ERP 254: How To Understand Co-Regulation And The Importance Of Safety In Relationship

By Posted in - Podcast February 9th, 2021 0 Comments

In today’s episode, I discuss the importance of prioritizing safety in relationship. If we do not feel safe, we will have a very difficult time being open and available for connection and intimacy. 

Dr. Stephen Porges, pioneering researcher and developer of Polyvagal Theory, reminds us that passion without safety leads to conflict and sometime violence, and it is very difficult to sustain long-lasting intimacy if you do not with safe with your significant other. 

Our nervous systems are always evaluating for danger and threats. If we are mobilizing (trying to deal with a threat) through fight or flight, we are not available for intimacy and closeness. Or if we are immobilized (shut down) to a threat, we will not be receptive or have the capacity for bonding and connection. 

Therefore, we need to feel safe in relationship, so that our nervous systems can function in the social engagement system, which allows us to be responsive to intimacy and connection.

Physiologically, we are always co-regulating with the people around us…picking up on cues of safety and/or threats. In relationship, we have the opportunity to reciprocally engage with one another to help regulate, balance and comfort one another.

In relationship, it is common to get off track, but it is essential to know how to get back on track. Listen to the episode to learn more.

(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear explanations, stories, and examples.)

In this episode, Dr. Jessica Higgins discusses: 

  • How romance and long-lasting intimacy require safety. 
  • Passion without safety often results in conflict and sometimes violence. 
  • The importance of safety can be confusing when we have known trauma, chaos, loss and pain within relationship and/or early childhood experiences. 
  • More effort and time will not resolve problematic dynamics. 
  • We need to create safety first, so that our nervous systems can be available for connection and closeness.
  • The three neural circuits in our nervous system.
  • What co-regulation is and how we benefit from it.
  • Ideally, we want to have reciprocal, safe, engaged interactions with the people closest to us.
  • In relationship, we have the opportunity to help regulate and balance each other, which leads to more stability overall. 
  • Recognizing the cues we send and receive in relationship that signal safety, connection. 
  • Through our vocal prosody, facial expressions (eyes, forehead, mouth), breathing and touch, we can convey affection, comfort, reassurance and safety.
  • When planning a date, it can be helpful to incorporate restorative activities that help provide more safety, which in turn supports the nervous system to enter into the social engagement system, so that we can be more open and available for connection and intimacy.



ERP 254: How to Understand Co-regulation in Relationship

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Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication.

Stop the criticism loop, learn new ways to communicate
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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching