Everything You Need to Know About Relationship Conflict in 15 Minutes
During WELL Summit-Boston in April, I was honored to speak on the Eat WELL: Drop the Labels, Healthy Food for Your Mental Health panel. I had an amazing time sharing the stage with some phenomenal women, catering to an audience filled with the beautiful (inside and out) women and men of the WELL Summit Tribe.
However, the less publicized event I also very excited about was the 15 minute mini- break out session I was asked to facilitate for the conference's VIP Attendees. My topic of choice was Conflict and Communication in Relationships, through the lens of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy ; a model created by Sue Johnson. I am Core Skills trained and certified in this modality, I believe it's a game changer for relationships.
Now, I wasn't sure if my expectations were too high (Virgo problems), but I wanted the WELL Summit VIPs to walk aways with 3 things from those 15 minutes: 1) Fresh perspective on an old problem, 2) Actionable steps they could begin to use immediately and 3) Increased awareness of their underlying (primary) emotions. According to Lisa, of This Organic Girl, it sounds like this mission was accomplished! I'm grateful to her and the other women in the group who participated and shared their stories.
*The following is an excerpt from This Organic Girl's full review of her WELL Summit Boston experience which took place April 21,2018. The full review and highlights can be found on her website. Any changes are re-printed in brackets to preserve transparency.
Mentor Lunch Sesh with Jenny D. Brice, MFT, MPH
"So if you attend W.E.L.L. Summit with a VIP ticket, you get access to mentor sessions that are super intimate. In the past these have been held at breakfast which was a little early for my preference but this time they were over lunch. PERFECT. So we grabbed our complimentary Sweet Green, gluten-free, salads and headed off to our mentor sessions.
This time around, lunch mentors included Ksenia from Breakfast Criminals, Sara Divello author of Where In The Om Am I?, Chelsea Williams from That’s Chelsea and Jenny D. Brice, Couples Therapist working out of
[CENTERED| Psychotherapy & Holistic Wellness] in Philadelphia, PA.
Four circles of chairs were set up in one of the presentation rooms and attendees got to pick two mentors to meet with (15 mins each). I was already sitting down when Jenny joined the circle I was in. It’s like fate made this happen because I don’t think I would have chosen this topic initially. Funny how things work like that sometimes, isn’t it?
Jenny didn’t hold back and started in on communication styles of couples. In each couple there is typically what she was calling a “pursuer” and a “withdrawer”. When conflict arrises, the pursuer tends to jump right in with, let’s talk about this right now….what happened….why…who….processing everything externally with the intention of connecting and showing love for the other person. This person’s worst fear is usually abandonment. While the withdrawer tends to retreat and not be vocal. Looking internally, processing on the inside, not wanting to talk it out in the moment but maybe later when they feel resolve.
This persons worst fear is usually rejection.
Jenny said, when you can identify that this a typical communication trap for couples..the peruser pursues and pushes while the withdrawer retreats….then you can see that the fight or the argument is never really about the dishes or the trash or who’s turn it is to walk the dog. It’s about HOW we are communicating. So she left us with two tips.
For the pursuers: No matter how angry you are, don’t come out of the gates blazing. Instead, ask your partner when would be a good time to talk about this?
For the withdrawer: Instead of talking about the topic at hand, offer up your feelings. Tell your partner, I’m feeling really anxious about this conversation or the thought of this is making me really scared.
Not that this will solve all your problems but it will create a different path to connection. Change the conversation pattern. Create space for trust and feelings of safety.
This 15 minute talk totally blew me away and I’ve been chewing on it ever since. Does this resonate with you?"