Here’s my cheat sheet for making some improvement in your life despite whatever big challenges you are living with:

  1. Accept responsibility for your own everything - your health, self-regulation, triggers, choices, problems, and situations.

    Most people are aware that taking responsibility for your own life is fundamental to ALL personal improvement - yet, it seems to often be the most difficult action to take - to finally and fully accept ownership of ALL of you!

  2. Accept control of your self-talk, thought stories, and stay in the present instead of looping your past.

    What you do or don’t think is up to you - no one else. There are ways to get your unsupportive thinking to stop being unsupportive and instead support you - don’t underestimate this one - it’s a habit, so it’s not easy to catch those unsupportive thoughts and it feels downright weird at first to start being gentle and kind and supportive towards yourself. But, since you are the only one in your head - you need to be supportive when the self-criticism starts. You are the only one who can be supportive to yourself inside your own head!

  3. Accept you need a plan for your weaknesses, bad habits, negative patterns, triggers and self-regulation, and you need to practice it for it to work.

    For example: You need a plan BEFORE you get angry or experience another overwhelming emotion. The reasonable and rational part of your brain is temporarily being overwhelmed by the emotional part of your brain. So you need a plan to notice BEFORE OR AS it starts and know exactly what to do then. Every single human being has something that “gets them every time” - you need to know yours, and you need to figure out your unique strategy to NOTICE it before it “gets you” and manage it.

  4. Accept your vulnerability - you are human and need to learn to use boundaries to function, same as everyone else.

    Accept that your vulnerability is a good, positive and even powerful thing. It’s vulnerable to notice and accept your triggers, lack of boundaries or any other thing that gets in the way of you being at peace, living in joy and enjoying love! Vulnerability is your key to get to all that good stuff. And it doesn’t stop at being vulnerable, because vulnerabilty becomes powerful and safe when it’s paired with proper boundaries.

It’s easy to focus on the more obvious stuff, but I’ve found that it’s these basics that are usually not in place - rather than the obvious stuff sticking out and often calling for attention.

Before I figured this out I spent years focusing on the tips of my icebergs without looking at the real big chunk of ice under the surface (a lack of boundaries, vulnerability, etc!).

My cheat sheet for making improvement in your life isn’t just 4 things, it also includes another 2 things:

  1. Accept help from God. For many people this one sounds more like, “Accept help from people”. If so many of us can’t even accept help from other people - it’s not surprising that it’s really tricky to contemplate accepting help from an invisible, mystical being that none of us can really understand. However, this one has helped me. I’m a huge believer in miracles and in prayer, but I did have an unfair advantage because my Grandmother and my Mom and my Dad are big believers in prayer and miracles. We weren’t the kind of family that prayed together all that much, but if something went wrong - prayer was one of the first suggestions out of my parent’s mouths. And I grew up on hearing my Grandmother, my Mom and my Dad telling me stories of answered prayers. Answered prayers from strangers, but also lots and lots and lots of stories that they’d tell over and over about answered prayers in their own lives. Whether you decide to consider this part of my cheat sheet for making some improvements in your life is 100% optional - freedom of choice is a big deal to me. Either way do try to find people though who support your desire to make improvements in your life - people who “get” that it’s important - so they can support you. Examples include support groups, hospital chaplins, charities that support empowerment, free helplines, etc. You need to make sure you have the support in your life you need. There’s always a way to build a support network - I’m an eternal optimist on this!

  2. Accept forgiveness. There is nothing worse than thinking about forgiveness because it means facing truth head-on, but there’s also nothing more powerful than forgiveness. You don’t have to feel forgiveness - forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a decision - you either choose it or you reject it. It’s purely a decision. When you do choose forgiveness you creates space in your heart and your mind where the bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment and anger was. And that space you create in your heart and your mind makes room for good. It changes something in the universe for you. It’s THAT powerful. Again, this part of my cheat sheet for making some improvements in your life is 100% optional. If you are not ready to consider forgiveness towards other people, try forgive yourself for anything you hold against you! That you keep calling yourself names about, or that you keep saying, “If only I had…”. Try to release it and to forgive yourself!

Now you know a bit more about how I think.

Many of the big challenges that many of us face mess a bit with how we deal with things - this might be a lack of self-regulation, a lack of boundaries, or something else entirely.

It’s my belief that regardless of what the big challenge is that you face - you need to focus on what you do control - these are the only things that you CAN do something about.

So this is my focus when helping you

What is Dysregulation?

Dysregulation is a brain injury that usually begins developing in childhood as a result of sustained stress over an extended period of time.

In a person who experiences Dysregulation certain triggers can cause brain waves and some of your body systems to get out of sync. On MRI’s and brain scans Dysregulation looks like the brain wave equivalent of a dog walking on a piano - discordant and out of sync.

Often this develops as a protective mechanism to guard a child’s developing brain from the potential harm of sustained stress over an extended period of time. This is a brilliant coping strategy for a child, but as you get older it hurts you rather than helping you.

Researchers can see on MRI’s and brain scans that when Dysregulation occurs the reasonable and rational part of your brain is temporarily being overwhelmed by the emotional part of your brain.

  • When you are Dysregulated you feel flooded with emotions like panic or rage and lose the ability to focus.

  • You might feel an urgent need to say and do things that are totally unlike your usual self, but also have trouble expressing your thoughts.

  • Afterward, you might feel completely confused about why you said and did those things.

The results of being Dysregulated makes it very hard to think things through, focus and plan, interact, adapt to change, and adjust to new situations. Dysregulation also makes it makes it very hard to consider and make decisions, set boundaries, persevere and problem-solve, and consider multiple perspectives of a situation.

Overall Dysregulation makes it extremely challenging to navigate life.

It is possible to retrain your brain to use Self-Regulation skills instead of using the injured, Dysregulated pathways in the brain!

If you would like further research, here are some suggestions that have taught me a lot:

Emotion coaching is a relational approach to supporting social and emotional development, promoting relationships and supporting behavior (April Romney 2020). It’s mostly applied as a parenting strategy to help kids develop strategies for coping with emotionally difficult situations, but emotion coaching is proposed to not only support the wellbeing of children, but also adults (Rose et al. 2015).

I highly recommend reading articles or watching talks by the following two specialists:

  • Bessel van der Kolk MD, a psychiatrist, author, researcher and educator who has been researching how children and adults adapt to traumatic experiences since the 1970s. He translates emerging findings from neuroscience and attachment research into effective treatments for traumatic stress and developmental trauma in children and adults. His book, The Body Keeps The Score, is highly recommended. Listen to this Podcast where Ezra Klein Interviews Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

  • Bruce D. Perry MD PhD, a psychiatrist, author, clinician and researcher in children's mental health and the neurosciences. His clinical research and practice focuses on examining the long-term effects of trauma in children, adolescents, and adults and has been instrumental in describing how traumatic events in childhood change the biology of the brain. Listen to this Podcast about trauma, resilience and healing: Brené with Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce D. Perry on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.

These three articles provide a simple overview about emotion coaching:

Book a consultation with me to discuss how emotion coaching can help you.

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More questions?

I’m Lynda Wright, a certified life coach living in Cape Town, South Africa. I help people with big challenges to live with peace, joy, and love by empowering themselves with personal boundaries - no matter how big their challenge(s).

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