Avoiding Harmful Patterns of Interaction during Stressful Times
Updated: May 3
For many people the stay-at-home lock down we all have had to endure has brought about stress and with that harmful patterns of communicating with each other. Two dangerous patterns are escalation and invalidation.
Escalation is when we negatively respond back and forth with another person. Often our communication spirals into increasing anger and frustration. One of the damaging things about escalation is that we tend to say things to each other that threaten the well being of our relationship. As frustration and anger mount, people tend to say things that hurt the other, things that they later regret.
It is very important that both individuals work to stop the escalation process before it erupts into a full blown, ugly fight. When you realize you are starting to escalate take a time out. Say something like: "Honey, I am getting worked up. Lets talk about this after dinner, when we both have had something to eat. I am hungry and tired now"
Invalidation is another harmful pattern in which one person puts down, dismisses, belittles and/or ridicules the thoughts, feelings or character of another. This lowers the self-esteem of the targeted person. Invalidation is highly toxic and will eventually lead to a break down in a relationship.
To prevent invalidation, both individuals need to work to show respect for and acknowledge the other's viewpoint. You don't have to agree with the other person to validate her/him. Statements like " I see this is very important to you" or "I see you have given this a lot of thought", will build intimacy, reduce anger and resentment in the relationship.
If you have negative patterns of interaction in your relationship, they have probably existed for some time. If you can't stop these negative patterns on your own, it is time to get professional help before these patterns do irreversible harm.
Interview with Helen Rudinsky & Mary Collins: