How to GO CALM Before Things Get Out of Control

Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or any personal relationship, there are definitely things that can trigger you that cause you to become reactive. Therefore, it’s important to be able to dial down your emotions before they make you say or do things you will regret later.  The next time you find yourself on the verge of another conflict, here is a powerful tool that you can use to avoid stepping on a landmine that explodes into a blowout situation.
  1. Gauge what’s happening.

Gauge what is happening between you and the other person when you’re interacting.  Are we talking over each other? Is the volume amping up? Are we becoming defensive? What is happening between the two of us right now, that is going on? If that’s happening, then we know that we are starting in that acting-out phase of a conflict.
  1. Observe what your body is telling you. 

We have a protective system that shows up, especially when we are being triggered. These triggers come from our implicit memory system, which is a repository of feelings. They’re not memories, they’re emotional memories.  Use the body’s wisdom to infer what’s going on for yourself. Come into your body and get present with what’s happening right now.
  1. Concentrate on your breathing.

Take a deep breath, hold it, and slowly release it. Do that a few times and your physiological system starts to calm down. Your heart rate will start to calm down and your body will start to relax. Your mind will become more calm and alert, and your emotions will start to settle down. 
  1. Ask.

Invite the other person to calm down.  Here’s a quick script:  “I noticed that things are starting to amp up. How about if we just both take a step back? Can we both calm down?” By asking, you’re inviting the other person to sit in that space that you got yourself into. It’s healthy and more suited to resolve whatever’s happening between the two of you.
  1. Listen first.

You’ve brought the interaction into a safe place, but you’re continuing to be respectful to the other person by telling them to talk first and that you will listen. Here’s a quick script:  “Why don’t you talk first and I’ll listen. This way I can understand where you’re coming from.” Imagine being on the receiving end of that when you’re feeling upset and defensive. And all of a sudden your partner allows you to talk first so they can listen to understand where you’re coming from. 
  1. Measure your words carefully.

A good place to start is by validating the other person before you express your opinion.  Here’s a quick script:  “This is what I’m hearing you say… am I getting that right?” Here, you’re taking a conflict into a really calmer space where you can resolve it, understand each other, and get through it in a way that you both feel safe. If you want to learn more about how to GO CALM before things get out of control, check out