Chris WrightChris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world. He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada. Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas. He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs. As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace. He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Host: Can I always de-escalate the pressure?
Chris Wright: That s the part two here, the first was, is that there are ways to defuse it but sometimes you no; the pressure is built up way too much. Maybe the person has had a very difficult week or there is just way too much pressure inside and so what they really need to do is be able to discharge the pressure. Actually, there is two different ways that the physiology was designed to deal with over longing pressure. You see it in small children and babies. The neurology is designed that when a pressure builds up, that what a baby naturally starts to do when they are that distressed, they start to cry, that they become emotional and that the crying as if discharging or releasing of all that pressure inside the system.
So indeed there is many times where there is way too much pressure and what the person really needs to do is lay down and cry. For us to create a safe healing context and it is one of the tools that we teach. Actually there is a number of different elements or facets of processing. A way of realizing or discharging the tension we teach, from lighter tension where, at one end the safe way to get something on the way to the party and we are late and the woman was new and she screwed up the whole thing and it took five, ten minutes for her just to get the taping right and by the time I got in the car, I am so full of pressure inside. So what is the way that I can discharge that pressure that is healthy, that is clean? So I do not just get in the car and start complaining and dumping on everybody and you move up the scale, other things that are more heart felt, that are more powerful, that are more painful, that are more frustrating. Variety of tools for dealing with tensions that comes up in a way, that allows me to move through it, all the way to the most fortified tool. So when I get triggered by something, that really deeply connects to me, that you and I could go into the bedroom, for example and lay down and we would have a framework that allows me, to open up to that and move not just to the current pressure, that triggered it, but actually regress back to the original pain, the original insecurities or events that happen deep inside and regress to those and finally move through those, finally heal those together. There s frameworks that make that a safe process, a very heart felt process, a very vulnerable process together. So at the end, I feel this real sense of healing, something that is been down there, I have needed to go through and finally complete. So one of the options there is when I am so filled up with tension, is how could I process it, how could I discharge that. The second way that the physiology is designed to deal with that level of tension is rest. Rest is a natural healer, we build up so much fatigue and tension, we would get a good night sleep and we wake up feeling refreshed. The rest naturally normalizes the pressures, the tensions, the tiredness in the system. So there is sometimes where a situation comes up there is so much pressure, what we need to do right now is rest, is relax. That is called a time out, in the time out, we give you an option, you come to me, you are really upset and I say, well, well, time out here. We have two options, we can go back in the bedroom, lay down and we can set up a process to go through this. The process can be one where you are just sharing about it, the earlier column, where you open up and share your ninety s and we follow the framework there that makes us say, well, if there is more tension than that, then fine, you can move into a even more fortified structure and discharge some of the pressures, some of the tensions, coming up in a way that is completely safe for both of us, that feels healing for you. So you have that option, time out, let s go process it, you can choose to process it or let s have a time out from each other for a while now. Let s rack at this issue and let s talk about it tonight, when we feel more centered in ourselves or this weekend, when we have more time. So you have either option, if we choose the option, we have a time out, then let s get away from each other for the time being here, if you are upset, you are welcome to stay in this space, but you need to honor the space, you can not walk around and keep contributing pressure and tension into the space. So maybe you need to take a walk or go to the gym or go be with some friends or get on the computer, whatever you need to do to protect your well being and protect our space.
So we will both be honoring it during this phase, during this time, where we really allow the system to recollect itself, to balance itself. Then we are going to come back and talk about it. But before we come back to talk about it, we teach couples to really, really do some reflecting and we give them a checklist and I will look through the checklist with you in a moment, to really look and see, what is this really about. So that when we come back to talk about it, we can talk about it from a wise perspective, from a vulnerable perspective, from a perspective of being the team again. I have really kind of done my homework, both of us have, about what this is about and what really needs to happen and that would be healthy.
So instead of coming from our anger and making the other wrong, we are coming back together now to resolve something that is very important, that needs to be handled. So let s look at the list of questions that you would ask yourself, in this in term period. The first would be about you, what is this really about, are you really upset, what got triggered, I know your partner did something that really hurt your feelings or made you angry. But what got triggered in you, what is the insecurity, other people, maybe that is not such a big deal or maybe they would have to be a saint, but not everybody is triggered by everything that you are triggered by and so you would want to look and see, what is this really about? Secondly, you want to look at partner s point of view, what is going on in their world that would account for, for what shows up. Everything that shows up in our personality comes from these pressures inside, there is nothing that really shows up that what they do or say or act, that is neutral. It s always because there are some need or some pressure underline it that would draw them to move in that direction or that direction. So what were the needs? After all you need to remember, if you were the Enneagram type, their wings and lines, feeling those pressures, with the week that they have had, with the way they were brought up, you would respond the exact same way.
These are very strong pressures driving them, the same strong pressures that made you upset, they are very difficult to navigate. So if you put yourself in their world, it really take some of the air out of your sails, some of the righteousness out of your sense that you are right and they are wrong, no they are struggling, you are struggling, it s hard to be human. Once you understand what those are and now when you go to talk to them that is going to make a real difference. Then as you move in to the next one, what could I have done differently? Really, what could have, what could have prevented this? How could you been more proactive in a way that you would have seen this coming or responded differently in this situation that would have defused it immediately?
The relating tools, why did not you use the relating tools from your side, even though you are the one that got triggered, immediately could have shifted into their world and would have defused the whole thing, they could have used and look it to see what are the strategies, that you could have used together that would have made a difference. So in the future, you can talk about that one, you meet together about where you all need to be stronger and how you respond to each other. So you do not fall into these traps, it s not necessary to trigger these things. Lastly, what solutions would you take into account? Both person s needs, this does not happen again, each of our needs are difficult, they are difficult pressures and so what can we do in the future? How can we respond in the future? What is the solution so we do not have to do this again? And then what would reinforce this solution? Because clearly it s not going to be easy to counter these needs. So if you go through this in your mind or write it out, then when you come to sit down and have the conversation, you are really prepared to be wise here, you are really looking to establish something that is heart felt, you are preserving some precious, delicate feelings together that are important to preserve instead of making each other wrong and getting each other all upset.
You are working through something as a team, so having these skills, making them natural to your personality are important for all of us.