Prevent Drama with Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation
You know when you don’t feel so hot physically or emotionally, you are more sensitive to most things? The things that you would normally let go or that wouldn’t necessarily bother you, in this state, are actually experienced as aggressions. You can prevent pain and drama with self-regulation and co-regulation.
What does that mean? Self-regulation is the ability to manage our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in our journey. More specifically, emotional self-regulation is our ability to manage disruptive feelings and impulses in the face of triggers. It means having a moderate and appropriate response commensurate to the perceived infraction or stressor.
Co-regulation, then, is the ability of a person to manage their own responses in an interaction so that they are supportive to the other in managing their feelings and impulses. When one remains calm and soothing, their nervous system calms the other’s, producing a feedback loop that is soothing to both.
When managing responses to help alleviate a situation and support the other, we’d use non-verbal safety cues, warmth, a soothing tone of voice, communication that acknowledges distress, supportive silence if indicated, and an openness to discuss the experience.
This is why it’s so important to avoid the Dirty Dozen of Communication, to use intentional communication skills and up-leveled communication tools (if you work with us, check out Deep Dive 6: Stop the Fighting, Stop the Drama).
[Related: You Are What You Think]
More on self-regulation.
Self-regulation is super important as a life skill. When we get good at self-regulating, life becomes so much easier. We are not as triggerable and hypersensitive, we are more resilient, we are more steady and strong. We feel solid, unshakable, and empowered. We feel good about ourselves and our abilities. It actually contributes to our self-esteem.
Most people usually don’t take this on as a personal project, unless they are into personal development, are in therapy, or are a therapist. But this is not a bad thing to take seriously, and to take on as a personal development focus.
I can tell you that the people that did the best this past year are the people who have done some personal development work and have increased their resilience level.
When we are more solid and not as easily perturbed by the silly things in life, we just have a much easier go of it. It shows in our state of mind on a daily basis, in our interactions with others, in our relationship with our loved ones, in our work, and in our life in general.
When we increase our self-regulation and our resilience increases as a byproduct, we are no longer blown by the wind and don’t spend our resources on primarily dealing with ourselves and the drama we create.
This means that we have more internal resources for the things that are important to us in life, and for creating our best life. We are not showing up with noise and defenses. Can you see the full impact of this?
[Related: Drama and Pain in Uncertainty]
Improving your self-regulation.
Pursuing improving self-regulation doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s actually quite simple. It’s as easy as implementing a self-care practice.
A self-care practice is about taking care of yourself, mothering yourself. It is about giving yourself love and nurturing. And it’s about meeting your needs. When you embrace a self-care practice, you embrace a self-love practice. This is the reprogramming your brain needs to rewire itself and facilitate self-regulation.
If you are saying, "Who has time for self-care?" I encourage you to revisit that limiting belief. Where there is a will, there is a way. For example, my next-door neighbor power-walks up and down her driveway (as her children are home) while on work calls to fit in her daily exercise. Bam!
Now, I’m not suggesting or encouraging anyone to multitask this way. But I am suggesting that you can figure it out if you want to. It’s all about building habits into your daily routine to support your efforts. Building habits into your routine is an effective way to self-manage, as you become more intentional about your day and preventative of chaos, stress, and triggers.
Improving your self-management, improving your self-regulation, increasing your resilience, and increasing your self-esteem are all fabulous attributes to pursue, as these significantly contribute to the quality of your life.
When you are less triggerable and are able to stand still and not get blown by the wind, you are able to be available and present. You are able to show up calmly, soothingly, and compassionately to an interaction, and hence you are able to contribute to co-regulation as needed.
Additionally, when you show up better, you are less likely to trigger others, in turn allowing them to show up properly for you and also contribute to co-regulation. Ta-da!
There is a built-in feedback-loop in the reciprocity of the interactions. This is how you change relationship patterns and dynamics.
I hope you get how powerful and impactful this concept is. And that you can make a huge difference in your life with as simple a tactic as implementing a self-care practice through (wellness) habits in your daily routine.
Assignment: What say you? Ready now to implement a self-care practice, or up-level one you might already have? We can always stand to evolve more.
- Take stock of activities in your life that are meant to give yourself care and love. Don’t judge or shame yourself. Whatever you are at, it’s okay. Remember, you are on a journey.
- Check out our blog for prior blog posts on self-care and YouTube for inspiration and ideas of other activities that would replenish and enrich you. The idea is to appropriately give yourself more love.
- Choose three activities you’d like to implement, create habit behaviors of them, and integrate them into your daily routine.
Before you know it, you’ll see a massive difference in how grounded, steady, and strong you feel. And you’ll notice what a difference it’s making in your days. Go at it and fun with it!
As with anything, when you bring consciousness, focus, and attention to something, awesomeness happens. I wish this for you in your life.
Wishing you much joy, connection, and love today and always.
With much love and light!
[Related: Become a Master Problem Solver]
Emma K. Viglucci, LMFT is the Founder and Director of Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC, a private practice that specializes in working with couples. She is the creator of the MetroRelationship philosophy and the Successful Couple Strategy that help couples succeed at their relationship and their life. To stay connected with her and receive weekly connection notes in your inbox with personal development and relationship enrichment insights and strategies, visit www.metrorelationship.com.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
Founder, Clinical Director & Supervisor
Metropolitan Marriage & Family Therapy, PLLC
I've been in the mental health field in varying capacities for the past 20+ years. I'm the Founder and Director of MetroRelationship.com a psychotherapy and coaching practice specializing in working with busy professional and entrepreneurial couples who are struggling getting on the same page and feeling connected. Our Team at MetroRelationship.com helps couples create a radiant and authentic relationship and meaningful life by becoming a strong partnership and increasing their connection, intimacy, and fun. I... Continue Reading
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