Getting to Zero | Jayson Gaddis

Summary of: Getting to Zero: How to Work Through Conflict in Your High-Stakes Relationships
By: Jayson Gaddis


Embark on a transformative journey to manage conflicts in your high-stakes relationships with ‘Getting to Zero’ by Jayson Gaddis. Discover the origins of conflict, whether it stems from too much closeness or distance, and learn how to identify your coping mechanisms for dealing with it. This book summary equips you with practical tools like the conflict box and techniques like NESTR meditation to address unresolved issues. By understanding your relational blueprint, you can rewire your brain to enhance your emotional resilience and foster stronger connections with your loved ones.

Unraveling Conflict Triggers

Conflict arises when we feel threatened, either physically or emotionally. In relationships, this can stem from too much closeness or too much distance. When these feelings of threat trigger us, we employ coping mechanisms, or disconnectors. By identifying and understanding our disconnectors, we can better manage conflicts in our lives.

Have you ever stopped to consider the roots of conflict? Although the exact reasons can differ, conflict commonly emerges when we feel threatened. These threats can be physical, emotional, or related to our identity, property, safety, health, morals, or loved ones.

In the context of relationships, feeling threatened usually originates from one of two sources: excessive closeness or too much distance. Both situations can evoke a sense of danger – if someone gets too close, you may worry about attack, while increased distance can bring about fears of abandonment.

Excessive closeness can manifest when a person approaches you confrontationally or raises their voice. These behaviors can seem aggressive, especially if the individual is upset, as their body language may make them appear larger than they are. Consequently, it’s natural for you to become defensive.

On the contrary, too much distance can lead to feelings of insignificance or fear of being left behind. Such distance emerges when someone abruptly leaves, gives you the silent treatment, slams doors, or interrupts your conversation. In today’s highly connected world, even unreturned calls or unanswered messages can widen the gap between people. Silence, however, is often the most unsettling, as it leaves you in a state of uncertainty.

Feeling triggered by closeness or distance is normal, but prolonged exposure to this state can have detrimental effects on your mental and physical well-being. Luckily, there are steps you can take to address these triggers.

Begin by identifying your coping mechanisms, or “disconnectors.” There are generally four types of disconnectors:

1. Posturing – This mechanism involves attacking or blaming the other person to shield yourself from harm.
2. Collapsing – As the opposite of posturing, collapsing entails shutting down or imploding, taking the blame for the situation.
3. Seeking – When employing this mechanism, you feel insecure and try to reestablish a connection. However, this may unintentionally drive the other person away.
4. Avoiding – With this disconnector, you create distance between yourself and the other party.

Recognizing how you disconnect enables you not only to identify when you’re using these strategies, but also to inform those close to you, allowing them to support you during times of conflict.

Conflict Resolution in a Box

The complex and emotionally-charged task of resolving personal conflict can be distilled into a simple and powerful method called a “conflict box.” By segmenting the issue and understanding one’s own role in the conflict, it becomes easier to identify and tackle unresolved disputes, ultimately helping you reach emotional equilibrium.

We all face conflicts in our lives, whether with friends, coworkers, or family. These unresolved issues often become burdens on our emotional well-being, causing stress, anger, and regret. To regain control and find peace, let’s explore the concept of thinking ‘inside the box’ – creating a conflict box, that is.

To create a conflict box, follow these steps:

1. Start by drawing a box and dividing it into nine rows.
2. In the top row, write the name of the person with whom you have an unresolved issue.
3. In the second row, jot down up to five words describing what this person did or failed to do.
4. Describe how you feel when thinking about this person in the third row. For instance, are you angry, hurt, or disappointed?
5. In the fourth row, rate these feelings on a scale from one to ten, using zero as your baseline and ten as the most intense emotion.
6. State the duration of the conflict in the fifth row.
7. If it helps, label each row with a brief summary of what the conflict is about.

After completing these steps, assess the person, the situation, and your conflict box’s content. Ask yourself whether you want to resolve the dispute, and if you’ve done everything possible to achieve that. If the idea of confrontation is daunting, consider working on a different conflict first. However, if you feel this person is a lost cause, be honest with yourself and focus on someone you genuinely care about and want to resolve issues with.

When you’ve decided on the right individual, add the sixth row to your conflict box. Admit your role in the conflict by describing your behavior and contributions to the issue. This doesn’t imply admitting fault or playing the victim – it’s about acknowledging and taking ownership of your part in the matter.

This conflict box serves as an invaluable reflection tool, summarizing essential aspects of the unresolved issue at hand. As you work towards resolution, this box provides insight and guidance, helping you achieve emotional balance by addressing and conquering personal conflicts.

Mastering Your Relational Blueprint

Ever feel uneasy when your partner doesn’t reply promptly to your messages or crave some alone time away from the world? Your relational blueprint, built on past experiences with significant relationships, is the foundation of your attachment and social patterns. To better understand your blueprint, evaluate your attachment relationship – the primary bond formed with a caregiver during childhood. A secure attachment relationship, developed by feeling supported, challenged, safe, seen, and soothed, lays the foundation for successful adult relationships. Insecure attachment, however, results from caregivers being too distant or close, leading to emotional shutdowns, a sense of insecurity, and difficulty resolving conflicts. By learning how to work through conflicts, you can rewire your brain, understand the conflict repair cycle, and gain control over your relational destiny.

Has anything ever set you on edge, like worrying when that special someone doesn’t reply to your texts? Or do you crave moments of solitude to escape the chaos of the world? It all comes down to your relational blueprint – the impressions left on you by past high-stakes relationships with family, friends, and partners. These connections shape how you’ll interact with others throughout your life.

To improve your relationships and react better during conflicts, it’s essential to understand your unique relational blueprint. Your attachment relationship, the principal bond formed with a caregiver when you were young, is the critical foundation of this blueprint. When you felt secure, supported, challenged, safe, seen, and soothed as a kid, you’re more likely to develop well-adjusted adult relationships. As an adult, the people you form significant connections with will mutually satisfy each other’s relational needs.

Unfortunately, not everyone benefits from a secure attachment relationship. Those who had caregivers that were too distant or excessively close often form an insecure attachment, leading to emotional shutdowns, feeling uneasy in relationships, and experiencing disconnection from life.

Having unresolved issues in relationships – known as disconnects – is normal. The key is to repair these disconnects, ultimately returning to a connected state known as “zero.” The way you navigate this conflict repair cycle, moving between connection, disconnection, and reconnection, has been influenced by your childhood experiences with adults.

It’s possible to feel disconnected in a world filled with hundreds of virtual friends. But remember, you won’t be enslaved by your relational blueprint your entire life. Instead, by learning how to address conflicts and understanding the importance of connection, you can rewire your mind to master the normal conflict repair cycle. Taking control of your relational blueprint will subsequently reshape your relationships and your destiny.

Embrace Conflict, Discover Yourself

Conflict is often seen as a source of discomfort and something to be avoided. However, avoiding conflict might not be the best solution. Embracing conflict and addressing it properly could lead you closer to your true self and bring about better relationships and genuine connections.

Conflict might seem unsettling, but it’s an essential aspect of our lives. As described by self-care expert Cheryl Richardson, “if you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.” We often have a duality inside us – a free, wild, and innocent true self alongside a strategic self that adapts to its environment to mitigate perceived threats. This inner conflict intensifies when we face challenges in our adult lives. That’s why addressing conflicts head-on is crucial; it brings us closer to our true selves.

Now, let’s say you’re confronted with conflict with someone in your life. There are two primary ways to approach it: Option A – being honest and facing the conflict, but risking the relationship, and Option B – avoiding the conflict to maintain peace, but suppressing your true self. Seemingly easier, option B ultimately leads to a conflict build-up that can be more destructive when it finally surfaces. Additionally, greater issues emerge, including the initial conflict, our repressed inner conflict, and the new conflict created by avoidance.

Analyzing your fears while dealing with conflicts can be revealing. Consider the potential consequences of speaking your truth and how they make you feel. It’s essential to recognize that choosing option B, avoidance, is essentially an act of self-protection against these feared outcomes.

There is a more effective alternative, however: learning to resolve conflict correctly – Option C. This approach encourages understanding, honesty, and connection, allowing you to express your true self while strengthening relationships rather than damaging them. Option C is advantageous as it shifts our response to conflict from avoidance to honest engagement, ultimately leading to a healthier, more authentic life. Embracing conflict can be a transformative experience, bringing us closer to our genuine selves and paving the way for meaningful connections with others.

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