Self soothing and connection
Picture yourself as a toaster sitting on a kitchen counter. The cook is preparing a meal and you’ll soon be collaborating to make a bunch of delicious, golden brown toast. You’re plugged in, electricity is flowing through your wires, and all is well. Suddenly, something happens. Feelings of insecurity sweep over you and you no longer feel emotionally safe. Can I do this? Does the cook really love me? I don’t feel important anymore.
It’s as though the power cord is unplugged, you’re distraught and no longer able to join with the cook in making a lovely meal. The cook keeps popping in slices of bread, expecting you to do what you normally do and make toast. It’s not working. The cook is becoming irritable because you’re not doing what they expected of you. But you can’t, because you’ve lost connection within yourself and simply cannot do what you would normally do. The more they get irritable with you, the more you feel yourself floundering. The more you flounder, the more they get cranky.
You don’t know that the cook is also feeling upset and interpreting your actions. Thinking you don’t like being around them like you used to.
Back to you and your thoughts.
You’re thinking – doesn’t the cook realize what’s going on? Can’t they see you’re upset, and help you get plugged back in? You’re confused, annoyed, and scared. You try to communicate with the cook, but you can’t find the words. Eventually, the cook walks away and you begin to calm down. You call out to the cook and ask for their help in getting yourself reconnected. After all, you really enjoy making toast with them.
Sometimes, you’re able to calm yourself into a Zen-like state, plug yourself back in, and resume your toast-making magic with your cook. However, that becomes a serious challenge if the cook keeps shoving in the bread (talking) and getting annoyed because there’s no toast (connection).
The story above illustrates the importance of regulating and soothing feelings in order for connection to be possible. When you’re anxious, insecure, annoyed or concerned, it’s literally like the plug falls out and there’s no point trying to connect/converse.
Finding home base, being able to recenter within yourself, is a much-needed core skill.
Your nervous system that’s in relationship with the nervous system of others, and it’s seeking to connect and feel safe.
You can only offer someone who and what you are.
IF you can’t get back to center by yourself then reaching out to your partner to co-regulate those feelings you’re experiencing is a great idea. You and your partner are ideally able to do this for each other. That’s normal, natural healthy relating 🙂
Are you a safe, warm, trustworthy partner emotionally?
Join me in learning to self-regulate and co-regulate in Connection Essentials.