Why do you yell at your partner during conversations or disagreements?
What exactly do you hope to achieve when you yell at your partner? Is it that you feel helpless, you want to instill fear in them or that you always want people around to know that you are both quarreling or you want them to intervene?
Doesn’t it induce shame or make you feel some type of way that you and your partner cannot have decent conversations without you or your partner flaring up?
Yelling or screaming is something that has meaning to almost everyone. We have raised our voices at other people at some point in our lives. Some people come from homes with screaming parents and siblings. It is the reason we see many families and couples who yell at each other often. The short and long-term consequences of regular yelling or screaming are not good on those who experience it on a regular basis.
The impact of yelling at children according to a recent study by psychiatrists at a hospital affiliated to Harvard Medical School, revealed that shouting at children can significantly and permanently alter the structure of their brains.
Yelling scares most children. The younger the child, the more fear they feel. In a state of fear it is almost impossible for a child to think about their mistakes or misbehavior. If a child cannot think about their mistakes, they almost will not learn from that mistake. Children are likely not to learn the lesson you want them to learn when they are afraid. Instead of the lesson they might learn from normal, appropriate consequences associated with their mistakes, they learn to be afraid when you yell at them.
Always yelling at children before they have an expansive developmental use of language which is around age three and four, teaches them to replace useful language with yelling. This means a child will not learn useful and effective expression when yelling is their model. Yelling at children teaches them to yell. It is also a sign of aggression and it becomes their effective response to emotionally charged situations. By extension, it teaches them the ineffective way to process anger, and anger is usually associated with yelling.
Most times, children grow up to be yellers themselves, while the fearful ones often grow up to be fearful adults and parents. Being frequently yelled at as a child changes how you think and feel about yourself even after you become an adult and leave home. That’s because the brain wires our reality according to our experiences.
Yelling at your spouse/partner induces fear, just as it does in a child. Brain research has shown that it is difficult to think while in a state of fear. When you yell at your partner, the brain reads it as danger, and your partner experiences fear. With the brain immediately going in to some degree of fight or flight mode. How much reaction depends on the amount of perceived threat.
The behavior from your partner at that point will probably range from yelling back or defensiveness (fight mode) or silence/withdrawal (flight mode).
Unfortunately, neither will produce a positive outcome.
Fight mode which is also referred to as reactive mode, people tend to say things they regret or wish they could take back. Part of this fight mode include your partner reacting defensively by yelling back at you or giving you attitude.
The defensiveness triggers more frustration, anger and lashing out. Without knowing what to do, or how to respond differently, the cycle is repeated, and both parties suffer and struggle with a broken or unsatisfactory conflict management process. The next time an issue surfaces it will be anticipated with dread.
Flight mode is also known as silence/withdrawal. In flight mode, two common options arise: One, you either do not know what to say due to shutting down with fear or you may know exactly what you want to say, but you say nothing because a part of you believes that what you think and/feel does not matter, so why bother? Either way, you have no voice.
In the end, both partners are probably angry, hurt, disappointed, frustrated, and blaming the other for the breakdown in communication. But there was no breakdown in communication per se. Of a truth, there was communication, too much of it was ineffective.
Significantly, when we yell, there’s a breakdown in reaction management. All the good communication skills available will be of little or no use in the face of unchecked or poorly managed reaction. Chronic ineffectively managed reaction almost always has some roots in our history. And to make head way, we must connect our early roots to current events and patterns so as to help us develop reactivity management alternatives.
To be continued . . .