by Brittiney George
“Taking responsibility for your physiological state is not only about learning how to down-regulate your system, but it is about communicating your state to those around you…mammals evolved to co-regulate – meaning that we help each other regulate our states through care-giving and reciprocity.”* So how does Self-Awareness impact regulation and relationships?
A strong sense of self allows you to be in RELATION with others instead of REACTION to others.
Your body knows safety and danger and is constantly reacting to the cues received regarding it. “Your body can sense something and react to it without it necessarily entering your conscious awareness. In fact, your vagus nerve has two branches- an older branch that can be recruited for defense by going to the organs below the diaphragm and eliciting immobilization behaviors… and also another newer more evolved branch that, when functioning, keeps “fight/flight/freeze” in check, and supports your health, growth, and restoration. This branch is the part of your autonomic nervous system that is responsible for allowing you to connect, self-soothe, be playful, and be in relationship.”*
When you tune in to the physical and emotional responses in your body you get to know how you can move with them and learn from them, instead of merely reacting to them. When you acknowledge, give voice to, and share these experiences in relationship with another, it helps to regulate your system, and create more meaningful movement with your partner or friend.
What are some tools to help with regulation?
Honor Your Story by Choosing Who and What you Share: Honor when your gut is telling you, this isn’t someone I want to share my story with. If you find that difficult, try out some of the empowering statements below:
· Being authentic does not mean that everyone has the rights to all of me.
· I can choose who knows the details of my life.
· I can choose what I share and who I share it with.
· I choose to honor all of my emotions, even the ones that are hard for me.
· When I feel vulnerable, overwhelmed, or scared, I can choose to share my experience with someone that will receive my story with respect…..not agreement, not to hold the weight for me, not to take the pain away from me, but to respect the impact that what I’m sharing has on me.
*The quotes in this article are from Dr. Stephen W. Porges, creator of The Polyvagal Theory, and a distinguished university scientist at the Kinsey Institute and a Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina. Information from this article is available at: http://www.neilsattin.com/blog/2016/04/34-the-science-of-safety-with-stephen-porges/
Brittiney George, BS, CRS, CST-L3, ICI, CEIM, is a Somatic Therapist specializing in Transformative Touch. She offers Somatic Therapy sessions, Infant Massage and Baby Sign Language workshops, and exploratory movement classes at The Resiliency Center. She also co-leads Connection, Expression and Movement (CEM), a monthly workshop series focusing on body-mind integration. For a complimentary 55 min. Somatic Therapy session contact Brittiney at 610-389-7866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.