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By: Liz Shepherd

Now embarking on my 5th year with The MEHRIT Centre, I have come a long way in my Self-Reg learning. No longer do I see misbehaviour, but instead stress behaviour. No longer do I view the world through a self-control lens. No longer do I see the world in black and white, but the dynamic and colourful system in which we all coexist.

Part of my ongoing Self-Reg Journey has recently seen me dive deeper into the concepts like human nature, rationality and virtue presented in Dr. Stuart Shanker’s most recent book, REFRAMED: Self-Reg for a Just Society. As part of this course, we were asked to share what our 10 Self-Reg Lessons Learned were, although I could have written 100, these 10 have been the most pivotal in understanding myself and others:

  1. Self-control still slips in and you need to keep an eye out for it – When our energy dips, or when navigating new terrain, self-control thinking often reappears even in us Self-Reggers. Keep an eye out for it and challenge yourself to think “why?” and “why now?” instead. 
  2. We all speak limbic – We have to be aware of the extent that we non-verbally communicate with others. But this is also our superpower. Calm begets calm.
  3. Snacking is a sign – Snacking, nail-biting, hair pulling, these are all subtle cues that my energy is dipping and tension is increasing. That is my cue to be a Stressed Detective, to identify and reduce those stressors. 
  4. Soft eyes for all – There are times where we can be so quick to judge, but even those who we think we can never see eye to eye with, we need to have soft eyes for.
  5. Trust your spidey sense – This is Step 4 in action and critically important in everything I do. It is your body’s brilliant way of telling you there is a “threat” or that something is not quite right.
  6. Rational vs rationalising is an important distinction – Rationalising is protective but based on Kahneman’s System 1 kneejerk limbic responses. However, being rational is slow and energy-intensive (System 2) but a truer representation of how I want to view the world. 
  7. You’re not going to get it right every time, and that’s ok – Knowing Self-Reg doesn’t mean we never find ourselves slipping into the lower right of Thayer and snapping at the ones we love, or making decisions based on the path of least resistance rather than the truly right path, but it does mean we can have those soft eyes for ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and do everything we can upstream to stave off these stress behaviours. 
  8. Self-Reg is not just for kids – This one means a lot for me. Sadly, many see teens and adults as being unreachable with Self-Reg and that just isn’t the case. In many ways they are the individuals who need this the most.
  9. Overriding your limbic brakes is not a badge of honour – This is one I’m still learning. I recently wrote in REFRAMED about how I often refuse to take an inch and instead push for the whole mile. That mile, however, is often more than just a mile. There’s a balancing act here that I hope to be mastered on my next list of 10 lessons learned.
  10. My husband learning Self-Reg was the best thing ever – Having a common language and an understanding of the dynamic system we both operate in allows us to explode, dare I say, safely. We are both able to see stress behaviour for what it is and respond in kind.

Self-Reg being a life-long journey, I wonder what my next 10 Lessons Learned in 2030 will be?