Today I’ve been sitting with how it is to be with intense emotions. I’m wondering, are the certain emotions that you notice, that knock you off balance? Or they feel more intense, or difficult to stay present to than others?
It could be maybe when somebody get really angry, they get intense, and in your face. Do you lose your voice? Do you get angry back and get reactive? Maybe you get scared. Or maybe when somebody else gets scared it terrifies you! It’s more than you can stay present with at all.
There are others of us that we might have a really tough time is somebody is just so sad. If they are so sad and consumed with their grief it just feels heavy and impossible and sticky and messy and we just want to get out as quick as we can.
Then there are others that are SO HAPPY. They are EXZUBERIENT with their JOY, and it feels really uncomfortable. It could be any of these, or maybe it’s disgust that knocks you out of the ballpark. That’s a pretty tough one, for most of us, to stay present to.
I know in my experience I was terrified of scary. If someone got angry it was not safe at all. If somebody else got scared, I was like a watchdog looking to see where’s the danger? I’d jump really fast and my body would give me away. Then I’d be consumed with shame, because I didn’t think I should show up that way.
Yet unless we have the opportunity to be in relationship with others that stay relational with us, we don’t know how to self-soothe. We don’t know how on our own to do that, it’s not possible as humans. We need relationships with others.
I am so grateful for all of the others in my life, of which there are many, that offer me co-regulation. They offer me relationships of trust, of nurturance, that grows my ability to be resilient.
To where it’s really possible when somebody gets really angry, they could even be livid with you, and you can stay present and hear their heart. You can begin to tune in to what’s the need under that, what got missed, what wasn’t heard or felt by anyone else? It’s coming up right now to be welcomed, instead of being made wrong.
Or if someone is really scared and they flip their lid, can you be the master regulator and stay present and curious and open-hearted with warmth and kindness? Because that’s what is needed.
When we can stay calm and yet alert, tracking the environment, then it supports other nervous systems to begin to come back online as well. So together, we can be really powerful, when we stay in relationship with one another. With warmth and resonance.
It’s possible to have the mindset that it’s safe to slow time down. To take the time to be in relationship, rather than being in a hurry to get on to the next thing. Or to get away from other people when we feel uncomfortable.
How do you think that might be possible? How do we grow our capacity to stay in relationship when intensity shows up? Or maybe it’s not even that much intensity that takes us out. How do we grow our heart-space to be more accepting of what is?
For me it’s learning how to do the dance of co-regulation, and we need a partner for that. Being able to partner up with a trusted other and practice pausing. Noticing when you get triggered and acknowledge it’s a trigger to your trusted partner. Take turns practicing; if you know you get scared by a certain look on the face, or a certain body posture, or a certain tone of voice, have your partner slow it down and amp the trigger up gradually. This way you can notice what that’s like gradually in your body.
What you find will astonish you. When you slow time down like that, recognizing what happens in your body and making empathy guesses that resonate with your experience, you begin to grow your window of tolerance into a window of welcome for that emotion.
This is a practice with compassion, and if you are willing to practice this find someone you trust. Talk about what triggers you and grow your window of welcome for emotions that before you just didn’t know how to stay present with.
In order to do that dance of co-regulation, it takes time and it takes a relationship of trust with another being. It’s essential to have repetitive experiences so your body can adjust over time. Then you grow what is known as ‘Post Traumatic Growth’ you grow I MAKE SENSE NEURONS!