Access this guide
Already a member? Login Here
Guide Overview

Calming Tips

Three practical tips to help you calm your nervous systems during a fight so that you can think more clearly as you work to find each other and reconnect.
February 24, 2023
Summary Notes


- Discuss the importance of cooling down in a conflict to shift from a defensive to a discovery-oriented mindset

- Mention that a lot of people make the mistake of trying to talk themselves into calmness, leading to escalation

Calming Techniques

- Introduce two techniques for calming down during a conflict: back-to-back breathing and pinky link

- Explain how these techniques help align nervous systems and promote calmness

Verbal Discussion

- Once both parties have calmed down, suggest taking turns speaking about what they want the other person to hear

- Emphasize the importance of active listening and writing down what the other person is saying

Conflict Notebook

- Suggest having a stash of conflict notebooks ready to go to use once both parties are calm

- Explain the importance of each person being both the speaker and writer, and taking turns

Solution Generation

- After both parties have spoken and listened, ask them to quietly come up with three solutions to the conflict

- Suggest that the solution should honor the dignity of all parties


- Suggest a full frontal hug after finding a solution that honors all parties

- Express gratitude for working through the conflict together.

No items found.

There are three things that you can do to help cool down the heat in a conflict in order to get to a place where you are more discovery oriented instead of defensively oriented first. Remember that we want to calm our bodies and our physical sensations before we try to talk about something. A lot of people do this backwards, including my son.

That we try to talk ourselves into calmness, so we try to get our point across in order to hope that the other person will receive it and calm us down by hearing us. But what happens in that experience actually is that they don't hear us because they're not calm yet. And so in our non-com dialogue, we actually escalate each other.

There's lots of ways that you can do that. But what I'm gonna recommend are two specific strategies for doing it in presence with each other so it doesn't feel like you're having to separate or go away, although you can do that if you need to. The first I'm gonna call back to back breathing. You simply put your backs to each other so that defensiveness feels like it gets its little nudge in, like, I'm not, I don't have to look at you right now, but you're putting your backs together and then you start to breathe slowly and you focus on sinking up your breathing.

If they're going, you're trying to go at the same time and out at the same time, you're helping your nervous systems to align. The second I'm gonna call the pinky link is it as far apart as you need to sit in order to help your body feel safe. But then I want you to take your little tiny pinkies and link them together while you breathe during the pinky link or the back to back breathing.

I do not want you. Any verbal discussion whatsoever, you are simply breathing, relaxing, and focusing your attention on staying connected and calm to your partner. Now, after you've gotten to a place where you both feel calm, I want you to take turns speaking about what you want the other person to hear.

This is gonna seem rather nerdy, but I promise it will help. While the other person is speaking, I want you to have a piece of paper and a pencil, and I want you to be writing verbatim their. I don't want you to be interpreting it. I don't want you to be trying to add any of your own arguments. Simply what is, what are they saying?

Exactly? Write it down, and as you write it down, I want you to say is, so you just said blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Am I getting that right? What you're doing is you're helping your brain to absorb the messages, the underlying messages of the other person without trying to defend yours at the same time.

Now, when you are the writer and you're receiving. You need to be letting yourself take that in in such a way that's really honoring that they're trying to tell you something. And when you're the speaker, you wanna be saying things in a way that the other person can hear without having to be defensive.

So let's say that you are having a conflict because you feel like your partner is not doing as much work around the house as you are. And this is an extremely triggering dynamic for the two of you. So you've said something. . Hey, I thought you were gonna empty the dishwasher tonight. And your partner's like, I haven't gotten around to it yet.

And then, okay, so now you've escalated. I want you to notice the escalation. Oh, we're in a hot zone. Things are hot. It's time for us to calm our bikes. Somebody has to say, Hey, I need us to do back-to-back breathing or a pinky link before we have this convers. Try one, then try the other. Have a stash of conflict notebooks that you have ready to go, that you can pull out so that once you're both calm, you each take out your notebook.

Flip going for who goes first. After each of you has had a chance to be both the speaker and the writer, or the receiver and listener, I want you to then very quietly to yourself, come up with three solutions, three different things that you think that you could do as a team, as a couple to help make this.

And after you come to something that feels like it honors the dignity of all parties, I want you to go back to touching. But this time, instead of pinkies and backs full frontal hugging, put your arms around each other. Take a deep breath and say something really sweet. Like, whatever we go through, we go through together.

Thank you for hanging with me through that conflict. That was hard, but we did it.