Breaking the Cycle

Because you’re human, you will succumb to negativity from time to time. When a couple knows how to get out of a negative cycle, that’s a beautiful thing. If you & your mate have a habit of getting stuck there, you must learn to both acknowledge & describing the cycle you create together.

The Elephant in the Room

You know when you’re in a negative cycle. Nothing gets resolved. The problem is neither of you slows down long enough to acknowledge that you’re in your negative cycle … again. But that’s the first step to breaking the cycle.

However, the distinct phases of your negative cycle aren’t always that easy to define …

  • because it happens so quickly &
  • because you are both emotionally charged.

Describing How Things Go South

1. Trigger

A trigger is anything that activates an immediate, intense, vulnerable emotion, such as anger, fear, hurt, sadness, shame, or guilt.

  • Emotions can be triggered by your own thoughts & memories.
  • Emotions can be triggered by your mate’s words & actions.

2. Reaction

Your first reaction to the trigger — whether internal or external — is to protect yourself. Usually by attacking, blaming, or criticizing the one who “started it.”

3. Counteraction

The natural, knee-jerk response to being attacked is to defend oneself. Usually by explaining what happened or trying to control the attacker’s overwhelming emotions.

And counteractions always serve as new triggers that keep the negative cycle going until one or both of you become exhausted enough to stop — for the moment, that is.

4. Repeat or Resolution?

  1. Are you able to acknowledge — to one another — that you are in your negative cycle again?
  2. Can you describe your position, feelings, & actions in the cycle?

This questionnaire can help you describe what happens.

One Reply to “Breaking the Cycle”

  1. Your PowerPoint is exactly the topic of our session today. More confirmation that I have work ahead for me to recognize and understand how to defeat triggers and resolve negative cycles.
    Thank you Dr. Smith!!

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