Attunement: What It Is and How It Affects You

Introduction to Attunement

In your lifetime (or lifetimes, if you believe in reincarnation), your soul’s energy is unique to you. It is beautiful and resides in the physical body you have been gifted in this lifetime.

The same can be said about every person you may come in contact with. You will interact with many unique spirits, and some of the interactions may shift the entire composition of your soul. Whether the shifts be large or small, they are dangerous. If they are small enough, you may not notice a change until it is too late.

As we try to not only understand ourselves and the emotions we have, we must also navigate through the emotions of those who are closest to us. Whether it be a family member, a friend, or a partner, you will have times where there is a problem or a situation that must be resolved. 

phenomenon proven through the powers of science, Dr. John M. Gottman has become well-known for the attunement projects he has performed. Recorded in his book, the Science of Trust, guides you through how to best handle any conversation you may have with those you love.

What is Attunement?

Attunement is the reaction you have towards others and their emotional states, as well as how receptive you are in response to said emotions. Two significant elements of attunement are the tone that you bring into the conversation and your initial reaction to the situation at hand.

For those who are well-practiced in attunement, arguments and disagreements are easier to handle due to the skill. You find a resolution and don’t allow it to fester further, fixing it in the moment while the problem is containable.

One of the main factors of attunement is straightforward and efficient communication. You must be able to communicate directly with the person you are interacting with, and you must be great at de-escalation. Attunement is not an easy thing to learn, even having the science put in front of you.

Often, we get defensive of ourselves and our actions, causing rifts in conversations you try to have. When you communicate and are efficiently attuned to your counterpart, you will be able to validate your feelings and their feelings in the situation. You understand there are two unique perspectives and work to find a middle ground.

How It Affects Your Life

When you learn what attunement is, it unlocks the rest of the knowledge you can gain from the topic. While you may not realize it in the moments of interaction, your relationship’s foundation relies on your attunement with the other individual. If you are not properly attuned to a person, the strained interactions you have may slowly deteriorate your relationship.

Over time, this deterioration could lead to a fallout of some kind. If it doesn’t end with a significant fallout, it will mean you associate bad emotions with that person and will not enjoy time spent around them.

While it may not seem like a major deal to you, the way that you respond or react to the emotions of your friends and families hold the power to make or break it. Of course, there will also be times that the other person is not appropriately attuned to you and the world around them.

You have no control over the other person, but you can attempt to control the escalation of the situation. If you can keep the problem de-escalated, you may be able to find a solution even if the scenario seems like a never-ending loop.

How to Master Attunement

Dr. John M. Gottman mentions the acronym ATTUNE and how it can help you on your path to efficient attunement. Each letter stands for a different skill in attunement that you can utilize to guide yourself through a situation that needs to be resolved.

Awareness

When you communicate with the other individual you have a lovely relationship with, it is vital to be aware. Being aware includes not only the emotions of your partner but also the way that you are reacting to the situation. After all, the different tones that you can bring to a conversation are limitless. It is all about your choice of words and the method of vocal delivery.

If you are with your girlfriend and she lets out a deep sigh of disdain, your verbal response should not be, “oh, what is it this time?” This immediately shifts the tone to one of blame, implying your girlfriend doesn’t have valid feelings. When you want to be an aware listener or even an aware speaker, you must stay mindful of how you respond. No one should have their feelings invalidated.

Turning Toward

When you communicate effectively, you want to be seeing eye to eye with whoever it may be. To do this, you have to turn towards them metaphorically (and literally if you please). When you take the extra time to refocus your attention on the person, it makes the conversation a priority and validates the emotions of both members of this interaction.

It is easy to point fingers in arguments and disagreements, which is usually how the escalation of the problem happens. Communicating through issues means recognizing that each participant has a responsibility to not only themselves but everyone else involved. To speak without pointing fingers, you have to redesign and deliver your words in a fairly neutral tone.

You want to change “You did this” to “This is how I feel and here is what I believe would fix this.” You want to offer a solution rather than more problems.

Tolerance

Tolerance is not equal to agreeance or compliance. This is important to recognize, as some may reject attunement with the thought of tolerating some behaviors. No one has the right to use you as their punching bag. Tolerance is about keeping yourself level to deal with whatever may have arisen and attempting to view it from an outside perspective.

In every scenario that involves at least two conscious spirits, you will have two perspectives of the same story. While there is a chance someone may try to skew the truth of the situation, there is no point in arguing the facts. Arguing the facts creates more negativity, as you are accusing the other of lying.

It is easier to focus on resolving the issue than festering on it. If you go into the situation wanting to gain a new understanding and learn your counterpart’s perspective, you are doing better than most.

Understanding

It is difficult to relate and understand to other people when you only see the surface of what caused the uproar. When another person is going through a tough time, you don’t see all of the pressure that they are under.

While to you, it may seem like they are crying over something minuscule, it could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. When you are hoping to resolve a problem, it involves a sense of selflessness. You will have to temporarily put your own emotions to the side to fully hear what the other spirit is telling you.

To effectively understand the problem through your counterpart’s eyes, you may have to encourage them to talk. Phrases like “talk to me, baby” are commonly used. You may not have to do this if there is already trust, and therefore attunement, in your dynamic. You want to know how to help the other person; you do not want the other person to stop expressing themselves.

Non-Defensive Listening

Amongst the responsibilities of the listener is the responsibility to control their own defensiveness. When the other party is speaking, it is easy to justify what you did because you viewed it differently from them, but that doesn’t take their experience away.

Being non-defensive is hard to do as well, especially if you are running on empty emotionally. It is key to remember the love you have for your partner and the respect you feel for them. If you remember these strong details, it will be easier to keep your defensiveness at bay.

If you happen to be getting defensive, you can’t completely back out of the conversation and leave it. Instead, when you go to respond, you may want to provide a disclosure. “I am feeling defensive and I don’t want to respond defensively.” This will give you a window to calm yourself. Clear communication is the key to solving your conflicts, after all.

Empathy

Another crucial aspect of attunement you need to remember is empathy. By definition, the word empathy means “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” These can be big or small things, even if you don’t have personal experience with what happened.

This is the time in the discussion where the validation will come in handy. Even if you don’t appreciate the way it was brought up, there is a reason for the altercation to have happened in the first place.

A great way of validating someone’s emotions and showing empathy is altering your choice of words. “You feeling like this is rational” and “your feelings are valid” are two sentences that can make a world of difference in your conflicts.

These phrases will have an effect if you are sincere; if you do not truly empathize with a person and are trying to fool them into thinking so, it will put a further strain on your relationship.

Conclusion to Attunement

Attunement is essential in relationships, whether intimate or otherwise. While the goal is to guide yourself and the other person to a solution, you must remember that you can account for yourself only.

If someone wants to stay in their own bull-headedness, it is sadly something you may have to accept. However, if you are skilled enough in attunement, you will be able to handle situations with even the most stubborn. The easier you handle situations, the less stress you will have overall.

As you take this information to go forward, remember that staying calm and listening are what you are working towards. Your defensiveness is natural and can be hidden in simple words and gestures. You must open your mind and experience as the other person is. There is magic in every one of us. We simply need to learn how to control it. Good luck.