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003. Communication Clashes, Emotional Growth, and Love

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Sharing three key tips for discussion, stress reduction, and healthy relationships.

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Episode Summary:

In this episode of the Your Killer Life podcast, Tammey and Griff talk about the realities of stress, communication, and working as a team through the chaos of breast cancer. Sharing personal and intimate reflections, they discuss past traumas and breaking old communication patterns that could have been destructive to their relationship. Identifying three communication tools, they share how utilizing these concepts enhanced their communications success, and created a safe space for them to emotionally grow and heal - both individually and together.

“Approaching every conversation or every problem with the assumption that something has to be fixed… effectively what you are telling your spouse is that he or she is not capable of doing that by themself.-Griff Woodford Click to tweet

Topics in this Episode:

  • Our stories regarding stress

  • Individual vs. Social Stress

  • Communication and communicating in crisis

  • Emotional awareness comes from emotional safety

  • We don’t all emote the same way

  • Help create each other’s “Safe Space’.

  • Are you reacting or responding?

  • If you don’t know how to help. . . ASK!

  • Signing off

Contact Information and Social Links:



Hello and welcome to your killer life. I am your host, Tammey Grable-Woodford, and I am so excited to be with you here. So excited to have you here with us, actually. This is, um, gosh, our second episode together with my amazing cohost, Griff Woodford.

Griff: Hi everyone, again.

Tammey: So, welcome back and thank you so much for being here.

Griff: Thanks for having me back!

Tammey: Yeah! So, we are looking forward to talking today about stress management. So those of you out there who have been diagnosed with cancer, even if you haven't been diagnosed with cancer, there's enough stress in the world that this is, this is a podcast that, this episode is pretty relevant all across the board.

Griff: Yep, I would say it's universal. The last podcasts we did together, if you guys managed to catch that was um, being successful in trauma. Trauma being, of course, one of those things that no one gets out of. Well, the number two to that, would be stress. So again, it doesn't matter your lifestyle, how affluent you are, you are always going to experience it.

There is no getting out of that. So rather than trying to get out of it, trying to run from stress. Learning some, uh, some methods and some imperatives and making that stress more manageable and a lot less impactful. So that's why I'm here today.

Our Stories of Stress

Tammey: Awesome. I love it. You know, when I, there's so much, uh, to the, to the story of stress, at least in my life. I mean, one of the things that I've known for a long time is that I have actually had adrenal fatigue because I was always burning the candle at both ends, and interestingly enough, that could, could… could have contributed, there could be a correlation to, to the breast cancer with that stress and not mitigating it.

And I thought I was managing my stress because I was getting up at 3:30-4 o'clock in the morning and running five miles on the treadmill. On the days I didn't do that. I was doing P90X plus AB-Ripper. So, I was working out 90 plus minutes. And so I thought that that was how I was managing my stress.

When I made life changes, big life changes. And I remember leaving the job and all the chaos, and, and I forget what the scenario was, but I was standing in the kitchen and I looked at you and I said, “Oh my gosh. I used to feel like this all the time!” and I could actually feel that stress in my body, and that had been my normal for so long.

Frankly, what I thought was coping, was not even really hiding it. It was giving me adequate fatigue and it was giving me endorphins.

Griff: Right?

Tammey: But it was not actually managing stress. So, let me ask you a question. How does stress management pertain not just to the individual, but to the team, to the unit?

Individual vs. Social Stress

Griff: Well, you know, that's, um, well, one of the main reasons why I'm here. Each one of us. We all kind of have our own means and methodologies for handling or individual stress. You know, this isn't so much a talk about how “just you” can manage that stress maybe more healthily. I mean, we, there, there will be some dialogue about that, but, uh, in particular it's about managing stress as a unit.

One of the main themes in this podcast is cancer diagnosis. So, we have, obviously, we have a lot of cancer, cancer survivors, people who are currently going through the medical interventions for cancer.

Tammey: Caregivers.

Griff: Exactly. Right. Right. So the, uh, the imperatives on managing stress as a unit. In many cases, and again in particular that we are social creatures. We are, we are meant to be with others, with another, uh, with the group we are, we are tribe oriented. So, the fact that we relatively know how to manage our own stress does not mean that we know how to manage stress together. And if we look at the, um, gosh, just the divorce rates for husband and wife, or just spouses in general, who there's a cancer diagnosis in that, or, you know, pick your poison as far as stress. You know, that life altering stress, life-altering trauma, and the stress that's caused from that, that is one of the key and critical factors of losing a very important relationship and losing a very important person in your life. So, the importance of stress management as a unit often does take precedence over stress management as the individual.

Now, here's the cool thing. If we really get a good handle on that unit, stress management, it dramatically reduces our own individual stress. Again, being social creatures, we, a lot of our, our emotions are, our attitude is gleaned from others around us. If we are able to create a, I won't say peaceful, but a calm mood or outlook between the people who are important with us, that dramatically reduces our own stress.

So, in those terms, it's pretty obvious that. The individual in this case will typically take less precedence over the unit.

Tammey: So, I love that, and that is such an interesting way to frame it. Because I think oftentimes when we think about stress, we really, we think about mitigating stress just just for ourselves.

Griff: Right?

Tammey: We think about our reaction to stress as something that is ours, but the, the wave or shockwave, sometimes of that stress and how it reverberates throughout the unit is not something to dismiss. And it is something that is, um, I would argue healthier to, at least it has been for me, you know, to have that safety of the unit, to be able to have the expression, and I don't know, the ability to, to just use, use your words and, and have that stress.


Communication and communicating in crisis

Griff: Exactly, exactly which that is a perfect intro into the number one stress management tool or technique, whatever you'd like to call that. When we, we consider unit stress management, and that is number one, communication, communicating. Particularly in time of crisis. And, you know, for you and me honey, the cancer diagnosis, you know, you are, you know, for at least three years, you were always, uh, the focus of attention. You know, not just us as a small unit, but caregivers, family, you know, you're the one going through it. So you are the focus.

Being able to communicate openly, but more importantly, effectively. And. I guess being able to glean the, the critical points of that communication. That is what I would say, at least on my end, above anything else is what helped manage and mitigate, but we'll both have our stress.

Communicating without expectation, or without assumption is probably a better way of saying that. In relationship, we often have our, our assumptions based on familiarity. We assume that the other person should know “X” or should act accordingly based on “Y”.

That is certainly not how that works, particularly in… in time of stress and time of crisis. Having the ability to approach from a, I won't say non-emotional, but an emotionally aware point of view. And again, not assuming, don’t, don't assume that something is, is known or is going to be acted on.

Emotionally Awareness comes from Emotional Safety

Tammey: I love what you said about emotionally aware, and I was going to add to that, the, you know, without fear of retribution.

And so that is another… you know, a lot of times there's always the joke, right, especially with women, that whatever you say is: (laughing) a) this call is being recorded for training purposes, and it may or may not be used against you later. All right? So… we'll just toss out that, that general stereotype. (laughing)

But having the safety, in that space to be able to emote or… because I will be, I will be very vulnerable… and say that, you know, when you and I first met, it was so hard for me to use my words. You know, my default setting was to just run. It was to just get out, to just check out, to just create space and cocoon my way in.

And so you worked very hard and creating that safe space, and giving me the opportunity. At first, it really started with, I ca.. I can't, I cannot talk about this right now because I don't know how to explain what I'm feeling.

Griff: Right.

Tammey: And then the next day, being able to come back and say, “okay, I think this is where I'm at and why.” And trust that it wasn't going to be something that was thrown in my face in an argument over, you know, something petty a few months later or whatever. And I think that is so critical and so hard because when you start talking emotions, we have left the land of logic. (laughing) So…

Griff: Right, right. You know, and that's a really important aspect of, of communication is learning each other's communication format.

We don