There are 4 Stress Response Patterns: Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn

Your Relationship Roadblock Pattern Type is:

Shut Down Donna (Freeze Response)

“Donna practically created a new dance from walking on eggshells to avoid conflict. She feels talking doesn’t work, so she stuffs her thoughts and feelings.

Donna treads lightly, always careful not to stir the waters. She holds her words close, fearing that speaking up might just make things worse. In her world, silence is a sanctuary, albeit a lonely one.

Wrapped in her thoughts, Donna retreats behind invisible walls, or the mask of ‘everything is fine’ nursing her hurt in solitude. Days, even weeks, can pass in this quiet standoff, her heart longing for an apology, for understanding. Yet, without the tools of empowerment fueling her ability to take back her power, Donna will remain trapped.

Her silence might be mistaken for indifference, risking more than just her own heart. Of course this pattern affects not just her marriage but all of her relationships and her happiness.

 

The Freeze Response has both Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

Thoughtful: Takes time to reflect and process emotions before reacting.

Peace-seeking: Aims to avoid unnecessary conflicts and maintain harmony.

Self-protective: Skilled at creating emotional boundaries for self-preservation.

 

 

Weaknesses:

Communication Gap: Struggles to express feelings, leading to unresolved issues.

Emotional Isolation: Tendency to internalize hurt, which can deepen emotional wounds. Withdraws, shutting out her partner causing distance. 

Misunderstood Intentions: Silence can be perceived as indifference or acceptance.

 

ACTION PLAN

 

Gradual Communication Building

When someone tends to freeze in a conflict situations, it’s often a natural protective response. Here are a few action steps to help you move towards healthier communication where you feel safe and understood.

Actionable Steps:

Love and accept yourself for where you are right now. First off, please don’t shame yourself for freezing and not being more assertive. Shame will make it worse and will not aid you in changing. So if you want to be able to use your beautiful voice and communicate without overthinking then throw shame out the window and do your best to love and accept yourself for where you’re at and be open to change. 

Let’s embrace this with love and curiosity shall we.

Recognize Your Freeze Response: it’s really helpful to become aware of when you’re starting to freeze. Pay attention to what’s happening in your body and mind during these moments.

Practice 5-5-7 Deep Breathing: When you feel overwhelmed, try taking 3 slow, deep breaths. Breathing in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and exhale out your mouth for 7 seconds. This can calm your nervous system and help you think more clearly.

Prepare Ahead: Think about what you want to say in advance. Jotting down your thoughts can make it easier to remember and express them during the conversation. If you need help with this my Difficult Conversation script would be perfect.

Start Small: You don’t have to dive into the deep end right away. Let’s begin with less intense topics and gradually work our way up as you feel more comfortable.

 

BREAKING YOUR PATTERN

Realize that when you withdraw and go into your head you are not present and you can be perceived as you a closed off person instead of someone who is trying to protect herself.

During the conflict, if you don’t feel you can verbally respond in the moment, instead of withdrawing and shutting down, try saying something like this, “ I need some time to think about this, can I get back to you later?”  Then you can go away and think about your response and then come back.

You are taking action, instead of falling back into your pattern. This is the first step in breaking the pattern.

For more on how to break this pattern and better communication with your partner I invite you to check out Relationship Restoration Accelerator.

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Stacy Peasall

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