Hands in a heart shape holding an infinity rainbox. Underneath the words Sandra Bell ND Coach
#19 How to share your calm, but not your storm

·        Co-regulation can go both ways, sharing calm or storm

·        How can you only share your calm? 

·        What to do after a storm is shared?

Co-regulation can go both ways, sharing calm or storm


As in my earlier blog post (#5), co-regulation is when we share our regulation, or dysregulation, with another. It isn't a conscious decision; it is hard-wired into our brains. All of us unconsciously scan our environment for signs of safety, our brain has evolved this way due to the hostile environments that early humans found themselves in. In today’s modern world it helps us pick up if we are psychologically and physically safe long before our conscious brain has processed this information. 

Because humans are social creatures, part of what that scanning picks up is the emotional state of other humans around us. We are particularly attuned to our family and friend’s emotions. Understandably for a child, if a trusted adult nearby is dysregulated (or in a storm) potentially signalling there is danger nearby then the child becomes dysregulated too. And as a parent we can be triggered by our child having a meltdown, which can turn into a meltdown of our own. This means that we can share our calm (or emotional regulation) with others, but we can also just as easily share our storm (or emotional dysregulation) or be moved into storm mode by someone we care about bringing their storm to us.

When my kids were younger and I was getting all of us out the door, to childcare for the kids and the office for me, it took me a while to work out that the mornings it all went pear shaped were also the mornings that I was dysregulated. The mornings that I was prepared and calm things went more to plan with the kids, and getting them through their routines was much easier. It was a lightbulb moment for me, and though it didn’t stop altogether the mornings where we would all end up in a storm, it did reduce them, and I also had more times when I could pull myself back from the edge of sharing my storm.

How can you only share your calm?


Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question really, because the short answer is, you can’t; everyone shares their storm at one time or another. A better question is how can you stop yourself from sharing your storm most of the time? And particularly with your children.

The easiest way to not share your storm (or dysregulation) is to be calm. But how do you be calm or maintain that calm in the face of someone else’s storm? Some strategies I share with my coachees to be calm and remain calm include using micro-moments to decompress. We don’t all have time to put aside a half-hour here and there to undertake self-care activities like a relaxing bath. So I coach my clients to use the 5 minutes here and there that happen. To do that they need to have something they can do in a short time frame when the moment presents itself, such as a game on their phone or allow themselves to daydream. Another strategy I share is to have an action plan prepared when they are calm, for what they will do in the moment when they either share their storm or start to take on someone else’s storm – what will they do as a circuit braker? 

What to do after a storm is shared?


So you’ve been human and shared a storm, what do you do now? If you do lose your cool and share your storm or join someone else’s storm, and let’s face it we all have, the most important thing to do is to reset and repair. It is this process of reset and repair that will make the lasting difference to the relationship you have with that person.

It is important to know how to reset and repair. What helps you reset or move from a storm back towards being calm? Do you need to be alone, to be outside, to do exercise? Once you’ve reset you then need to repair. BUT you need to make sure the other person has also had a chance to reset, and this can take longer than you think. There’s no need to rush into the repair phase, give everyone time and space, and then share how the interaction was for you, what you’d like to happen now, and what you’ll do to try and avoid sharing a storm again. Importantly, if possible, you need to let the other person go first, and ensure they feel heard before you share your thoughts. That way you’re less likely to end up back in a storm again.

What are your strategies to help maintain your calm? How do you reset and repair? 

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Please note all information and strategies shared as part of the blog are for information and educational purposes only and do not constitute advice for any particular individual or circumstances.