Take a moment to reflect on how you have managed your emotions throughout your life… How do you react when you are in a heated argument? What about when you are delivered with great news? What do you do when you have a bad or hard day at work? How do your big emotions impact your relationships? How do you respond to your partner or loved ones when they come to you with big emotions? All of these questions can help you bring awareness to how you regulate your emotions and co-regulate with those around you.
Co-regulation is defined as the "continuous unfolding of individual action that is susceptible to being continuously modified by the continuously changing actions of the partner."
Humans are incredibly reliant upon one another to co-regulate, and emotional regulation is a skill that we can always learn and improve on because regulating emotions can be challenging. From the time we are children, we learned how to work through and regulate our emotions based on what our caregivers demonstrated. As we mature, we bring those same coping mechanisms into our relationships. Then, as we become parents, we teach our children how to regulate their emotions based on how we manage our own.
Meet Where You're At
For most, emotional patterns and coping skills are developed in early childhood through adolescence. Our circumstances and caregivers play a huge role in how we develop our thought patterns and coping skills. These thought patterns and coping skills are the cornerstones of our attachment styles and relationships and can be challenging to redefine. Understanding that cultivating change in how we regulate ourselves and co-regulate in our relationships can help foster healthy new strategies.
How to Effectively Co-Regulate
Develop healthy self-regulation strategies
Cultivate physiological calmness through breathing exercises or a stress ball
Change your thoughts: help your partner choose which thoughts get their attention.
Be patient and understanding.