Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what we are lacking in when it comes to our communication skills. I am an extrovert, and love being with people. However, I was a champion “stonewaller” at the beginning of our marriage, meaning I would just clam up and go silent when I got triggered or upset. I vividly remember being in our student apartment on 200 north in Provo, and abruptly leaving the room we were talking in. Craig followed me into the next room and said, “You can’t do that! You can’t just leave and just shut down!” I remember feeling empty and overwhelmed at the same time, like I didn’t have the tools to stay and bravely talk about what was frustrating me. I didn’t know how to do that. It felt too scary. It just seemed safer for me to clam up and hold in my frustrations and feelings.
Instead of communicating with love, I was silent, trying to influence the outcome by being punishing–”If you don’t agree with me then I will withdraw!” Through the years I learned that the outcome was always better if I could be open and communicate, instead of shutting down and putting up a wall.
It has taken me years to overcome this, and know when I get triggered, I have learned I have a distorted thought. As I examine the thought to find out what the truth is, I can usually see what the problem is and self-correct. This is cognitive behavior therapy, and some of my family and I took a class on how to spot distorted thoughts, stop trying to control, and to be able to see shame on one end of a spectrum and self-adulation on the other, among other things. This class taught me how to search for what the truth is whenever I get triggered. If I can’t figure it out, I can ask someone for help. We that took this class often call each other to say what our trigger was, get help finding the distorted thought and then ask what the truth is. This is a powerful way to go into distortion less and less, as we keep using these skills to get better at not getting triggered.2
Jodi Hildenbrandt is the therapist that taught the class and she taught us the R.A.I.S.E. process:
- Recognize your feelings or triggers. (She says feelings and triggers are the same thing.)
- Ask for validation.
- Invite feedback.
- Spot your distortions. (When we invite feedback other people can help us spot our distortions. This is one of the most freeing things we can do when we can finally see our distorted thoughts.)
- Embrace the truth.
In this video Jodi Hildenbrandt explains the R.A.I.S.E. process more fully. She says that people can Work through all the challenges of life and feel more love in this process of R.A.I.S.E.
As we work to control our thoughts and irritations with those around us, we can create a more loving and stable home. If we are prioritizing attaching to our children–loving and being with them, showing affection and delight– they can begin to feel and see what a loving relationship looks like. When we give them this gift of attachment and attention it will help them to be able to be better at discerning what is healthy and what is toxic.
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