I really think this is like the secret to life.
Most of this is based on the work of Dr. Laurence Heller who wrote a badass book called:
Healing Developmental Trauma: How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship
Basically… Because of developmental trauma, a lot of us are walking around unable to take care of ourselves. When we were little, we needed to rely on others to get our needs met. If the environment was unable to meet our needs, we compensated for it by limiting the embodiment and expression of our truth to preserve the attachment relationship.
Like… I wanted to be hugged. So I cried. Then no one came. So I protested. Then I got angry. Boom. Sympathetic nervous system response. No one came. So I got quiet. I shut down and numbed out and disassociated from my body, because continuing to be angry and scream may have jeopardized the primary attachment figure relationship… Which, to an infant that cannot survive on its own, codes as deadly.
The energy was just stored in the body. And it interrupted the free flow of life force.
So now, as an adult, I can logically take care of myself. But when someone doesn’t text me back for a while… Or when someone I care about gets angry with me… Or when I get anxious or angry and I’m not sure why… It feels a bit out of control.
It feels like I need someone else’s help to regulate myself. My central nervous system and emotional state. But I don’t. It’s nice if I have someone who loves me and would help soothe me… but it’s like making breakfast. It’s nice when someone does it for me. But if I can’t do it for myself, I’ll starve.
And that’s where many of us are right now. Literally starving or overwhelmed emotionally because we never learned how to self-regulate our emotional state and central nervous system.
Turns out it’s pretty easy. Well, not easy – but simple. Annie Lalla outlines two practices in that podcast I referenced:
DEEP BREATHING + ENERGY CYCLING
Deep breathing is just like it sounds, with a small twist. I like to do a modified 5×5 breath. 5 second inhale, hold for 5 seconds, 10 second exhale, hold for 5 seconds exhaled, repeat.
I actually count by saying “I love myself” 3 times (and 6 times for exhale).
The energy cycling is similar to tantra or taoist practices. Annie describes it a bit differently (I like to put my own spin on things) but essentially you focus on a point a few inches behind your third eye and a few inches behind your navel (I go a bit lower to where the second chakra would be) and then you move your attention up and down as fast as you need to in order to maintain focus on it.
I like to imagine energy going in the “microcosmic orbit” (got that from Mantak Chia books) basically going up the spine and down the front (or vice versa if we want to mix it up). It helps a lot – being aware of and responsible for my energy. You can also do other things with energy that I learned from Lawrence Lanoff – spiraling it out into the world, spiraling it back into you, projecting, devouring, shielding, inviting – all sorts of good stuff.
But the idea is that deep breathing grounds the energy and cycling the energy keeps it moving so it doesn’t get stuck or stagnant (my explanation, not theirs).
It’s freaking awesome!!!
Literally, this one trick is such an essential part of self care.
As Annie says,
“Being an adult is learning somatic self regulation techniques instead of expecting others to regulate me.” ~Annie Lalla
Everything below this is just rambling that I intend to clean up and organize 😉
So if we follow that thread…
Taking radical responsibility for feeling loved is self care…
What if it’s really just about noticing?
What if Gratitude just means Choosing To Feel Loved? I.e. Noticing Love vs. Noticing Non-Love (Fear)
I’m here to feel loved, no matter what, and that’s the end of the story… And the beginning of the adventure.
I am responsible for me feeling loved. Assume love and see examples everywhere.
What if I playfully interpreted everything as evidence that I am loved?
“Taking radical responsibility for generating the feeling within myself of being loved by the other person.” ~Annie Lalla
If growth is about Feeling Secure and being fully alive…
“Anger is a life-supportive response intended to impact an unsupportive environment.” ~Laurence Heller
If I can’t connect with my own body and emotions, I can’t connect with others
“The price of freedom is eternal mindfulness.” ~Laurence Heller
I am a capable adult and I take good care of myself. I don’t need to fear death or other humans abandoning or overwhelming me. I love myself and care for myself.
I am producing earned secure attachment
It’s all about honoring my needs and getting them met in a good way, in a consensual container with clear boundaries
Sex is part of self care
Focusing on admiring and taking in the beautiful human being in front of me
I desire consistent cuddles, conversation, and sex (1x/week+)
Planting seeds and nurturing them. Gauging feedback. Expectancy without expectations.
I don’t date anxious or avoidant people – I only date secures: can offer reassurance without feeling smothered, can give space and autonomy without feeling abandoned
“Look for a feeling instead of looking for a person. The feeling in their presence of being fully loved, admired, and appreciated for who I am and they take a stand for who I can be, for my greatness.” ~Annie Lalla
“I don’t fall in love with someone. I fall in love with who I am in their presence, when I’m fully accepted and loved while they’re standing for my greatness.” ~Annie Lalla
Look for someone who will be a trampoline for my dreams as well as a refuge and sanctuary.
Train people into loving me the way I desire to be loved
Part of a relationship is educating each other and cross training on each other’s unique geniuses
“I’m angry. I love you more than I’m angry. But I’m really angry and I need to resolve this issue.” ~Annie Lalla
–> Helps other person’s nervous system chill out, because that’s what we didn’t hear growing up when our attachment figures / parents were angry with us