How to Get to Zero In Your Relationship – Jayson Gaddis – HPP 106
Today we talk all about relationships with our partners and sharing experiences, and how we cope and deal with difficulties that are common in every relationship. In today’s episode, we’re excited to have Jayson Gaddis, a relationship expert, coach, and author.
Getting to Zero – 03:28
It’s called Getting to Zero: How to Work through Conflict in Your High Stakes Relationships. And that’s something I’m committed to in my own life. How do I figure this out? How do I get back to a good place with my wife, my kids, you guys if I get into conflict with you two, because I think our life is better when we get to what I call zero, which is back to a good place.
A Personal Journey of Getting to Zero – 04:54
I think my family of origin was pretty conflict avoidant, I’d say for the most part. I remember a couple times bragging to my friends that my parents never fought. I only have two memories of them in middle school, fighting, but they would go down in the basement for some reason and shut the door and raise voices. They were really prideful about it, like, oh, we don’t fight. But I think what they did and still do is compartmentalize.
Conflict Repair in Relationships – 09:46
Yeah, my assertion is that successful relationships all have one thing in common, and that’s the ability and willingness to work through conflict. And I think relationships that know how to do that are deeper, they’re stronger, they’re more fulfilling, because you can bring yourself to the table. You can bring your truth and get messy and trust that it will be cleaned up.
Working Through Your Relationship – 15:09
And I think people come up with very elaborate and creative strategies to get through the pain of maybe not getting to what I call zero, because their zero is like a five on a scale of one to ten. And it’s this kind of chronic low-grade stress or disconnection that never really gets resolved. I think that’s kind of sad. I think we do that because we don’t know better.
Misreading Conflicts – 23:14
I’m sort of tracking the relationship like, hey, are we okay? But it also has its drawbacks where I can misread her stress, as she’s upset with me. It might have nothing to do with me. And this is where people get into the weeds, sometimes with conflict, just a ton of misreading each other.
Physical Contact – 29:41
So certainly a tool that I think we all need to employ once in a while is just physical contact in some way. Because like, Will, you’re saying it’s bottom up, it’s, there’s no words required, you’ve just got to push through the resistance. And you’ll be surprised at how, I think these guys are speaking to it, how quickly it can change the state.
Full Episode Transcript
Jayson Gaddis, Keith Kurlander, Dr. Will Van Derveer
Jayson Gaddis 00:00
You know, my assertion is that successful relationships all have one thing in common and that’s the ability and willingness to work through conflict. And I think relationships that know how to do that are deeper, they’re stronger, they’re more fulfilling, because you can bring yourself to the table, you can bring your truth and get messy and trust that it will be cleaned up, and what’s uncomfortable, and it’s not fun, but partnerships and who can figure this out, I think just do better in life. Actually, the Gottmans when I interviewed them said that couples that know how to work through conflict live 10 years longer than couples who don’t.
Keith Kurlander 00:34
Thank you for joining us for the Higher Practice podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander with Dr. Will Van Derveer and this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Hey there. Welcome back to another episode of the Higher Practice podcast. I’m excited today because we’re interviewing a dear friend of mine, Jayson Gaddis, who has been in the coaching and therapy and relationship space now for a long time, you might know him. He runs the relationship school and the smart couple podcast and he’s a really deep guy who has really explored a lot about how do we do healthy relationships? And how do we work through conflict? And what really is attachment and secure attachment? And how do we like to do this thing that seems like it’s very hard to do. I can just say that all the people I’ve worked with and myself, it’s challenging to get in a long term partnership, that’s what you’re looking for, and be in a very healthy experience with your partner and stable and secure and don’t forget the families. And there’s a lot there, right? It’s not simple, and it takes a lot of work and a lot of learning and even a lot of education. So Jayson’s really focused on the educational aspect of all this, and he has a new book coming out, you’ll hear us talk about it getting to zero, it’s actually coming out this week. So check that out if you want to learn more about how to work through conflict and have healthy attachments and this is really relevant to clients. It’s relevant as a professional therapist. And we actually had a really cool conversation with myself and Will and Jayson, in this episode. We go to a lot of interesting places in terms of our own relationship histories and our ideas of what really are the hallmarks of a generative relationship. So let’s dive in here with Jayson Gaddis. He’s a relationship student and teacher and the host of the smart couple podcasts and is on a mission to teach people the one class they didn’t get in school, which is how to do relationships. That’s why he founded the relationship school. It felt like he was emotionally constipated for years before relationship failures forced him to turn his life over to learning about them. He’s been married to his amazing wife since 2007, has two beautiful kids, and when he doesn’t live and breathe this stuff with his family, he’s pretty much getting his ass handed to him. He gets you the relationship results you want, and is teaching about how to use conflict to create a more fulfilling and sustainable relationship. So let’s dive in here with Jayson Gaddis. Hey, Jayson, welcome to the show.
Jayson Gaddis 03:26
Thanks. Good to see you guys.
Keith Kurlander 03:28
Good to see you. Psyched to have you on here. You were on here. I think you remember you were on here once before a long time ago, in the early days, right at the start of the podcast. Yeah. Years ago, many, many years ago. Yeah, I remember that? So this is our second round here. So that’s cool. Yeah. So yeah, excited to drop in with you and the conversation, we’re going to focus on conflict and repair and relationships and they’ve got this new book coming out, which we’re excited to talk about. So why don’t we actually start with to tell us a little bit about the book that’s about to come out and your inspiration behind it and maybe you can lead us into the topic there.
Jayson Gaddis 04:08
Okay, cool. It’s called Getting to zero, how to work through conflict in your high stakes relationships. And that’s something I’m committed to in my own life. How do I figure this out? How do I get back to a good place with my wife, my kids, you guys if I get into conflict with you, too, because I think our life is better when we get to what I call zero, which is back to a good place. And it’s like a baseline that I want to live my life from. I notice maybe it’s because I’m a relationship nerd, that a lot of people struggle in this area, particularly in their families, business partnerships, and intimate partnerships. It’s really hard, like the stakes get high and people avoid and blame and they do all kinds of things. And as you guys know, it’s really bad for us, bad for our health. There’s a lot I think detrimental, cascading negative effects on the body when we don’t figure this part of our life out.
Keith Kurlander 04:54
Yeah. Yeah, like maybe a starting point here is maybe just a little bit of your personal journey around getting to zero. Just a little nugget of like, where’d you come from as a young adult to where are you now in terms of how you frame conflict and relationship and how you did and well why don’t we start with that and then kind of we can dive into find this here?
Jayson Gaddis 05:18
Yeah, for all of us answering that same question, definitely be curious what you want to share as well. I think my family of origin was pretty conflict avoidant, I’d say for the most part, I used to remember a couple times bragging to my friends that my parents never fought. I only have two memories of them in middle school fighting, but they would go down in the basement for some reason and shut the door and raise voices. They were really prideful about it, like, Oh, we don’t fight. But I think what they did and still do is compartmentalise. So I learned how to do that. Anytime a woman I was dating would kind of bring needs or conversation that to me felt like conflict, I would push them away. And that was my MO for a long time until I started working on myself. And then I was kind of fascinated with how bad it felt, and how I could get to a better place. And I was also really interested in all the personal growth communities I was a part of and meditation communities where people didn’t know how to do this. Now there were a couple communities I was a part of that had kind of a system, but it was like hold a stick, and just say what you were projecting onto the other person, and then it was supposedly going to be better. I just had a lot of weird experiences and I just got really committed to trying to find an efficient way for people and myself. I’m curious what your guys’ experience was? Why don’t you go, Will?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 06:30
Okay, well, it’s fun to have this conversation with Jayson. I feel like I started my journey of curiosity about psychology with more of an academic curiosity about people and what makes someone mentally ill, or what’s behind the scenes when people are very disturbed. And I think for me in college, that was, it started out as a journey, trying to understand my family, and people, individuals in my family that were really difficult for me to understand as a child. But for me, it wasn’t so much of a relational issue until I started having relationship failures in my adult life. And that’s when I started getting really interested in how I am failing? And why are my relationships failing? And it’s been a journey. I mean, I feel like I’m at 51, maybe halfway done with my journey about learning about relationships and how I feel.
Keith Kurlander 07:25
Yeah, yeah. For me, I was very conflict avoidant as a child in my family. My family was pretty emotional, a moving target. There wasn’t necessarily conflict avoidance in my parents, but I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a lot of healthy conflict or like a model in my life as a kid seeing it anywhere else. Like I don’t know that I ever saw as a kid maybe I did a couple times just like saw two people have an issue with each other and work through it in what I would call healthy way I don’t know, if I ever saw that as a kid, I don’t remember seeing that. That just alone is like, Whoa, like, we all grew up as kids and never even once probably saw just a healthy working through a conflict. I mean, that’s obviously the world that we’re living in. Right? That’s just not yet evolutionary perspective, what is being focused on yet in culture, right, so where people know how to do conflict, and it’s still work for young people there, I think. But I think that void when I was in my 20s, with the women I was dating, I always was the one to initiate, like, I want to talk about this problem. I was always the one initiating it, but I was very anxiously attached. So it was like, I was always anxious that the whole thing was gonna end and it was desperate. And I don’t think I could have been a very fun person to be around in relationships. I was so anxious. So honestly, like a relationship for me is, with new people is disturbing. It’s hard for me to attach to someone new, it takes me a long time, I get very disturbed very often by them. So like, that’s another factor like if I sniff anything that just doesn’t work for me, or I think is slightly off. It’s very disturbing for me with new people, which is why I’ve got a small group of people that are mostly on this call right now. Because this is a lot for me. So that’s my story and like, and then I think being in a marriage, and being in a partnership for 15 years, I feel pretty good at doing what we call healthy conflict repair. And there’s times we have issues, but I think we do a good job at it. And we’ve been learning together in the dojo for 15 years. So yeah.
Jayson Gaddis 09:42
Yeah, it seems like you guys do a really good job of that from over here.
Keith Kurlander 09:46
Why don’t we also go to like, what do you see? First of all, you made a comment before the call, just like why it’s so essential to be able to do healthy conflict and repair in a relationship. Let’s Just like kind of play with that for a moment. Like, what does that provide in a relationship? I mean, it’s so obvious on one level, but it’s so not obvious because most people aren’t doing it.
Jayson Gaddis 10:10
Most people are doing it. Yeah, I would agree with that. Yeah, my assertion is that successful relationships all have one thing in common and that’s the ability and willingness to work through conflict. And I think relationships that know how to do that are deeper, they’re stronger, they’re more fulfilling, because you can bring yourself to the table, you can bring your truth and get messy and trust that it will be cleaned up, and what’s uncomfortable, and it’s not fun but partnerships and who can figure this out, I think just do better in life. Actually, the Gottmans when I interviewed them said that couples that know how to work through conflict live 10 years longer than couples who don’t. I think that’s pretty fascinating and eliminating.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 10:48
Wow. So couples who are in conflict can rest assured that they’re getting their reps to extend their lifespan, if not, for other reasons.
Jayson Gaddis 11:00
Yeah. And it’s like longevity is a cool new conversation. But I don’t know how much of that longevity, people are talking about repair and relationships, it’s also health stuff. And I think relationships are a big part of health. And I know with you guys with integrative care, that’s a part of your work, too.
Keith Kurlander 11:17
Yeah, I mean, I think in some of the longevity studies I’m aware of, when you look at like the centurion studies, they definitely have identified social connection is one of the key factors to living to an old age, but there’s not a lot of teasing out, like, what is the connection look like? Right? And what does that do for you?
Jayson Gaddis 11:36
Yeah, it’s like the Harvard study that, basically that conclusion was, your social connections are gonna make your life the longest and most meaningful if you have positive, good social connections, but I think it would be interesting to dig in a layer down in those studies to learn like are couples, are people actually learning how to work through conflict. And is that one of their ingredients? Why do they have such a good relationship? I don’t know. I’d be curious.
Keith Kurlander 12:00
I mean, one thing that I’m curious about and fascinated by is like, for whatever reason, with my blueprint, and I think this is true for all of us here, it’s like I came to the conclusion, like, I need to figure out how to have a solid relationship, particularly my partner, right? I need to figure that out, like, I don’t want to go through my life, just being in pain there the whole time. I don’t know what causes a person to fully say, I’m committed to going after that, because that’s, I mean, I don’t know if you guys can relate to that. That’s a really, really hard path to commit to. I’m gonna find a partner that I’m going to deeply attach to, have a healthy relationship, I’m gonna work as hard as I can for that, like, that’s a hard path to commit to. It’s an amazing path. But it’s not easy. It’s actually, in some ways, one of the hardest paths to commit to.
Jayson Gaddis 12:52
Yeah, I agree. I think that’s a good point. I mean, I think this, to me, brings up the fantasy that people have about relationships that if you meet the one or find the right person, it should be pretty straightforward. I don’t know what you guys think about that. But it hasn’t been my experience. You know?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 13:07
No, it’s a lot more work than that. On my side, to kind of parallel what Keith is saying. When I was in my 20s, I had a really traumatic kind of affair type breakup in medical school. And I made a decision at that moment that I was going to compartmentalize, to borrow your word, Jayson, I was going to put my eggs of deep connection and social nourishment in the basket of my friends and deep friendship. And then I was going to find a partner to have children with and not be vulnerable with because the pain of the betrayal was so intense that I compartmentalized that, well, I actually wrote that in my journal. And it was really intense and kind of, I mean, in some ways, I created that in my first marriage. But it was interesting that over time, that compartmentalization just didn’t work. It was like there was a crack in the foundation of my life. And I actually couldn’t maintain that. That cognitive kind of compartmentalization just didn’t work. And that was really painful for both of us.
Jayson Gaddis 14:09
I remember some of that for you, just from an outsider looking in. Because I think what’s required there is compartmentalization and denial of one’s own kind of needs, relational needs, strangely to be in a relationship seems counterintuitive there. But I think a lot of people think you’re pretty normal. I think a lot of people find themselves in that type of relationship.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 14:27
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Jayson Gaddis 14:29
I’ll make it work. And this is not important. And when I try it doesn’t go well. So I’ll just keep maybe minimizing it or it’s fine, fine, or I’ll just get these guns met elsewhere in my friendships.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 14:37
Yeah. And academically studying attachment theory and secure functioning and reading about it in books. Compartmentalised practice, speaking from experience of a younger newer marriage now it’s the practice of it is way different from the academic study.
Jayson Gaddis 14:59
Yeah, I think you’re right there. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I wrote a frickin book on this thing. I’m still like a frickin white belt off and like, wait, how do I do this again?
Keith Kurlander 15:09
Maybe a yellow belt? Yeah. Maybe not. You’re probably a black belt, but 10 stripes to go. Yeah, I think that, well I think of the clients I’ve worked with over the years, there’s a lot of people, I think pendulum in their minds about their relationships, either like, this is just as good as I’m gonna get, like, this is it, this is as good as it gets or it’s the opposite, like, anything else would be better than this, right? It’s like, I think there’s this tricky way of life, having to dive into what you have in front of you and working it. And not like going into like this whole, like, it’s either not right, or it’s like to try and work with that relationship in front of you. And not making a problem that actually worked. I think that’s just not a psychology that’s really taught culturally. Yeah, I think that’s like the trick. It’s like how to move into that psychology of like, work with what’s in front of you before you make conclusions about anything, like try and work yourself and the relationship in front of you really work before you start constantly, like making reasons why you shouldn’t work it. Do you see that a lot?
Jayson Gaddis 16:19
I do. And I think people come up with very elaborate and creative strategies to get through the pain of maybe not getting to zero what I call zero, because their zero is like a five on a scale of one to 10. And it’s this kind of chronic low grade, stress or disconnection that never really gets resolved. I think that’s kind of sad. I think we do that because we don’t know better. And we also want to belong. It feels bad to be on the outs with someone, it feels bad to be alone and I am just for the listener, I can assure you that it’s a, what we’re talking about here is a skill that anyone can learn. If you apply yourself like he’s saying, like many years, maybe of work, you can apply yourself and actually you can get better and you can create a new baseline, I really believe that
Keith Kurlander 16:59
Say a little more about getting to zero and what zero is. I’m assuming you’re talking about the concept of repair, but maybe say a little bit more about what that is?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 17:08
Yeah, I found myself saying this a lot to students and clients that we’re trying to get to zero, which is back to a good place. And if zero is a skill starts at zero and goes to 10. 10 being extremely triggered and activated, five being somewhere in the middle, where I’m upset, but I’m not not a 10. And it’s all kind of a sympathetic arousal state, where we are scared animals, what I call scared animals sort of takes over and is really just doing its job to try to stay connected and protected and those are tricky to do at the same time. So I’m going to keep my heart closed and protect myself. But don’t wait, don’t go too far away. Because it’s really threatening for social mammals, I think I’m on the outs. So we avoid and we strategize and dodge and weave. But zero is, I’m introducing people to a fun new concept. It’s like zero can be a good place that you aim for. And you don’t have to call it zero, you can just call it The Good Place or whatever you want to call it. But I find a number of skills being useful for people because most of us can put a number on our level of activation on a scale of one to 10. That makes sense.
Keith Kurlander 18:05
Maybe list some of the qualities of healthy repair and like, because obviously people say they were parents sometimes so leaving with resentments that they don’t talk about again for two months. And yeah, what do you think the qualities are really being at zero and doing a healthy repair and so on?
Jayson Gaddis 18:25
I’d love to answer that sort of thing directly. I’d love to hear first from you, too. What does that look and feel like in your marriages? Like what does repair in your marriage mean? And what does it feel like I guess and look like for you two.
Keith Kurlander 18:39
Will you wanna go first?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 18:41
Sure, I can think of a conflict we had two days ago that’s relevant here. And I think that in coming out of that it actually took us until the next day to come through that. It just felt almost like a birth canal, like a constriction in my body in my psychology of, it’s just a deep knowing that something hasn’t been completely resolved. When we had the words that we needed to have for each other to understand what each other’s perspective was and how we got into it and how we got through it was just huge relief and relaxation in my body as kind of a vague explanation of long term hours over hours process but there is that deep knowing that I agree with you, Jayson that most people can put a number on that scale of like, am I actually a zero? In my personal journey, it’s been important for me to go back again and ask Is it true? Am I really a zero? Because I can tell myself I’m at zero when I’m still at a two or a three. And then if that’s the case, I can’t communicate where I’m at with the people I’m with.
Jayson Gaddis 19:46
Yeah, and then there’s a kind of a low grade feeling of something’s off but you don’t quite know what it is.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 19:51
Yeah, it’s like a level of activation in my body that I think I recognized as my baseline from childhood of like, this is how I felt. This is what it felt like to be me as a kid. So going below that feels uncomfortable and unfamiliar and weird.
Jayson Gaddis 20:07
Yeah, I think you’re speaking to what is probably true for a lot of people that going below that meaning, like to a new baseline that could be even more relaxed and relieved, is uncomfortable. It’s unfamiliar. How about you, Keith?
Keith Kurlander 20:19
Well, you know, it’s like one of the thoughts that came to me was a repair I had with Tara, my three year old, which was interesting a few days ago. It’s actually interesting, because I was just a little irritable. When I woke up, it wasn’t a great night’s sleep. And she was like, asking for a cookie for breakfast. And I was like, yeah, we’re not doing that. And she just immediately blew up at me. She was screaming right in my face, like, Oh, I want a cookie for breakfast, and was screaming at me in my face, and she settled a little, and it was just like, yeah, you were gonna need to talk about this, because that doesn’t feel good to me. When you freak out on me like that, and scream at my face, that hurts. And she was crying and walked away from me. And then, like, an hour later, I just told her, we’re going to talk about this at some point. And she came back to me and was like, she was tracking that hurt me. And she still was able to track it like I wasn’t even settled in the mountain system. Yeah. And she came back and she just hugged my leg and was like, I’m sorry, I love you. And I said, thanks for saying that. And then she walked away. And it was like done, right? So for me, I think there’s elements of I mean, that’s what my daughter, but there’s obviously a lot more with my wife. But there’s an element of tracking, I think, my three year old doesn’t need to track me like I’m okay, she doesn’t. But I think there’s an element of like us tracking each other’s pain, knowing that we’re considering each other in the repair. I think being seen, for me in my relationship of like, we both have a chance to actually see each other’s trigger, and just acknowledge it and validate it and not make it wrong, which sometimes I still fail at. I actually failed last night at that. That’s not done yet. I’m still failing the best. So yeah, I think just acknowledging each other’s pain. For us, if we can get through acknowledging each other’s pain and just validating it, seeing each other’s perspective as equal, like getting out of the right and wrong thing, acknowledging like that hurt you, and I don’t want to hurt you. Like, that’s not really what I want to be doing. And usually for us, we can move through that process. 10 minutes, and we’re pretty much at the end, the feeling is like I’m relaxed. I’m not even thinking about the issue anymore. I like it for me, I know I’m at zero because I’m in my mind, but I’m at zero. If you ask me. Like, is that an issue for you at all? I’m just like, absolutely not. I’m done with that. Like, it’s not an issue. Like I can just my mind is very sensitive. Like I’m like, Yes, it’s still an issue or it’s not. So for me, zero is very obvious. In my mind. I’m just like, No, there’s nothing there anymore. So that’s how I know when I’m at zero. Yeah, I’m more of a switch. I like, I absolutely don’t have an issue, or I absolutely do have an issue. So for me, it’s totally obvious.
Jayson Gaddis 23:09
Nice. For you Will, it’s more subtle than that.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 23:14
Way more subtle. And I’m noticing that it just takes a lot more contacts and a lot more time with my wife than, and I want it and I need it. And it’s interesting to notice that the need is much bigger than I ever realized before to actually even be able to recognize what number I’m at, though.
Jayson Gaddis 23:34
Yeah, that’s cool. For me, I’m very sensitive here. So when I’m not at zero, I definitely know. I’m usually, some of the symptoms there look like me tracking my partner, like a hawk. Like what’s going on over there. And when I feel we’re off, and we’re not okay, I’m over there a lot, which has its benefits. I’m sort of tracking the relationship like, hey, are we okay? But it also has its drawbacks where I can misread her stress, as she’s upset with me. It might have nothing to do with me. And this is where people get into the weeds, sometimes with conflict, just a ton of misreading each other. And that’s why it’s so important to communicate and actually sit down and be like, are we okay? What do we need to do to get to an okay place? And that sometimes takes us days, sometimes it takes us weeks, sometimes it takes us minutes, it kind of depends on the issue on what’s going on. It always feels like home to me when I’m in a good place with her. I feel plugged back into our connection is solid. It’s like a generator. There’s this generator, and we both plug into a secure attachment kind of way. We’re like, Ah, there’s so much nourishment here. When something’s off it’s kind of like we both get unplugged and life is a little harder and more stressful for me.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 23:34
Yeah, it’s much harder to do the things and express ourselves when we’re not resourced in that really deep, fundamental way.
Jayson Gaddis 24:52
Yeah, totally. I’m curious, do you guys have a, I don’t know a go to resource in those moments that will get you to closer to zero, is there a Oh, I need to give a reminder? Or do you need to be reminded by your partner? Like, is there a, I don’t know go to kind of Lifeline that you reach for like, Okay, I got to do this thing that I know will get us to a better place.
Keith Kurlander 25:13
It’s changed over the years, it’s just sort of like, what phase Am I in, but my newer go to thing that absolutely helps me get to zero quicker. And I think Emma two, which makes it, it’ll make sense. Why is that? If we’re both triggered, if that’s what we’re talking about, it’s not just one person being triggered, it’s a lot easier what one person triggered and the other person’s just feeling very resourced and open, right? That’s a different thing. But that doesn’t happen that often when in relationships, usually, one person gets triggered and the other person. So the newest thing I’ve been aware of that somehow is showing up for me is that I’m entering the space of empathy for her more when I’m triggered of like, wait, what if I just, maybe it’ll help me in my reactivity to and like not being so much overwhelming discomfort if I just try and get really what are pains about like, if I just sit with it just for even a minute like, and I know her so well, after 15 years that like, I have some pretty good guesses about what the pattern is of where the pain is coming from whatever it is, if it’s a childhood pattern, or if it’s not even a pattern, and it’s, I have a good sense of herself, like once I can start to understand that, like I soften so fast. And then she tends to soften because I’m actually listening to her. Right? versus not wanting to listen to her, which happened last night. So it’s like, I think for me, it’s a really good practice that seems to be happening a little more spontaneously in the last few months. It’s just like, wait, we’re both triggered, let me just suspend my own trigger just for a minute or two, and just try and take in her what’s going on for her and where it comes from for her and just Can I see the picture here, and that disarms me pretty quick, especially because I know her so well. And I could be like, yeah, I’m kind of assuming this is kind of her history here. And I don’t need to personalize it so much. And so that’s been helping me a lot.
Jayson Gaddis 27:05
Nice. Love that. Will?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 27:07
Christina, we use a lot if we call it skin time. So skin time is somebody. It actually happens a lot when in the transition between work and home at night, like I’m usually bringing something that is too fast or too edgy or too intense when I get home from work is pretty common. And she’ll say, Okay, looks like you need skin time. And I’ll say no, I don’t need scan time. She’ll say, yeah, that’s exactly why you need scan time. And so I’ll just lie down on the couch on my back, and she’ll lay her body right on mine. And I can feel my heart rate decreasing, and my breathing, slowing. And it would be fun to check my heart rate variability and see if that’s changing. You know, I don’t. I haven’t had I don’t have the data, but it feels like I’m getting more resourced. And so on a good day, the conflict becomes physical and downregulation. And it’s helpful for us to get out of our heads and not have a conversation. When there’s a lot in the field. It’s actually better for me to get physically regulated. It’s kind of that bottom up concept, right, bottom up regulation. And then I think the blood flow is probably heading into my frontal cortex more, and then I can actually have a meaningful discussion with curiosity and seeing possibilities that just wasn’t possible before downregulating.
Jayson Gaddis 28:33
Yeah, that’s so cool. My wife and I do that sometimes. I like you guys, it seems to lead with that. Do you guys do that when you’re activated by each other? Or is that too fast? Or is that actually the answer?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 28:48
We’ve both found a lot more resistance to doing it when the contract was with each other? Yeah. But it still works and yes, we’ve definitely done it. In those situations. It’s like getting over the defensive in every activity enough to be able to get there.
Jayson Gaddis 29:06
Yeah, I mean, it’s like two porcupines trying to lay on top of each other. Yeah, I mean, when I’m really upset with my wife, and I’m nearly in it, that’s the last thing I want to do, right? I want to move away, I want her to move away and yet, you’re speaking to a really important point of the medicine of CO regulation, interactive regulation, where we can actually more quickly regulate ourselves together versus if you go off to your corner of the house and she goes off to her corner you both try to kind of get regulated. You can do that, but that’s I think slower.
Keith Kurlander 29:41
It’s like it’s slower. Yeah, it’s interesting, like just physical contact, right? And like, do you feel like with Ellen that you guys like does it just feel counterintuitive? When you’re both mad at each other to embrace each other? I mean, where do you guys actually go, have you guys ever tried that where you’re just like, let’s just try it?
Jayson Gaddis 30:04
Yeah, yes to both feels very counterintuitive, I usually don’t want to do that she usually doesn’t want to do that. And when one of us can just gesture toward the other person in a physical way, like hand on shoulder, hug, hand on leg, hand on back, anything like that is immediately downregulating for me, and I think it helps her as well. So certainly a tool that I think we all need to employ once in a while is just physical contact in some way. Because like, Will, you’re saying it’s bottom up, it’s, there’s no words required, you just gotta push through the resistance. And you’ll be surprised at how I think these guys are speaking to it, how quickly it can change the state. Yeah, that’s true for us.
Keith Kurlander 30:44
Yeah, it’s a big state changer. And my whole system, when I’m really charged is like, I don’t want to be touched. I don’t, I barely want to be near you but I’m going to bear down and be near you to talk through this. Like I’m saying the words to connect, but my body internally is actually being like this, you know, closed off turtle, like, I’ve already pulled my head inside my shell, inside my body. And I’m just like, it’s so crazy how that part of the brain, which is probably a very old response system, I would think. It just seems like this part of the brain takes over and is like, it’s safer to not be touched right now because I’m mad at you.
Jayson Gaddis 31:27
Yeah, right. That’s this narrative, right?
Keith Kurlander 31:29
Yeah. And the narrative for me is, if I let you in, I won’t be mad at you anymore. So then I’m not going to get to prove my point. I mean if I’m really being honest with what that emotion is saying to me, especially like, if I just started letting you in, I don’t get to stay in my position. I’m going to lose my position. I mean, I think that’s an old defense organism strategy. You know, I see it in my three year old, I think it’s a very primitive strategy of just like, my position is right. It’s threatening to not be in my position. So I’m not letting you in.
Jayson Gaddis 32:02
I think so. Yeah.
Keith Kurlander 32:03
Yeah. And if I let her in then I relax.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 32:06
You are going to lose your position, if you let that person in. That’s accurate, as my
Keith Kurlander 32:11
position will definitely get compromised in some way. Right?
Jayson Gaddis 32:15
Yeah, might even evaporate, which is usually a good thing.
Keith Kurlander 32:19
Yeah, usually the things that I get super mad about, I don’t care about once we’re through the fight from like, whatever, I don’t really need that. Usually, the things I get mad about are not things that I actually like, I think differently once the fights are over, which is what’s interesting, right? Like, I don’t think about it the same way.
Jayson Gaddis 32:37
Yeah, I think that’s true. We’re all a little less emotional. And we can see more clearly, one of the things that works for me quickly on repair. I love that we’re hanging out on the repair, because it feels so vital for people to just take responsibility for my part. My part is, is that like, that’s immediately relieving to my partner, when I lead with that, or like you’re saying he’s just listening, like, hey, I want to understand your position. What happened over there, those two things, if I can lead with one of those two things, it immediately cuts the whole thing in half.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 33:08
Unless the perception is my part, I didn’t do anything wrong here. I didn’t contribute to this.
Jayson Gaddis 33:16
It’s all you. It can’t be me. I don’t even have the part.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 33:20
I was just standing here when this happened.
Jayson Gaddis 33:21
And I work with people sometimes and they’d say, Well, what if I don’t have a part? And I say, Well, I want to ask your partner what your part is, I bet I bet they have an opinion on that.
Keith Kurlander 33:30
Well, maybe we talk a little bit about the reward of doing the work with a person and I’m thinking about how we were in a conversation, what was their, you know, we were asked, What’s the temperature right now of an ice relationship? And I was like, it’s Hawaii. And I was like, oh, what does that mean? So I just came out of Hawaii. And I was like, yeah, it’s warm and sunny, with a little rain shower most of the time. And then sometimes, like this big storm rips through and it’s gone. And I think that’s like, for me, the reward of 15 years of wrestling and trying to figure out how do we just be actual, like, full of teammates and collaborators and care about each other’s wounds. And like, I think the reward is just that I think the dominant space can become relaxation with each other and nourishment and joy and play and gratitude. To me, that’s the reward of doing the work. And there’s plenty of people who have had that and there’s plenty of people who haven’t had that. It’s kind of like how you explain a psychedelic experience to someone who’s never had one. It’s like, you can’t really explain what the result of secure attachment is until you go and earn it. And it’s, you know, this is my I’ve been in this relationship for 15 years. I didn’t have that prior to this relationship. So I would just say the reward is powerful. I’m curious what you guys think about how the reward of earning secure attachment has impacted you.
Jayson Gaddis 35:00
Yeah, I like what Dan Siegel says it’s like earned security. And that’s absolutely true over here, I was not in a secure relationship until my wife and I. And it’s been amazing. And actually what creates security as the conflict repair cycle. Strangely, it’s arguing, disagreeing, distancing, going through some challenges together and finding our way back. That’s what builds security in the parent child relationship. That’s what builds security in my marriage. I think it’s just constant practice and dojo to keep learning. I’m in another learning phase right now, because we want to, we’re trying to get more efficient with our repair, and men when we get there. And sometimes it can last weeks and months, until we hit another big snag. Sometimes it’s only days. Yeah, it just feels great. It feels so good like anything’s possible. It’s really the primary feeling is like, wow, I can do anything from this place.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 35:53
Yeah, I mean, I think the joy that I feel from creating at work every day is a direct result of having that kind of secure home base. I enjoyed my previous career, practicing psychiatry quite a bit. I learned a lot. But there was a seed in me that couldn’t sprout until I had the right conditions, more Hawaii, kind of climate. And my relational world, and so who I am today, professionally is just such a big expression of having the right kind of partnership in my life, I would say.
Jayson Gaddis 36:32
Yeah, so people are listening to you telling you this repair stuff. Got to put your attention on that.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 36:37
Yeah, I think what you just said, Jayson’s really important that the, you can’t say that enough that the conflict is required for building resiliency. I’m just speaking from more of a white Anglo Saxon Protestant, Southern upbringing, where avoidance of conflict is, in some ways, probably similar to your upbringing, Jason, just how we do things. And so we’re avoiding actually going to the gym and doing weights. And we didn’t even I didn’t know the gym was there. Like I just thought it was a bad place to go to a bad neighborhood. You never go in there. Yeah, Ed tronic has work, the guy that did the still face experiment for the listener. It’s pretty powerful. And basically he’s saying it’s that mismatch, Miss attunement, attunement re attunement process that builds secure goods and secure relationships, and adults who trust their experience. And it’s very powerful. And this is cross cultural doesn’t matter where you grew up. This is the deal that builds security.
Keith Kurlander 37:33
Well, why don’t we start wrapping up, you want to say a little more about the book and what’s on the horizon and know a little bit more about you. And
Jayson Gaddis 37:42
I could just say, sure more about this book, I think it’s a really good guidebook for this conversation that we’re having here. If you want to take this a step further, the whole book is about the conflict repair cycle, and a number of science informed tools that can help you get back to a good place. And through a user friendly, lots of exercises, diagrams, kind of work bookie, and fun. I definitely talk about my own foibles and failures as a way for you to hopefully learn from my mistakes and the people I work with. So I think it’s a very solid resource here. And I definitely think that if people can put attention on this part of their lives, they’ll have more meaningful and fulfilling lives, because it’s the dance between us human beings that I think creates so much meaning for us. And it feels so painful when we can’t figure it out together. And that I think should motivate us to learn and put our students out on and find a way.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 38:35
Beautiful, waiting eagerly for my pre ordered copy to arrive in the mail. Awesome. I want to urge everyone to check it out.
Jayson Gaddis 38:42
Yeah, and you can go to gettingtozerobook.com If this comes up before October 5. If it’s after October 5, you can still go to that page. And there’s some freebies there. And there’s a conflict quiz you can take to sort of determine your conflict style, and a number of other things.
Keith Kurlander 38:56
Well it was great connecting here with you and fun to just explore together about relationships, which we’re exploring together all the time, but to do it here. It’s cool.
Jayson Gaddis 39:07
Totally. Yeah. Thanks for sharing so vulnerably guys and openly. I love when we just got to talk like this. So it’s so nice.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 39:15
Keith Kurlander 39:20
We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the Higher Practice podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.