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5 mins

How To Get Out Of An Argument Loop

Learn how to manage your conflicts without being defined by them
by Rosie Allabarton | Jun 6 2018

We’ve all been there. One ill-judged comment and what starts as a minor tiff with your partner turns into an argument of epic proportions. Before you know it, you’re both dredging up hatchets you’ve left unburied and questioning the future of your relationship. And all this from one off-hand remark.


Negotiating The Nonnegotiable by Daniel Shapiro explains how this happens, and indeed, how we end up in conflict at all. While you can’t avoid it – and nor should you — there are ways to manage it better. Whether it’s a fight with your partner, your family, or your next-door neighbor, these kinds of clashes can be very painful to experience, but they are completely normal. In fact, they help us to learn about our own shortcomings and how to understand vulnerability in others.

But despite how normal conflict can be, it becomes incredibly frustrating if you frequently find yourself in an argument loop. Something that should have blown over within minutes becomes a relationship-defining blow-out. Luckily, you can learn to manage your differences of opinion and to listen to opposing arguments without losing your head — or your partner.

What Happens When You Feel Dizzying Rage

So, what’s actually happening when we find ourselves in a make-or-break argument with the person we love when only moments ago we were discussing whose turn it was to take out the garbage? Shapiro tells us that this is called vertigo and the symptoms are likely recognizable to you. You become unable to rationalize, you forget your surroundings, and you can only focus on the negative. The first thing we need to do to prevent this from happening, he says, is to see these symptoms for what they really are the moment they occur.

Avoid The Doom Spiral

If you find yourself shouting at your partner, ask yourself if you have been consumed by the argument? If you find your thoughts are only ruminating on the discussion at hand and that you’re not able to focus on anything else, then you’re probably experiencing vertigo.

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan!

The second symptom to be mindful of is when you begin to view the other person as the enemy. You know that he or she is normally not your arch-nemesis, but if right now that’s the only way you can view them, then you are definitely in the midst of vertigo.

How To Break The Cycle

When you recognize the warning signs, — i.e. that you’re consumed by this argument and that the other person seems like the devil incarnate — what can you do to deal with it?

Slow To A Stop

Shapiro says take a deep breath and try to moderate your perspective. Although what you’re feeling is an instinctive tribal impulse you can rise above it and defeat it.

Count to ten and try to look at the situation with fresh eyes. This person loves you — they’re not the enemy. Your relationship is worth a great deal more than this conflict.

Secondly, slow down. Don’t rush to get the next word in or score the next point. Think about what you’re saying and the potential long-term damage it could do to you both.

With a little practice and patience, you’ll soon find that you’ll be able enter into a minor conflict with someone without it escalating beyond your control. It won’t eliminate conflict altogether, but it will stop that conflict defining your relationship. Vertigo is something we all experience, but once we know how to recognize it and are able to handle it with patience, we begin to see disagreements for what they really are: simple differences of opinion.

Next time you feel like you’re losing your head, just remember to take a step back and breathe! Your relationships will thank you for it.

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