Do you feel like you have a say in how you cope? How about in how you react to a situation? Or the ability to choose and manage your emotions, behaviors and thoughts?
If the answer to these is no, you are not alone. What you are experiencing, like so many others, is a disregulated nervous system. The good news is, is that you can in fact learn to regulate your nervous system and find the pause between the feeling and the response. Continue reading to learn more.
How do we become disregulated in the first place? Well, we come into these bodies as tiny infant babies with a developing nervous system. When a baby cries it needs the attention of a caregiver to help soothe the baby. This is co-regulation. However, if the caregiver is not regulated themselves, i.e. anxious, depressed, angry, etc., they will have troubles regulating the baby. On top of this, many of us who lived through the 80's, 90's and early 2,000's were taught the cry it out method. This was an idea that if you let your baby cry in it's crib, they would eventually learn to self soothe and would fall asleep. What studies show today is that the baby was not self soothing, but instead became so emotionally exhausted and is why they finally fell asleep. These are just a few reasons why many of us today are having such a difficult time feeling self-regulated.
So, how can we begin to create self-regulation within us? Check out the methods below. Feel free to try them all or take what serves and leave what doesn't.
Mindfulness- Being the watcher of the thoughts. The awareness of them. We are not our thoughts but instead we are the consciousness beneath them. In saying this, we can begin to allow these thoughts and sensations to pass by like clouds. Viewing the thoughts and asking, are they true? Can I change them? Can I release them? What does it need?
How can you investigate and nurture it?
Cognitive Reframing- Changing the thought pattern. Re-interprettating a situation in order to change your emotional response. For example, what if I fail can turn into what if I succeed? Allow the feelings of success to be just as strong in the body as the feelings of success were.
Diaphragmatic Breathing- Deep belly breaths. Breathing fully into the belly on the inhale and emptying completely on the exhale. Try this type of breath once a day and slowly work your way up to more conscious breaths.
Journal or voice notes- Let all your feelings out on paper or into a voice note if journaling just isn't your thing. Give words to your feelings.
Body Awareness- Become aware of nervous system triggers. Notice what happens within your body as you get triggered. Is it your heart rate that escalates? Maybe your body becomes tense and your breath gets shallow. Once you can be aware of what is happening within the body, you can begin to focus on calming and nurturing the trigger.
In every situation you have 3 choices- approach, avoid or attack. Let's work to approach the situation with love and kindness. Your behavior is in your control. Make it a practice and it will eventually become your habit.
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