The Power of the "Do over"

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 @ 1:03 PM

Among the first things we learn in Drivers Ed is how to stop the car.  Knowing how to apply the brakes in our relationships is an essential skill too. When we start off on the wrong foot, or find ourselves locked together in a cycle of recriminations, we can save ourselves a lot of grief if we learn how to stop. John Gottman calls these breaks “repair attempts”.  A repair attempt is anything you do to de-escalate the tension.  It can consist of suggesting a time-out.  Or it can be a statement like, “May I take that back?” or “Let me try again” or “Please don’t withdraw.” Other  simple requests, such as “That hurt my feelings,” or “Can you rephrase that” are also powerful “do overs”.

When we don’t know how to put on the brakes in our relationships, conflicts can easily escalate out of control, and result in an emotional state called flooding. Once a person is flooded they are in a “fight and flight” stance.  It is very hard to comeback in a positive way once this threat system is activated.  I find in my counseling sessions learning how to use the “Gottman Repair Checklist” helps couples have more meaningful and more successful conversations.  It gives them powerful words to add to their language bank for future repairs.  This repair checklist can also be used in any relationship and help increase one’s emotional intelligence.

See the " Gottman Repair Checklist."

Peggy Burns , MFT