About this weeks topic
Today we dive into the world of emotional dysregulation and trauma. Our autonomous nervous system is the key to self-leadership and agency. Through emotional regulation we can expand our capacity for presence and become less overwhelmed and more creative and all areas of our lives. This is a long lecture, I recommend watching it in two parts and taking some time in between.
This weeks videos
Stephen Porges - The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-Regulation
Daniel Siegel - Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology
Daniel P. Brown & David S. Elliott - Attachment Disturbances in Adults: Treatment for Comprehensive Repair
Peter Levine - Waking the Tiger
Bessel van der Kolk - The Body keeps the Score
Gabor Maté - The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness & Healing in a Toxic Culture
Gabor Maté - Scattered Minds
Iain McGilchrist - The Master and his Emissary
Daniel Siegel - The Neurobiology of 'We': How Relationships, the Mind, and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are
The Tapping Solution
Link between ADHD and developmental trauma
This weeks Exercises & Homework
1. Becoming aware of the different states of your nervous system and learning how to track them in your body
2. Making some first experiences with regulating your state into more capacity through breath, sound, movement and touch
3. Becoming aware of moments where your emotional states feel inappropriate to your actual context in relational situations
Exercises Emotional Regulation:
Pay attention to your perception of safety. What is happening in your body when you feel unsafe? How do you experience the three states in your body? What happens when you're triggered? Do you feel contraction, heat, vibration, tightness, what are your bodily sensations? Journal about your specific perception of dysregulation and the bodily sensation it's coming with.
Start incorporating long and deep breaths with a loud exhale into your daily life. Take deep breaths throughout the day, try even starting your day with them. Pay attention how your body responds to them.
Try out to spend 5 minutes every day just naming your bodily sensations to become more attuned to your subtle sensations.
If you become aware that you are in an activated state, try out the following resources:
- If you feel angry (FIGHT), try taking a stable martial arts stance with one leg in front of your center and one leg behind, push your hands against someone else's hands, make eye contract, allow your self to growl like an animal, engage your facial muscles and make loud sound. If you are alone, practice with a wall or move your hands with extended arms around you as a gesture of guarding your space.
- If you are scared (FLIGHT) try actively engaging your legs, moving forward and backward, left and right, moving through the space or even start running.
- If you are stuck in between those states (ACTIVE FREEZE) try both resources for flight and fight and notice what happens!
- If you feel numb, collapsed, depressed, dissociated (IMMOBILIZE), try tapping your whole body from head to toe, shake out your legs and arms, jump up and down for 1-2 minutes (especially when you feel resistance to it), actively straighten your spine, lift your head, open your shoulders wide, raise your arms, make yourself big. Try to get as much sensation and sensory awareness into your body as possible.
- In all cases: take as many deep, long, slow breaths with loud exhales as possible.
Notice what is shifting in your experience as you try out these resources. Is your perspective shifting? Are the bodily sensations changing? What about your focus?
Don't worry if you don't feel dramatic changes immediately, keep practicing and learn to get more sensitive and attuned to your nervous systems state and your subtle bodily sensations.
Starting to build a relationship to the parts that have split off from our sense of self is a long journey. These parts don't have names and they don't come with contextual, explicit information. They only have emotional states, bodily sensations and implicit perceptions, as well as expectations and predictions.
Connecting to them requires attention, sensitivity, patience and compassion. They are younger than us, and often in a state of mistrust. It is similar to building a relationship to a scared child.
Your first job is to create safety for them, which means creating safety for ourselves. Then we can approach them with curiosity and the willingness to feel what they feel, allowing what was too much in the past, to be felt by your present self that has more capacity. Ideally you bring these parts not just into connection with yourself, but also allow them to be there when you relate to others.
Through continuous inquiry into their felt experience, the openness to let those emotions move through your body, and new contextual information these parts can become integrated parts of a whole sense of self again. This requires time, so don't expect big breakthroughs immediately, but open to a long journey of re-connecting to your self.
Follow the following reminders to build a practice of trauma awareness for yourself:
- Build a routine of deep breaths, somatic awareness, and self-regulation
- Become aware of implicit memories merging with your present moment experience when you're triggered or relational needs aren't met
- How do these memories live in your body? What are the bodily sensations and movement impulses you notice? What happens if you name this part in relationship to others and name their sensations as your own?
- Can you pick up a sense of self that feels different? How old does that part feel? What is the perspective on safety of that part? Is there a nervous system state connected to that part?
- Create a map of your parts that you can keep extending. Be creative, paint, write, or journal!