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Runaway Truck Ramps for Reactivity

Once the swirl of an argument starts, it can be difficult to find your way back to connection. You might feel angry and scared and want to protect needs for understanding, respect, and consideration. Habit energy can be like a runaway semi truck going downhill. The brakes burn out and you find yourself escalating into defending, attacking, or blaming.

Growing up in Colorado, runaway truck ramps were a common sight. At the bottom of a steep downgrade a runaway truck could suddenly swerve off onto an immediate steep uphill made of layers of loose gravel in which the truck could sink into, slow down and stop.

Here are some runaway truck ramps to help you sink into your values, slow down, and stop the escalation into reactivity.

Ask Questions to Get to Needs:

  • "What's most important to you (to me) right now?"
  • "There is something here we really care about. What is it?"
  • "What am I (are you) afraid of losing?"
  • "What is the part you are really wanting me to understand?"
  • "What am I trying to get to here?"
Create Space
  • "Give me a minute to process what you said"
  • "Hang on, let me go to the bathroom and come back."
  • "You said (repeat what the other just said)"
  • "I'd like to take a 20 minute time-out and come back."
Name Your Feeling
  • "I feel disconnected"
  • "I'm reacting."
  • "I'm nervous right now"
  • "I feel defensive."
  • "My heart is racing."
  • "I'm going fuzzy."
Name What's Happening
  • "I notice I just blamed you."
  • "I'm defending myself."
  • "I'm thinking you are judging me."
  • "I'm repeating myself."
  • "My voice is getting louder."
  • "I'm talking more quickly."
  • "I'm moving away from you."
  • "I'm shutting down."
Use Pattern Interrupts
  • "How about a glass of water?"
  • Sing the blame song (see previous gem on blame:  http://www.wiseheartpdx.org/post/620).
  • Howl like a Jackal
  • Say something you are grateful for
  • Take the conversation to another room or go outside
  • Plan a sign or keyword with the other person to signal you are in disconnect
Change Your Physiology
  • Take 3 slow deep breaths before saying anything else
  • Stretch your body to release tension and increase circulation
  • Go for a walk, run, etc.
  • Eat or drink something nourishing
  • Lay flat on the floor or ground and ask your body to sink into the support of the ground
This week, choose one of these runaway truck ramps for reactivity with which to practice.  Create some way to help you remember to practice.  You might put a reminder on your phone or sticky note on your computer. 

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