Step 1: Regulate
When we become triggered, upset or shaken because something or someone has set us off, our brain temporarily goes “offline”. When this happens, we aren’t able to access full consciousness and operate from a fight or flight survival response. This can include saying things that are hurtful to our loved ones, doing things that put us at risk and making rash decisions based on emotion alone. In these moments, we should regulate our nervous system. This is very similar to what a parent does with a baby when it is distressed—it needs soothing. Words like “It’s ok, I’m here, you’re not alone, no wonder you’re upset”, are going to be very soothing and regulate the nervous system to bring us back. The tone of voice we speak to ourselves with plays a big part in this! (And yes—even in our private inner thoughts our voice has a tone—either harsh and critical or loving and nurturing).
Tip: Write down or record yourself saying something soothing to yourself that sounds similar to how a good parent would soothe a young child in distress. Listen back to it or read it when you need to regulate your nervous system next time you are triggered.
Stay tuned for Step 2 next week!