Self-Regulation During Life's Storms
The storms have rolled to Phoenix, and with them a heavy inner fog. Gone the temps that warmed and comforted in the 14 days of COVID. Now all the sensory intrusion of six people with ADHD and ACES living in close quarters and teens and special needs and selling a house of 16 years and starting a company are coming at me like lighting rods.
I’ve been self-regulating to avoid them but now they’re coming with a torrent that matches the rain.
Everything hurts, and the rain feels like hail now, sights and sounds of a bustling family assaulting my wearied nervous system. Please everyone go away. I’m doing everything I teach, and then some. What do I make of this?
This is where self-regulation gets tricky. I go back to what I just told our Alumni Group: Self-regulation doesn’t mean high performance. Self regulation means interrupting my threat response when I face my limitations.
My learning history tells me that my limitations are unacceptable, that my value ends as soon as my use does. That’s a brutal way to spend the first 22 years of life. But it’s such a well-traveled neural pathway that I unconsciously coalesce the the old and the new, telling myself something like:
“I self-regulate so I can perform and prove my value to myself and the world.”
That’s a toxic script, and it takes getting assaulted by mental hail to identify that I’m following it. Now that I’ve moved to a trauma-informed definition of self-regulation, I move to intentionality.
photo credit Kiara Howerzyl, FF ME Alumni
Jenny Brackman has served Arizona children and families impacted by ACEs for over 20 years. Her formal education comes from ASU where she studied closely under Bob and Barb Weigand, pioneers in the field of infant and toddler mental health.
In 2010 she and her husband chose to be foster parents and adopted a sibling group of three from foster care. Eight years later, she believes her best education has come from parenting five children and her marriage of almost 18 years.
Motivated by her own family’s experience with compassion fatigue, Jenny founded Rezilia to bring Dr. Eric Gentry’s research on resilience to lay-people.
Jenny is currently the COO of the Forward>Facing® Institute creating resources to equip a new generation of leaders with resilience.
In her free time you can find Jenny spending time with her family, making kombucha, or fighting with the guys at her local Muay Thai gym.