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  • Tommy Lofgren

Jumping the Gun – Our Reactions

Our reactions, while valid, can also be a part of how we protect ourselves. In many insecure attachments, we find that there isn’t a space where it’s okay to simply share what’s going on underneath.

Sometimes in our relationships, the hardest thing to do is approach our partner when we are upset with them. I sit with clients every day, and often I articulate that reactions can be so much easier than sharing our very vulnerable emotion. The way we actively handle our emotions has a very tremendous impact on how we express our feelings to our partner. The challenge that many are often faced with is, “how do I say this without hurting my partner?”

As Emotionally Focused therapists, we believe in helping clients attune to themselves and their partner by first understanding the cycle in their relationship. I’ve touched on this in previous posts, the tendencies in our relationships when it comes to expressing our emotions. There are those that tend to withdraw (they see their partner might be criticizing or judging them and tend to shut down)— “I always mess up, I can’t get it right,” “I don’t bother trying to show up anymore.” Those who lean more towards pursuing often feel invisible to their partners, feeling unwanted or disregarded. They reach out to say, “You’re not around, you’re always distracted,” or. “You don’t see me; you act like I’m not here.” Pursuers might approach their partner to get to the bottom of what is going on in the relationship.


It’s easy in relationships to “Jump the Gun”—we see our partner is pushing us away, so we reach in and send bullets flying in every direction. If we don’t understand why our partner is shutting down, it makes it difficult to acknowledge when they’re probably withdrawing in a difficult conversation or argument. This is when we start to express how angry, upset, frustrated, or annoyed we are what our partner has done, and we start to lose sight at the impact it has on our partner. Many times, this is a valid response from either side. Trying to validate each other, when one partner is angry and another is shutting down, becomes a task in itself.

This is when additional emotional support is effective, because it allows us to sit with clients and try to get an understanding from all parties in the relationships. While one partner’s anger may be valid because their partner hurt them in this way, we don’t always see ourselves expressing the hurt that’s happening underneath. Sometimes, it comes off more like, “I can’t believe you did this! You make me so angry.” When your partner starts to withdraw, they could be feeling fear, shame, or guilt. At times we get wrapped in these unhealthy cycles of connection and lose sight of how to reach to one another.


Our reactions, while valid, can also be a part of how we protect ourselves. In many insecure attachments, we find that there isn’t a space where it’s okay to simply share what’s going on underneath.


Whether verbalized or inadvertent, people send us messages about whether or not they are interested or care to hear about what we’re feeling. If I reacted solely with anger when my partner is angry, for example, we could create this gun slinging match where we’re blaming one another and get caught in the dust.

If we’re stuck, or feel trapped in our reactions, it can be difficult to understand how to connect healthily in our bonds. We want to be a resource for you if you’re struggling with those reactions. If you feel that this resonates in your life, feel free to reach out to us, and we’ll provide support in whatever way you feel fits. Schedule an appointment here. Thanks!


#CultivateConnectionCounseling #reactions #arguments #CounselorinWA #EmotionallyFocusedTherapy #Counselors #Relationships #Mentalhealthblog



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