Flooding can happen in a variety of circumstances when an individual becomes overwhelmed with feelings. It happens most often during an angry argument. In the recently released, The Couples Guide to Thriving with ADHD, co-authored by Melissa Orlov and I, flooding is described as follows: “Flooding is a physiological response we have when we feel in danger or become extremely emotional. The parts of our brain needed to fight back are flooded with blood and oxygen for better performance. Unfortunately, these are taken from the parts of the brain that deal with logical thinking.” (p. 111).
When this occurs in an argument, there may be a moment when you know you should stop, but somehow that logical part of the brain doesn’t kick in, and the argument continues, and often escalates. At times like this, some of the harshest words often get spoken. Things are said that are often regretted later.
How do you deal with this scenario? The best thing to do is to do your best to avoid it altogether. One way is to do what was suggested in the prior blog about “Fair Fighting.” In other words, to agreeably disagree. Another is to know, to the best of your ability, those things that push your partners’ buttons the most, and to avoid them. And we often know what those things are. In one instance, it might be arguing in front of the kids that does it. In another case, it’s bringing up certain “hot” topics late at night when everyone is tired. Whatever it is, the best thing to do is to be sensitive to those things that put both of you over the edge. After all, in these kinds of arguments, it’s not like anyone wins. And the hurt feelings can last quite a while.
Another way to avoid these kinds of fights is to use Verbal Cues. I’ll be back to fill you in on them very soon.