Because I’ve had decades of emotional dysregulation, complex PTSD, dissociation, malnutrition, depression, and two incurable illnesses, not to mention the heartache, loss, and disappointment that this has brought with it.
Self-Regulation is a learned skill that begins developing in childhood, and improves as it is practiced and improved in adolescence and adulthood. Children learn Self-Regulation through warm and responsive relationships and watching the adults around them. Self-Regulation includes the ability to regulate reactions to strong emotions, calm down after something exciting or upsetting, focus on a task or decision, refocus attention, control impulses, get along with people calmly, and act in your own best interest even when feelings suggest taking a different action. Self-Regulation is necessary to learn and focus, stick with difficult tasks, consider other peoples perspectives and see things from both sides, interact appropriately, problem-solve, manage difficult or tricky situations, make long-range decisions, think things through, and learn to adjust in new situations.
Dysregulation is a brain injury that usually begins developing in childhood as a result of sustained stress over an extended period of time. Dysregulation occurs when brain waves and some of your body systems get out of sync when certain triggers happen and this develops often as a protective mechanism to guard a child’s developing brain from the potential harm from trauma or extreme sustained stress. This is a brilliant coping strategy for a child, but as you get older it hurts you rather than helping you. When you have Dysregulation and you’re stressed brain waves and vital signs go out of their normal synchronise patterns and they get out of sync, discordant. Researchers can see in 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. This brain change occurs when you are triggered and causes Dysregulation. When you are Dysregulated it is very hard for you to think things through, focus and plan, interact, adapt to change and adust to new situations, consider and make decisions, set boundaries, persevere and problem-solve, and consider multiple perspectives of a situation. This makes it very hard for you to navigate your life.
Complex PTSD is not technically curable, but I have learnt to heal the symptoms and so can you!
I have healed my Dysregulation by:
Learning to take ownership of my healing, my decisions, my boundaries, and my triggers
Surrendering my resentment and fear about the world
Training myself to replace my Dysregulation with Self-Regulation through intentionally practicing it
Training myself how to self comfort so I can bring myself back out of Dysregulation
And doing this all over and over again until they became skills I could do automatically.
Your triggers are the problem - that make you get Dysregulated, make you get disconnected, and make you act out with self-defeating behaviors.
If you struggle with Dysregulation you need to know three things:
Dysregulation can be healed by learning Self-Regulation.
There is no one and nothing, no doctor, no medication, no therapist, no magic that can give you Self-Regulation or healing.
You are the only one with the power to learn Self-Regulation so that your life changes.
Notice when you are triggered.
Pause and say to yourself, “I am having an emotional reaction” or “I am feeling triggered” or “I am getting dysregulated”. By acknowledging where you're at out loud to yourself it helps you separate the part of you that's getting overwhelmed from the part of you that knows what to do about it.
Make sure you're safe, if you're driving find a safe place to park, if you're using equipment - stop for a break, if you're in a discussion or on the phone - in the nicest, most caring way excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. You can say, "I want to continue this conversation, but I need to go to the bathroom" or "I want to continue this conversation, but I have a call on the other line, I'll call you right back".
Don't discuss it, just say you need time and give yourself time.
Give yourself a longer pause than you think you need.
If pausing feels impossible - if it feels really urgent - like you need to make a decision right away or solve something right away - it's probably the dysregulation talking - go to the bathroom and pause.
If someone asks why you took so long in the bathroom, you can honestly say you didn't feel well and just rested for a tiny bit.
Stamp your feet on the ground - say silently left foot, right foot (this really helps to re-regulate your body).
Take 10 slow deep breaths and push your tongue to the back of your teeth.
Sit down and feel the weight of your body in the chair, on the toilet, or wherever you are sitting.
Wash your hands with soap and water - feel your hands, feel the water (if you are at home, take a cool shower).
Get a good squeezing hug - if you are by yourself, stand with your back to a wall, push your back against the wall and squeeze your arms around your torso. Stay there until you feel back to normal.
If possible, eat something. You might feel you need sugar, but protein is more effective. A spoonful of peanut butter, a handful of sunflower seeds, a cheese sandwich.
Notice when you’re not being supportive towards yourself - when your self-talk isn’t supportive towards you, when the stories you’re telling yourself are not supportive towards you.
Begin with a plan - if you know something keeps tripping you up, intentionally plan your response - what you’ll say to yourself or how you’ll support yourself before it happens.
e.g. If you know you feel guilty or bad about yourself when specific things happen, plan beforehand that you’ll instead be supportive towards yourself when those things happen.
Write it out: When ____ happens, I will ____ to be supportive to myself and not let ____ (guilt etc.) drain my energy.
Accept that your vulnerability is a good, positive and even powerful thing. Yes, the Dysregulation is terrible, but as you learn these Re-Regulation techniques and learn the skills to notice your Dysregulation - you are step-by-step conquering it and replacing it with Self-Regulation skills!
It’s vulnerable to notice and accept your Dysregulation, but it’s also the key to your resilience, calm and Self-Regulation. Vulnerability takes courage. Don’t fight your emotions, accept that the Dysregulation exists and it’s okay because you can heal it. Each time you notice your trigger you are healing. Each time you self comfort to bring yourself back out of Dysregulation you are healing. You are learning to Self-Regulate and as you practice that over and over, you are healing.
Accept that being perfect can’t shield you from blame, judgement, fear or shame.
Accept that And trying to avoid being human doesn’t prevent you from being human. You are human and flawed. You don’t have to try be perfect. You can aim for improvement and growth, not perfection.
Accept that you’ll always have emotions. Allowing yourself to feel emotions is how emotions can change.
Don’t judge your emotions. Emotions aren’t good or bad. Emotions don’t determine your worth. Emotions aren’t facts about you or about someone else.
An old Cherokee legend starts with a Grandfather telling his grandson about a battle going on inside every person.
He says, "The battle is between two wolves. One is evil. It is angry, envious, jealous, sorrowful, regretful, greedy, arrogant, self-pitying, guilty, resentful, inferior, dishonest, proud, superior, and egotistical. The other is good. This wolf is joyful, peaceful, loving, hopeful, serene, humble, kind, benevolent, empathetic, generous, truthful, compassionate, and faithful."
The grandson looks up at his Grandfather and asks, “What happens, which wolf wins?"
His Grandfather smiles and replies, "The one you feed."
Viktor E. Frankl, a neurologist, psychologist and Holocaust survivor is also the author of one of the most mind-altering books I have ever read, Man’s Search For Meaning. In it he describes his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps, including his search for meaning and sense in the midst of this nightmare. He writes,
“Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings? Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors - be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature? Is man but an accidental product of these? Most important, do prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his (or her) surroundings? Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?
We can answer these questions from experience as well as on principle. The experiences of the camp life show that man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, givin away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.
Seen from this point of view, the mental reactions of the inmates of a concentration camp must seem more to us than the mere expression of certain physical and sociological conditions. Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner become was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually.”
I don’t say any of these things because of any reason other than that I have seen healing in myself and I know it is possible only for that reason.
I have 15+ years of first-hand women's empowerment experience healing myself and working with other women and girls. I did not study psychology or medicine, I studied a 4-year degree managemnent degree. But I have bucket loads of real life experience dealing with exactly what I’m here to help you with.
My experience includes:
32+ years healing from rape and complex PTSD
28+ years living with Type 1 Diabetes
26+ years living with on and off Chronic Depression
15+ years of first-hand women's empowerment experience healing myself and working with other women and girls
14+ years walking with Jesus Christ as my Saviour and King
13+ years living in gratitude and peace since I began learning to love my life, live my boundaries, and regulate my emotions!
12+ years living with severe malnutrition (that doctors couldn’t fix)
8+ years living with Celiac Disease (finally - the reason for my malnutrition)
7+ years working at an international corporate company
4+ years working with a crisis center, safe house, and victim support group
3+ years working as a volunteer trauma counselor with rape victims
2+ years working as a life coach
1+ year getting certified as a life coach by New Insights Life Coach Training, including supervised practice coaching.
I ❤ dogs - the little black dog in the photo is Traxx - the first dog I ever fostered and a complete foster fail!
My guilty pleasure is sitting in my PJ’s binge-watching Netflix all day long on a Saturday 😎
With diabetes and celiac disease I’ve got lots of diet restrtictions… but no matter what… I always find a way to keep popcorn, chocolate and coffee in my diet!
I’m Lynda Wright, a certified life coach living in Cape Town, South Africa. I help fix unstable emotions so you can become the confident, capable and courageous person you are meant to be! Get in touch:
Book a consulation | +27 (0) 60 972 1254 | email@example.com
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