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  • Couples: How to Regulate Yourself During Difficult Conversations

    Sharing your life with someone means having open and honest conversations, even when those conversations are a bit difficult. But that’s easier said than done.

    During hard conversations, it’s common to become triggered by something your partner has said. Calm one moment, but the next you’re thrown into “fight or flight” mode, when your brain is sensing danger. Before you know it, the most primitive part of your brain is activated in an effort to help you survive. And this is when things can get ugly.

    It’s almost impossible to speak calmly and rationally when your entire body is in survival mode.

    Fortunately, there are things you can do during difficult conversations to regulate your emotional responses and keep yourself calm and level-headed.

    1. Pause and Breathe

    As soon as you start to feel triggered, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. While deep breathing may seem like a cliche, it is actually a very powerful process that helps get you out of “fight or flight” mode and into a more relaxed state.

    When you breathe slowly and deeply, it sends a signal to your brain that you are out of danger, and no longer in need of protecting yourself from perceived danger.

    2. Use Your Senses

    Another effective way to regulate your emotions in the moment is to focus your attention on a physical sensation. You could take a sip of water and really feel the sensation of drinking, or you could run your fingers along the seam of the sofa cushion to feel where you are in the moment. The point is to slow yourself down before you react in an unhelpful way.

    3. Listen Fully

    It is so common in a conversation to listen to form a response. But when you do this, it is far easier to selectively hear what you want and not fully take in what the other person is really saying. Be sure to listen to know, not to form a response.

    Difficult conversations are inevitable when you are in any kind of relationship. But if you use these tips to regulate yourself, you can remain calm and communicate effectively with your partner.

    Want to learn more about how to have effective communication in the safety and comfort of a group setting?

    I lead the following group twice monthly:

    Happy Relationships Happy Life

    use this link to learn more:


    How to Self-Regulate During a Difficult Conversation