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How and Why to Slow Down when Arguments get Heated

Have you ever been in an argument and thought: “How did we get here?” or “What are we even fighting about?” or “Wow, that escalated quickly.” If the answer is yes, then you are pretty normal. Let’s break down how to avoid heated arguments.  

First, WHY slow things down when in an argument.  

Our brain codes a disconnection or fight with our partner as a “life or death” situation. That is why we may say things we don’t mean or can’t say anything at all during an argument. All of our rational and logical thinking fly out the window and our brains move into fight, flight, or freeze. AKA how to save yourself in a life or death situation. When we are in this very normal fight, flight, or freeze state it is nearly impossible to think clearly, find empathy, understand yourself and your partner, and reasonably figure out the problem. Although this state is normal, it is not helpful to promoting love and connection in our relationships. This is why slowing down is SO important. 

Now, HOW to slow things down when in an argument.  

Our brains and bodies work together to tell us a “life or death” situation is happening and prepares us to fight, flight or freeze. You have probably noticed these signs before:  

  • Heart racing 

  • Thoughts racing or blank 

  • Feeling hot or sweating 

  • Muscles tense  

  • Stomach hurting  

  • Chest tightening  

These are the cues saying “we are preparing to fight, flight, or freeze.” It is important to notice what specifically happens to YOU. The second you notice, it is time to slow down to signal to your body “everything is okay and safe.” This way your rational and logical thinking can stay online. This is how you do it: 

  • Breathe slowly in the moment 

  • Close your eyes 

  • Break eye contact  

  • Sit down  

  • Talk slow and low  

  • Take a moment to yourself  

When we slow things down, our rational and logical thinking stay online instead of going offline during fight, flight, or freeze. We are able to have empathy, understand our emotions and our partner’s perspective, and there is a much better chance at coming to a resolution. This takes practice and that’s okay!  

 

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