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  • Emotional Flooding: Navigating Stormy Waters in Relationship Conflicts

    Conflict with our partners can sometimes feel like being caught in a tempest. The waves of emotion crash over us, leaving us disoriented and overwhelmed. This phenomenon is known as emotional flooding, and it can wreak havoc on relationships. But fear not! Here are practical strategies to keep your emotional ship afloat during stormy seas:

    1. Recognize the Riptide: When you’re flooded, your rational thinking takes a backseat. Your sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear, preparing you for battle or flight. Your prefrontal cortex—the center of higher cognition—goes offline. Suddenly, you’re in fight mode, hurling angry words, or in flight mode, retreating into icy silence.

    2. Commit to Self-Soothe: Accept that your perception during flooding is unreliable. Picture your partner at their best—those moments of love, generosity, and care. Remind yourself that your urge to blame or catastrophize isn’t accurate. Take a 20-minute time-out if possible, and commit to returning to the conversation when you’re calmer.

    3. Set Boundaries: When flooded, tell your partner you need a break. Use phrases like, “Let’s take a breather” or “I’m feeling overwhelmed.” Assure them you’ll revisit the discussion when both of you are ready.

    4. Visualize Calm Waters: Imagine a serene moment with your partner. Recall breakfasts shared or favorite date nights. This mental image can anchor you during emotional storms.

    5. Avoid Escalation: Don’t attack character or issue threats. Instead, focus on specific issues. Approach conflicts with a problem-solving attitude.

    Remember, emotional flooding is contagious. When one person is flooded, it can trigger the same response in their partner. By mastering these techniques, you’ll navigate the choppy waters of conflict with grace and resilience.

    If you and your partner are experiencing this or other challenges, therapy can help.  Please reach out, I would love to speak about working together.