When we are having an intense discussion where each of us has opposing views (in other words, an argument or a fight), there is always the possibility that one of us, or both of us, may be flooded with intense feelings of fear, shame, anger, hurt, or upset. At that point, we may get emotionally reactive by lashing out with words we later regret or shutting down or just leaving the conversation. This is called emotional flooding, and triggers the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction.
There are physiological stress symptoms when in a case of emotional flooding. You might feel an inability to think, hear, or communicate clearly, as well as sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. It is best to take a break at this point to calm down.
It is worthwhile to recognize how your body feels as you are being emotionally flooded. Does your face get flushed, does your heart race, do you start talking quicker and louder, do your palms sweat? This is your ‘break-point’, your point to take a break.
You might say “I’m feeling flooded.” “Let’s leave this for another time when we are calmer.”
Caveat: You must return to the conversation when you’re both ready. This is not an excuse to permanently avoid dealing with the issue.
Use your break time to self-soothe; take a walk, exercise, listen to music. Whatever works for you.