Step 3: Repair
When we have been triggered by something that someone has said or done, there is a good chance that in the heat of the moment, we have said or done something out of a need for protection that caused a bit of a dent in the relationship.
As humans, we can tolerate some dents in our relationships, but what happens when we don’t repair the dents? Think about the body of a car, yes that’s right—it ends up looking like a wreck!
So, nervous system mastery number 3 is repair—we go back to our loved one and we say sorry for what was said in the heat of the moment because our brain had gone offline temporarily. Our amygdala registers threats during an argument and we are flooded with limbic system activity—strong emotions—whilst our prefrontal cortex (the part of our brain responsible for logic, rational decisions, empathy and insight) is offline. This causes us to say things that match the intense rage, anger or insecurity we are feeling, without being able to keep our sights on what is best for the relationship which is unity, teamwork and shared understanding.
Dr. Dan Siegel highlights the importance of repairs after a rupture. Relationships can withstand some dents as long as they don’t go too long without a repair.
A repair can be as simple as “I am really sorry for the things I said to you yesterday. I was so upset and I’d like to have another chance at expressing what I was so upset about, now I’ve had the chance to gather my thoughts. I didn’t mean to say (x). What I was trying to say was (y)”.
Stay tuned for Step 4 next week!