Managing Incoming - Short List (When You're Flooded)
The expression “flooded”, coined by John Gottman, means: “I'm receiving too much input about how I'm disappointing you or haven't performed well. I’m getting overwhelmed and defensive. I’m going down. May day. May day. Please, no more, at least for now.”
Here's your short list, if this happens:
1) "I don't think I'm comfortable talking about this right now. Could we come back to this in a while- like in about _____ (i.e. 30 minutes, tomorrow, or with our coach etc.)?" or…
2) "I think I'm feeling flooded. I'm really sorry about this. Would you like to join me for 5 minutes of personal prayer and meditation?"
Note: This is not a couple prayer. This is individual meditation and/or prayer, but done in the same room as each other so as to create support vs. abandonment.
3) Use of a pre-agreed signal, indicating that you're getting flooded, or are flooded i.e.
a) Hold up a white sock.
b) Rehearse a pre-agreed phrase like, "This is kind of a one foot in front of the other moment."
c) Turn a picture of yourself and your spouse upside down and put it where it can be seen etc. or...
...if you're at a breaking point…
4) "I'm going to go get some time out" or…
5) (in a cascading melt-down) just quietly get up and walk out.
Please note that options 3, 4 and 5 include some pre-agreements:
a) Pre-agree to come back in a reasonable amount of time at which point you could perhaps even invite your spouse into a short meditation and/or prayer (after your time out). If you do choose to pray with your spouse please keep it general i.e. "please bless us to progress toward love and consciousness etc." vs. "Please help my wife to pull herself together" etc. and...
b) Pre-agree to work with the "Walk List” and/or "Breakthrough” while on your walk. This will assist you in getting out of “fight or flight.”
c) Agree to not return to the conversation until you are both ready and have chosen the format i.e. a "Real Conversation" and/or "Love Seat."
Note that all of the above is only if you choose not to listen - not to let your spouse bleed out his or her feelings of upset and disappointment, which often can be a miraculous moment. But only you know what you can handle. You're the control tower for your airport.
Please get familiar with the whole of Managing Incoming.