What do you do when you get stressed out or scared? Chew on your nails? Throw things? These are forms of regression. Regression is a coping mechanism in which you regress back to something from your childhood. Many people actually do this at times of stress without even thinking about it. Like when a couple has a fight and one of them goes back to their parent or sibling’s house for security and comfort. Or if you just stop talking to each other when you get mad. It is considered a natural and healthy action as long as it does not hurt them or anyone else.
Acting Like a Child
There are extreme forms of regression in psychology that can be worrying. When a child who has already passed through infancy starts reverting back to infant-like actions, parents can be alarmed. Like the second-grader who starts wetting their bed when they are being picked on at school or the teen who throws a tantrum when they are upset about something that happened to them. Although it is most common in children who do things like suck their thumb, cry, or stomp their feet when they get anxious about something, adults take it to the extremes as well.
Sometimes, when we get upset or worried about something, we regress to an earlier period by doing things that we would not normally do. Even if you learned to not drink alcohol or do drugs as a youngster, you may divert back and go on a bender when you have a stressful day. It can affect your relationship as well. For example, after a serious fight with the spouse, you may decide to get revenge by cheating on them. This is an extreme way to handle things but is actually quite common. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons for cheating.
Indulging in Bad Behavior
These two things can actually be related in a way because one may lead to another. Your partner may get mad at you for something and go to the bar and have a few drinks. This may lead to talking to another woman while they are at the bar. Because alcohol can relax the inhibitions, the more alcohol you drink, the better your chances of doing something stupid. Have you ever been so upset or scared of something that you feel frozen? Like you just cannot figure out what to do? This is another form of regression. Going back to your infancy when you just could not do anything, and nothing was in your control.
How to Recognize Regression
In most cases, you can tell when someone is regressing by their extreme actions. Children who throw temper tantrums are regressing just as an adult would regress in a similar way by throwing things. However, sometimes it is hard to tell when your partner is regressing. They may just stop talking and refuse to communicate at all. Remember when your five-year-old would do that? Exactly. This is the same thing. Although you may not see this as a problem because it ends the argument and things eventually go back to normal. But these issues do not just magically go away. Although your partner may seem like they got over it, they are just repressing the anger and that is not good.
Communication is Key
When something like this happens, it is important to talk to your partner about what is going on. This does not mean that you should follow your partner to the bedroom and try to get them to keep talking about it. They may need time to decompress and cool off before talking about it anymore. But do not just forget about it either. Wait until things are calm and your partner seems like they are relaxed and ask if they want to talk more about it. Of course, if they say no, you should not push it. Give it a day or two.
Honestly, regression can be a healthy way to deal with stressful situations like arguments because shutting down can deescalate the situation. However, if you find yourself constantly chewing on your nails or having an extra cocktail to decompress, this is not a healthy way to deal with things. You may be using the “ignore it and it will go away” theory, which never works. Ignoring things will usually make things worse.
Online Regression Therapy
There are ways to work things out by talking to an online therapist or relationship counselor. Even for those who do not like to talk about their feelings can benefit from online therapy because you can do it through instant chat or texting, writing down your feelings instead of talking about them. Another benefit is that you can do it from the comfort of your own home. You feel more secure at home and it makes it much easier to express your feelings on your own turf, so to speak. Contact an online counselor today and start working things out.
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