How We Feed Of One Another’s Stress

This is a big one for me.

I reflected on this a bit this past week after my wife and I had a little argument. It was our first argument in quite some time. At least in the sense that we let it escalate beyond our normal, which usually involves us both speaking our truths (shout out Jim and Pam) and solving the issue right then and there. This hasn’t always been the case for us, but with both of us focusing on our own mindfulness practices, we have become expert arguers 🙂

Now admittedly, this week we were both feeling a bit more stressed than normal due to family in town for our baby shower. It’s not uncommon for one of us, or both of us to be a bit more quick to react during stressful weeks. This week, it happened to be both of us.

Now more often then not, we’re both feeling stressed because we feed off each other. What I mean is, if one of us is feeling stressed, the other likely feels it too. This is quite normal. It’s funny. If you’re around someone enough, no words need to even be spoken to feel their stress. Body language often times is enough. Palpable if you will. So how can we react differently in this situation?

The anecdote to this situation is when one person is feeling stressed, it’s important for the other to pause for a moment and observe. This weekend I learned the helpful acronym, STOP, for just the situation. S for stop, meaning stop and pause before reacting quickly. T for take a deep breath, or three of four, in through the nose and out through the mouth. O for observe. Take a moment to observe the other’s feelings, and your own for that matter. And give both of you feelings of compassion and empathy for the situation. And finally, P for proceed. By now, enough time will have lapsed that you both may proceed by gently letting those stressful feelings go.

Now this is absolutely easier said than done, I know. But trust me. If you can take a moment to pause, if only for a brief moment, to observe the situation and not add fuel to the fire, this will create the necessary space both of you desire to just let it go.

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