I'm ready to talk to you when ...
I’ve adapted this list from “Daring Greatly” by Brenè Brown. Her list is for readiness to give feedback. I thought this is so appropriate for couples to check in to see if they are ready to have a difficult conversation, to reconnect after a fight, to work through their differences, upsets and hurt.
I ask my couple to read this list out loud, one point at a time, taking a deep breath after each one. It is a ritual, a way to set an intention, a way to calm down the nervous system. It's reassuring. It's a commitment.
It’s not you against me, it’s us, and we are in this together.
I know I’m ready to talk to you when:
I'm ready to sit next to you rather than across from you;
I'm ready to put the problem in front of us rather than between us;
I'm ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that
I may not fully understand you or the issue;
I want to acknowledge what you do well rather than
criticize you for your mistakes;
I can talk about my pain without shaming or
I'm willing to own my part;
I recognize our strengths and how we can use
them to address our challenges, and grow and heal together;
I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect from you;
I want to be kind.
If after reading this list you recognize that you cannot do this, that you are a No to most of the points, then you are probably not ready to have that conversation. You might be still in an attack mode. You might be so hurt that you don’t want to see your partner's side. Chances are if you choose to proceed, you’ll only get them on the defensive and things will escalate again.
Remember, your survival brain is very useful for fighting tigers, not so useful for the relationship. It might need a moment to connect with a more evolved part of your brain, it might take a moment to shift from fight or flight into parasympathetic nervous system capable of connecting. Taking a moment to go through this list, it might help you do just that. And if you are recognizing you are still not ready, take care of you, take your time and come back to it later.