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  • Writer's pictureNaëtt Atkinson

Stay calm in in high stress situations

Updated: May 30, 2022

I have a young client who booked a couple of conflict coaching sessions to help her prepare for her mother's second wedding. She is really happy for her mother and really unhappy about the family members that she will have to engage with before and on the wedding day and she doesn't want this to potentially spoil her mother's big day.

Big family gatherings tend to distress us. Especially if there are underlying issues from our childhood, or not, that have not been resolved. We tend to regress in our responses, play out our dramas in roles that have been well established for many years and because we recognise the patterns and know the drama we get sucked into, we are on our guard in anticipation of the worst outcome of events.

We replay the past and anticipated future scenarios, - built on the past experiences - , in our minds again and again. This leads to more anxiety, greater distress and the more emotionally overwhelmed we become the greater the conviction of being powerless.

My role is to make the scenarios in my client's head smaller. Give them the correct size and put them in the right place. Give her tools so that she can have the power to change how she plays her role in the drama and manage her own emotions and reactions.

Here are some of the concepts we have been working with that you could try:

1. Don't totalise

If an unpleasant incident happens don't let that colour all interaction. Ring-fence the incident. Bring the incident and it's impact back to size. You are the only one who gives it power and decide how much impact it has on your ability to stay centered and enjoy yourself or not.

Eliminate totalising language like "never, always".

2. Don't catastrophize

Refrain from making up catastrophes in your head that may or may not happen. Don't give free reign to assumptions. Don't decide beforehand that you know what other people's intentions or motivations are.

3. Practice your response if you get held hostage.

Acknowledge the past if the conversation calls for it, express that you had a role in it. Agree that a longer conversation needs to happen at some point, but also highlight a common shared goal for the weekend which is to make your mother's time really special.

4. Have safe people

Choose people that make you feel safe and have the ability to centre you or help you to calm down. Tell your safe people beforehand that you might need them and in what manner you would like them to support you. Either just be there for you, regulate your behaviour and help you to breathe, keep an eye on how much you drink. Safe people help to protect you from yourself.

5. Take charge and set the tone for the interaction

Don't hide or evade interaction. Walk up and greet first. If you prefer to do this with someone, ask that person to be with you to greet.

6. Create the version of events you want

Imagine how you would like it to be. How are people reacting, how are they being, what is everyone doing in your ideal version of the weekend? Our minds are powerful tools to help us change our mental models.

At Let's Resolve we help you create lasting changes in behaviour that will have a positive impact on all your relationships. We help you to minimise the behaviours and reactions that don't serve you. We minimise the impact of negative conflict in your life and we minimise your emotional overwhelm so you can maximise your productive responses to conflict.

Contact us for a free introduction.

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