How to Control Your Reactions When Triggered In Your Relationship

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I'm a certified coach and work with grumpy girlfriends who want to dump the grump and enjoy their good relationships.

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Having a girlfriend pokerface helps you calm down and get access to your intelligent brain before choosing how to respond.
Having a girlfriend pokerface gives you the opportunity to calm down and make choices that serve you and your relationship.

Girlfriend grumpiness usually presents itself in two ways; internal grumpiness consisting of thoughts and feelings, and external grumpiness in the form of actions, ie. everything you do or don’t do. What if there was a simple way of eliminating unwanted reactions when your grumpiness, jealousy, or insecurity is triggered? I’m here to tell you there is!

When my clients come to me, there are usually two main problems they’re looking to solve; how they feel in their relationships and how they act in their relationships. Naturally, these two are intimately connected to each other. For some girlfriends, the internal experience is a priority and for some, the external behavior causes more pain.

So to kill two birds with one stone, I teach them how to control their reactions when they are triggered. Because this teaches them not only to manage their primitive, (not so charming) behaviors. It also teaches them how to change their relationship to emotions in their bodies.

I truly believe that being able to manage your reactions is the first step in any girlfriend glow-up journey. It gives you a simple process to follow when you’ve been triggered in order to get control back.

But Katrin, am I really supposed to pretend everything is fine when it’s not?

This is a common misconception about controlling your reactions. It can easily sound like “tell yourself everything is fine and sweep it under the rug”. That’s not what we’re talking about here.

When I say “control your reactions”, I’m referring to the primitive behavior that is being fueled by your really intense jealousy, anxiety, or fear. When those emotions are running wild through your body, there is a very specific set of “survival” behaviors that are queued up. Behaviors that usually don’t serve you in the big picture, like snapping at your partner, disconnecting from them, saying something you later regret, and so on.

The goal here is to control your primitive reactions by processing the emotion instead of obeying it. When done successfully, you’ll get access to your intelligent brain once again.

When you have gotten your human brain back and you can think about things from a logical rather than survival perspective… that is when you decide if something is a problem or not. That is when you decide how to respond or what decisions to make. That’s when you have a conversation with your partner about what is going on.

This is not about pretending everything is fine. This is about giving yourself the opportunity to use your intelligent brain to decide if it’s fine or not. Because your primitive brain might be reacting to a lot of dangers that aren’t actually problems in the relationship.

Okay, but my partner always notices when something is wrong… how can I hide it better?

No matter if you’ve been with your partner for 4 months or 8 years, they will probably be pretty sensitive to your mood changes by now. Especially if you’ve spent a lot of that time emotionally punishing them for things they say or do that trigger you. So yes, they will probably notice that something is wrong. Their “grumpy girlfriend spider-sense” is well-calibrated.

I want to offer you that it’s not a problem if your partner notices something. I know for a lot of girlfriends, this has become a conflict trigger in the relationship and if that’s the case for you I get that you want to avoid it at all costs. But it’s really not a problem if your partner notices that something is wrong while you’re working on processing the emotion and not reacting to it.

In order for you to truly believe that it’s not a problem if your partner notices, you need to believe that your reaction isn’t a problem. Being triggered by something doesn’t mean anything other than “this thing triggered a thought in my mind, this thought feels like ass in my body”. That’s it. It’s literally not a problem. So if you can create a more relaxed relationship with your own triggers, you’ll be much better equipped to not make your partner’s reaction to your reaction a problem.

But if you want some tips on how to act normal while processing emotions and controlling your reactions, check out this episode of The Grumpy Girlfriend Podcast:

Fine, I get why controlling my reactions is a good idea… but how do I do it?

Great question! Since this is one of the top problems among grumpy girlfriends, I decided to create a free guide that walks you through the four steps of controlling your reactions when triggered.

After downloaded it you’ll also get access to a video walk-through where I explain exactly how to apply it to your day-to-day life.

Want the guide? Fill out this form and I’ll send it over.

Controlling your reactions is the first step all girlfriends need to learn and practice in order to change how they show up in their relationships. Being able to feel an emotion without obeying it and acting on it (whether that is fighting, fleeing, freezing, or fawning) is a key foundation for all the work that comes after.

So, get to work and you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes when you allow yourself to process and hold space for an emotion long enough for it to fizzle out. At that point, you won’t feel as strong of a need to act cray cray as you initially did.

xo Katrin

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