Have you ever noticed that right when you’re about to have a conflict with your spouse or partner you have a moment during which you ask yourself why you’re being so crazy?
Maybe you’re yelling loudly, or cursing, or just can’t stop arguing your point. Or maybe you notice you feel so angry about this thing, but in reality it’s not really that important.
I’ve been there, and as a couples counselor in Atlanta, I’ve worked with plenty of couples who might struggle with this.
There are PLENTY of reasons you could be doing this. It could be your past (as in how your family of origin responded to conflict, or feelings, or fights.) It could be trauma (as in you have some past experiences that cause you to go into fight flight or freeze when you experience certain triggers). It could be lots of things.
And while I would love to go into the two I mentioned above (because as a couples therapist in Atlanta I know just how important working on those things can be), I’m not going to. Instead, I’d like to teach you a little tool that can help in these moments of irrational responses during conflict.
When you notice your emotions starting to rise, and you recognize you may go into some responses that are hot helpful….HALT.
This acronym stands for the following:
The idea is, that when you have these needs it can be difficult to address the problem at hand, because these needs may overshadow them. So, if you’re hungry, eat before you respond so that your body has the nourishment it needs. If you’re angry, explore that feeling. Often times anger is at the surface and deeper more vulnerable feelings are underneath the surface. Try to find those rather than responding in anger. If you’re lonely, see if you can find a way to connect. If you’re tired, you need sleep! Sleep! Sleep! I use exclamations because I really DO NOT do well without sleep. And neither does your body.
Obviously there is so much more to our conflict than just this little acronym. But I can’t express how this simple tool has changed interactions for me. When I come home after a day at the office, I am so hungry. My spouse may have the best intentions of greeting me, but early in our relationship I found myself feeling really irritable about the greeting. When I checked in on it, it was because I’m simply hungry when I first get home. So, I started going for a healthy and nourishing snack as soon as I got home, and it really changed the irritability and made me much more pleasant. Simple example, but you get the point.
If you could use help processing feelings, or finding the cause of some of your HALTs, feel free to reach out and schedule an appointment.