In a recent bulletin published on the Berkeley blog, author Linda Graham, MFT. explains how therapists—and couples themselves—can prevent conflicts from spiraling out of control.
“Mindfulness helps partners to regulate their own responses and more fully accept one another,” the researchers suggest, “resulting in less negative fallout from conflict when it arises.”
Drawing on her more than 20 years of experience working with couples in her marriage and family therapy practice, she developed a simple 3-step process to help partners practice mindfulness and better resolve their conflicts:
Step 1: Pay Attention
During a situation of conflict it helps to pay close attention to your own feelings and reactions without allowing them to take over. Be present in the moment and try to understand why you are feeling this way.
More often than not, what we react to is simply a symptom or results of a deeper conflict within ourselves or repressed emotions and finding out what that is helps us discuss the situation more clearly.
Step 2: Be Accepting
Accept not only your own feelings, emotions and irrational thoughts and behaviors – but your partners as well. Welcome them, this is an opportunity to truly connect and reach a deeper level in your relationship.
Be willing to make yourself vulnerable. Be open and accepting not only of your own pain, but to the criticism and the pain your words, actions and behaviors may have been caused your partner.
Step 3: Engage With Your Partner
Once you are aware of your own patterns and emotions and are open to making yourself vulnerable, it is time to engage with your partner and have a mindful conversation about the topic, your expectations, how you both really feel about the situation, and work things out together.
For more information about Linda Graham’s process and the research behind this post, this link will take you directly to the original entry on Berkeley’s blog.