A Shortcut to Truth
In your close relationships you likely have some repetitive conflicts or triggers. When you are not in the midst of them you know that what would be most helpful in those moments is to give and receive empathy. Unfortunately that's not always as accessible as you would like. You need some simple way to keep from getting entangled in the same old pattern.
The good thing about repetitive patterns is that, knowing they will arise again, you can prepare for them. You can practice empathy ahead of time by guessing the feelings and needs that will most likely be alive for the other person and yourself. You might even write them down on a card and keep with you. If empathy were just words, you would be all set. True empathy, however, requires you to access curiosity and caring for the other person's experience. When that's not accessible you need another option.
Knowing what's most deeply true for you in a given conflict can help. For example, when you are having that repetitive conflict with your teenager about junk food, something that is mostly deeply true might be your sincere wish for your teenager to thrive. With this in mind you create a phrase for yourself that you can remember and easily express in the moment. In the middle of the argument about junk food, you stop and say, "I care so much about you."
Having a phrase like this that you can say aloud, is like pressing the reset button in your consciousness. It reorients you to what matters and hopefully releases you from power struggles and other tragic strategies you have for meeting needs.
PracticeTake a moment now to reflect on one repetitive conflict or trigger. What's really most important to you in that situation? Create a short memorable phrase to express that truth and set your intention to say it aloud the next time you encounter the conflict or trigger.