My partner and I were working together on a remodel project the other day. We were hammering a nail in the wall when the nail bent and took a small chip out of the wall we just painted. I yelled, and threw the hammer down on the ground in an outburst of frustration. My partner walked away. I felt shitty.
So, it turns out that slowly responding, versus speedily reacting, is really critical for our emotional health and the well-being of our relationships.
We often can become less mindful of how we are responding in our closest relationships. Maybe familiarity breeds a kind of sloppy speediness? We can often use restraint by not yelling at the grocery clerk, but will let loose when back at home with our closest inner circle.
How and when can we begin to build the capacity to slow down, and where is this most helpful? For me, it is most helpful to push the slow-mo button in harder scenarios of life, like when I am frustrated. Maybe for you, it is when you are sad, tired, scared, or bored.
But how to build that slowing down muscle? I think we practice during the high reactive times. But we build the skill, the muscle of slowing down in non-reactive times: when you are rested, relaxed and when the situation is low stakes. During those times in your relationships, practice slowness together: talk slowly, walk slowly, think slowly, breathe slowly, etc. When things feel harder or high stakes, we can bring that practice into that scene of life as well.
I am going to think of ways to invite my partner to slow down with me, and I invite you to do the same.