uses to regulate their emotional state by themselves.
Self-soothing is a way in which we treat ourselves to feel better, so that we can move forward, and past any negativity. A simple deep breath can help you to calm down so you can see the bigger picture.
Here are four suggestions that I encourage you to use to practice self-soothing:
Avoid taking your partner’s behaviour personally
Put the current conflict into perspective
Strive to regulate your emotions by taking a deep breath
Stop the negative thinking
In this way, we will be able to step into conflict understanding each other’s perspectives more, and being able to demonstrate that we get what our partner is saying with validation, which is critical in feeling understood. This is only possible if we consciously practice self-soothing.