The issue messing up your relationship isn’t that your partner doesn’t listen, that you’re a workaholic or because you and your partner don’t communicate well. None of these are the REAL problem. The problem is neither you nor your partner are self-regulating. I’ll explain self-regulation but first I need to explain your nervous system in order to get into the self-regulation.
We all have a nervous system, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which is then broken down between the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). What is most important to understand is we are in SNS when we are anxious, upset, sad, depressed, frustrated and so on. It is when we are in a threat response. The PNS is experienced when we are calm and comfortable in our bodies.
Interestingly, we cannot be comfortable in our bodies and anxious at the same time. Nor can we be in any type of threat response while being comfortable in our bodies.
Now let’s look at self-regulation, an important point to understand is that self-regulation is relaxation, but relaxation is not self-regulation. Self-regulation is when we are able to identify that in the moment, we are experiencing a threat response and making an effort to get out of it. Relaxation is leaving the moment to go and practice Yoga, tapping or any other activity to manage the feeling of being stressed. There are many ways to practice self-regulation, to begin, take ten seconds and with your eyes open, looking forward scan from the top of your head to your feet. The goal is to notice any tight muscles in your body, when you notice these, relax your muscles. After ten seconds and you complete your body scan, take a deep breath and notice what you notice. Go ahead and give it a try.
I encourage you to do this daily multiple times. Why? Because in 5-6 minutes, I will encourage you to repeat the body scan. Why? Because those muscles you allowed to relax, will tighten back up. Why? Because we as human beings cannot unlearn past experiences. This means any time in the past we have felt picked on, nervous, put down, experienced a threat response in the past has been learned. Therefore, your muscles will tighten up again. The good news is the more you practice self-regulation, the more often you will be in a comfortable body.
The more you’re in a comfortable body, the more relaxed you will be and the better you will be in your relationships. If we are not experiencing a threat response, we tend to approach situations in a calmer manner, we think better, we function better. Therefore, your practice of self-regulation is very important for a healthy relationship. If you have questions email me at Brian@themarriagedoc.com.