People in positions of power unintentionally, but automatically set off the fear centers in others. That means, without thought or reason, the fear center reads any authority as power over instead of power with.
So it's important for people like teachers, police officers, direct support providers, and first responders to show up for others in a way that is calm, centered, and aware of our own emotions. Choosing to show up regulated is the cornerstone of our ability to connect and help others experience felt safety - so that together, we can relate and create.
I was once at a training and THE Bruce Perry was there. If you know me, I was late, so the only seats left during the consult was right next to Dr. Perry. It was unbelievable. He was going over Regulate, Relate, Reason and at a break, I leaned over to him and I said, “Um, I'm a little confused. Since regulation is born out of co-regulation, why are you telling people to regulate before they relate? We have to have co-regulation before we can actually regulate.”
And he was so sweet. He said, "Yes absolutely. But if you're the person in the position of power, it's your job to show up regulated. So those kids feel safe enough to co-regulate and relate with you, so that in your classroom everyone has the ability to reason." When we show up regulated, we can help calm the fear centers of the people we're working with and they can co-regulate with us.
This is so important to remember.
Your own regulation is an essential part of the environment you are creating. You're not just setting a tone. As Carol Hudgins-Mitchell would say, “We are the environment.” So, what are some things you do to show up regulated?
📝Maybe take a moment to jot a few of those things down.
And the next time you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious, you can draw from this list of what works for you before you head into that situation where you’re in a position of power so you can be the best support possible for that other person. As Bruce Perry tells us, once we are calm - we can connect.