You have an understanding of what regulation is, and a sense of how to begin bringing yourself back to center when you're feeling emotionally off-kilter. But now what? How do you know when you are dysregulated, and begin to use some of this in your daily life?
While there are some universal internal cues, we all have unique responses to feeling emotionally under or overwhelmed. Knowing what responses are these are allows us to take steps to bring ourselves back into balance.
You might ask yourself how you know when you're dysregulated.
We often notice thoughts racing, jumping around everywhere, with fast, maybe obsessive thoughts about the past or the future, or that we are unable to hold a thought in our mind, or really think about anything at all. Physically, you might notice your heart beating particularly fast or slow. It might be harder to breathe deeply. This may be accompanied by a tightness in your chest or some sensation in your belly. It may be hard to feel anything at all in your body; as though your head is floating above the rest of your body.
And then, notice what it feels like when you're emotions are regulated.
Our observation skills become more accurate, perceptive, and well-honed. We are able remain in the present moment, to see what is happening around us and respond without a mental association that takes us out of the present moment. If something unexpected happens, we can register a feeling of surprise, and then recalibrate inside to adjust our plans and expectations accordingly. Thoughts and feelings come and go, and our physical sensations are available for us to experience. Pulse and heart rate are steady and strong, and our breath feels smooth and even.
Becoming aware of your unique signs of regulation and dysregulation will help you notice patterns in yourself. You'll discover that there are situations that seem to consistently challenge your ability to stay regulated. Bringing specific and intentional focus to your internal experience during these situations will allow you to learn to respond in balanced, centered ways that promote honesty, integrity, and self-preservation.