You may have sometimes felt you are getting into the ‘same old’ arguments which prick your anger or hurt in a familiar way. “Here we go again,” you might have said to yourself. Unpicking which emotions are under the surface during one of these arguments – are you feeling threatened, criticised, unloved, under-valued, abandoned, isolated, or unheard (or a combination of all of the above)? - can be surprising and enlightening. You can learn to identify these sort of conflict dialogues and work out what is really going on below the surface.
Looking at your past relationships may be one key to this. Trying to work out what your partner in the argument might be feeling can also guide you so that you may be able to stop the recurrence of these old arguments. When you have an argument with someone who is important to you, you may feel anxious about the potential breaking of your bond with this person. Some people worry less or more about potential threats to their relationships, usually due to what they have experienced with other significant relationships in their past (this is explored in the field of attachment theory). To lessen the fear of these perceived threats, a step back is needed, an attempt to stay calm and notice what emotions are being triggered in you.
When you are feeling calmer (in the counselling room, for example), your brain will allow you to think more clearly and we can discuss your instinctive reactions to arguments – do you lash out with angry words or clam up and retreat? - and what responses do your actions effect in others? What is really behind these types of reactions and responses? You may start to see there is hurt and longing behind superficial anger, for example.
You can learn and practice phrases which help you feel more assertive and communicate more openly. You can build confidence in talking all these ideas through with a non-judgemental and supportive counsellor. And you can start to see yourself (and partner) in a more understanding and compassionate way, re-build trust where it is due, and be able to deal with conflicts as they arise in a more non-defensive and positive way.
Counselling can be a helpful place to gain some distance from an emotional battleground, in a non-judgemental relationship with someone who is not personally involved.