Compulsive sexual behavior can be the cause and the effect of a dysregulated nervous system, but what do you do to regulate yourself more efficiently? In order for balance and regulation to become a familiar internal state, you’ll need to integrate a self-regulation or co-regulation practice into your daily lifestyle. This can only occur, though, when you’ve learned to recognize when you feel either regulated or dysregulated which may necessitate help from a somatic therapist. The therapeutic goal is to have access to the resourceful, resilient part of you and to return there more seamlessly.
Self-regulation utilizes resources like meditation, breathing and self-compassion. Co-regulation calls forth emotionally-dependable loved ones (including pets) — those you fully trust. You might think of mutual or co-regulation as one nervous system offering comfort and support to another nervous system.
Because we live in a world full of addictive, compulsive temptations, it’s a constant challenge to build somatic awareness and to be mindful of what’s really going on inside you. Hint: In a regulated state, you experience deeper contact with yourself and others, whereas dysregulation causes isolation and disconnection.
Gratitude and Resourcing. As mentioned in Part One of this post, by focusing your attention on pleasurable, life-affirming activities, you have the agency to regulate your nervous system. You may already take stock of the gratitude in your life, but think of resourcing as an amplified version of a gratitude list.
So, at any given time, you have a few options related to your brain-body connection:
- Stay on autopilot and ignore the cues your nervous system gives you.
- Remain dysregulated in moments of distress and take a passive approach to feeling better.
- Get to know your nervous system and live a more buoyant, resilient life.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve ignored your body’s cues, it’s possible to carve out new neural pathways from now on. Having your nervous system chronically activated, or triggered, is often due to relational patterns, stories of the past, and old buttons in need of repair. Both talk therapy and somatic therapy can be reparative modalities.
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I felt like a talking head — disconnected from my body — and I still find it challenging to find my way back to a regulated state at times. Be patient with yourself knowing that your nervous system has lots of information if you listen to it and you have the rest of your life to restore its innate wisdom.