Krista Young Coaching - WAIT ! Blog

WAIT - The #1 Tip When Talking to Your Ex!!

Do you ever get triggered by your ex and lash out so fast & automatically that you don’t realize it until…… 🤬 well...... it’s too late?  I know the feeling.😞  I admit to lashing out when I’m caught by surprise with a disrespectful comment or snide remark from my ex.  Even though I’ve known him long enough to know that he’s just pushing my buttons, my emotions can get the best of me and erupt like Mt. St. Helens 🌋 in 1980!

That’s right, even a COACH (ie. me 🙊) can be caught off guard and say regretful things.  Argh!  The truth is that I’m human, and have an Ex, too!

This begs the question though:  What can I [teach myself to] do instead? 🤣

Let's see.....I simply need to remember my tools, and actually USE THEM in these situations.  That’s what they’re for, after all.

So here are some tips I learned (the hard way, and I still offend once in a while) that have helped me over the years.  I think they’ll help you too:

Tip #1:  If there’s time before the phone call / exchange / interaction with my ex, I say the serenity prayer** 2-3x since it’s easy to remember, short, and sweet.  I try to focus on the meaning behind each specific line, saying it out loud if possible.  And when I can’t, I’ll say it in my head.

Tip #2:  If I’m speaking to my ex and feel triggered, I try to take a deep breath, pause ⏯️, and think about the big picture.  This helps me see the overall situation more clearly, and stop the volcanic eruption from happening.  The goal here is to avoid REACTING with anger.🤬.

Easier said than done, right?!  RIGHT!

Because while taking a breath & pausing works wonders to help me gain the perspective of a third party by-stander, this approach takes practice!  So here’s an even better tip…

Tip #3:  THIS IS THE #1 thing I do when I’m triggered - I stop and ⚠️ WAIT ⚠️.  Yup, that’s right, I stop in my own tracks and say WAIT over and over in my head.

It seems so simple but goes much deeper.  Here’s why:

Obviously the word WAIT is so fitting for an escalating situation by itself, but it also creates two extremely apropos acronyms.  And they are:

  1. What Am I Thinking?

            - AND / OR -

  1. Why Am I Talking?

But there’s more!  If you like to geek out a little bit, like I do, here’s the science behind why saying WAIT works so well (stick with me here, I promise it’ll be worthwhile):

When you take a moment to pause, your mind has a chance to catch up with how your body is feeling and you’re able to ASSESS the situation more logically using all of the information versus just your instincts & emotions.

Your initial reaction when you are triggered comes from the middle portion of your brain which is responsible for “fight or flight” (ie. survival skills).  Your reaction, once this part of your brain is engaged, is hair-trigger fast, and makes it very difficult or nearly impossible to control.

But when we take a deep breath and pause, we’re able to slow the process down and re-engage the frontal lobe of our brain, a brain region which is unique to humans (& some other primates) 🤯.  This part of the brain, also called the prefrontal cortex, gets shut down or ‘taken off-line’ when you’re triggered by a real or perceived threat, and the amygdala (small part of the middle brain) takes over for survival purposes.

Think of a cat, who’s sleeping, hears a noise, and instantly looks up as if to fight or run away from the threat.  This is exactly what your body is doing when you're triggered.

But then, a cat lays back down when they see it's just you, or something that's not an actual threat.  This is their body going back to a normal state.

As for humans, the frontal lobe is our social center.  It’s what engages in social interactions with others and is how we connect as humans. It’s the part of our brain that wants us to be liked, seen & heard.

This part of the brain develops last (starting ~ 8-10 years old) and gives us our conscience, quite literally (reasoning, planning, judgment & impulse control - all necessities for being an adult).  The start of its development closely coincides with the start of puberty.  Simply put, that’s why kids in High School are overly self-conscious (frontal lobe partly developed), and that’s also why kids in elementary school aren’t afraid to cry in public (frontal lobe development hasn't started yet)!

In the end, breathing, pausing, and saying “WAIT” to yourself helps re-engage the frontal brain lobe so you're responding thoughtfully and avoiding regretful behavior.

This is HUGE because when we ⭐️ RESPOND with intention ⭐️ versus REACT regretfully 🤬, we feel better (instead of worse) about ourselves, helping to reinforce & increases our self-esteem, self-confidence, feelings of self-worth and gives us a strong sense of positivity in our lives.


All of which is YOU loving and giving a GIFT 🎁 to yourself!

And BONUS! Positivity breeds positivity.  Why?  The human brain has neuroplasticity, meaning it’s able to change & grow new wiring.  So every time you act ‘in the right way’ versus ‘the wrong way’, you’re building new positive neural pathways.  And the next time you’re triggered, your brain will be less apt to react in the old, negative way because those pathways become used less and atrophy.  Instead, your brain will be more apt to use the new pathways.  In summary, practicing positive behavior helps your brain & body to be able to react with positivity and intention.  This means you’ll be doing the right thing in no time!

** I recommend adding the serenity prayer into your toolbox so you can use it when you need to, so here it is:

Serenity Prayer

God, please grant me the serenity

to accept the things I can not change

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

             ~ Reinhold Niebuhr


Images by 📸 @‌workplaybranding

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