1. Johann showing frustration about a work situation,2. Minnie becoming anxious that Johann is upset,3. Minnie fearing that Johann will be mad at her,4. Minnie doing or saying something to minimize or distract Johann from the upset,5. Johann feeling his upset being dismissed,6. Johann getting angry at being dismissed,7. Minnie feeling Johann’s anger and getting more anxious,8. Minnie trying to assuage her anxiety by trying to submit to Johann with apologies,9. Johann feeling shame for Minnie getting anxious about him.10. Johann getting angrier that now he has Minnie’s anxiety added to his original upset,11. Minnie feeling incompetent and guilty that Johann has gotten more angry/upset,12. Minnie repeating response #2 at a more intense level,13. and so on and so forth.
Or, Minnie can ask, “What do you want me to do? I’m feeling like I’m supposed to do something.”Or, Minnie can be aware of her anxiety and ask herself, “I’m getting anxious. What’s that about? It doesn’t have to be about me.”Or, Minnie can say soothingly to herself, “Johann is upset about work. This is NOT me messing up and getting into trouble like when I was a kid! I’m OK.”
Johann can say, “You don’t have to do anything. Don’t do that. You don’t have to because it’s not about you. Don’t distract me. Just listen to me and care.”Or, Minnie can say, “Oh, I just said that because I was trying to please you... take care of my being anxious about you being upset. Opps, I’ll stop. What did you say?”
Johann can say to himself, “Now I’m mad at Minnie instead! What’s that about? Oh yeah, I stirred up her anxiety about keeping me happy. Take a deep breathe... and now reassure Minnie it’s not about her and tell her to listen to me instead w/o ‘helping’ me.”
Minnie can say to herself, “Johann just got angrier... I got more scared! What did I do wrong? Oh yeah, I just did my worry worry thing and tried to make sure Johann was OK. He’s OK, but just upset.”Minnie can say to herself, “Johann just got angrier... I got more scared! What did I do wrong? Oh yeah, I just did my worry worry thing and tried to make sure I was OK for Johann. I’m OK even though he’s upset.”
Minnie can say to herself, “I just apologized. Damn... there I go again apologizing for being alive! I’m OK... breathe!”Johann can say, “You don’t need to apologize. I wasn’t angry at you at first. Now I’m getting frustrated that you feel you have to do something. You don’t. Relax. I’m OK, you’re OK... and my job sucks!”
Johann can say, “It’s your parents fault!”Minnie can say, “It’s my parents fault!”
Either can say, “This isn’t working. What did we just do? We’re doing the same thing again. Let’s start over. We’re missing each other... again!”