Gorilla Consciousness

Body Wisdom, Communication, Relationships
Non-verbal ways of communicating in an intimate relationship. Body language and other techniques can help when words are missing.

Non-verbal ways of communicating in an intimate relationship. Body language and other techniques can help when words are missing.

We recently posted an article on the trio of Attention, Appreciation and Affection from the recent Art of Love 2011 online series. And here’s another snippet from the series that also caught our eyes, from an interview with Gay and Kathleen Hendricks on a common issue for couples: how to break potentially endless cycles of conflict.


The adrenaline that’s roaring around in your system is a powerfully addictive drug, and many people are actually addicted to the adrenaline of conflict so that they depend on it kind of for a fix and to keep the relationship interesting. And we call that having a wargasm. It’s a big energy experience you have in yourself, but not a very positive one.

And so what needs to happen there is you need to shift out of that state of consciousness. One good way to do that, that we teach couples, is to drop out of words at that point and just make sounds. Because it’s more to the point because you’re actually functioning kind of in gorilla consciousness at that moment.

And so you might as well just drop out of human language and just growl. And we’ve had couples that tried that and about ten seconds into it they dissolve into laughter. They can’t keep the conflict state of consciousness anymore.
So that would be one of the quickest recommendations I could make, is just drop the words out, make some sounds and kind of blow the energy of it out so that you’re not kind of sitting on a whole bunch of pent up energy.

And then try to talk about what’s going on in some kind of way that you’re feeling sad about something, or you’re scared about something.

To get out of that anger state of consciousness, it’s good to shift to talking about something you feel sad about or something you feel scared about. Because that takes you down out of the super riled-up state of consciousness with anger.


One of the things you can add to dropping the words out, is noticing what you’re doing in your body. Because always when people are in a conflict, they’re doing some gesture, some repeated thing.

It could be poking your finger at your partner, it could be folding your arms and standing there like a sentinel. And we find that people exaggerate what they’re doing. It seems counter-intuitive, but it actually works really well.

If you exaggerate what you’re doing and drop the words out, you can actually get some insight into what filter you’re speaking out of. Or what trance you’re in, or what role you’ve taken on in that moment, that has you seeing your partner as the enemy. And so we have people begin to play with that and it works really quickly.

What a way to turn a really tense and painful situation into an illuminating and even humorous experience!