Any new contact with others in the herd is exciting for my nervous system. It is naturally in the allert mode at such times. It is then important for me to confirm as quickly as possible that it is safe; I must regulate myself with the other person. Co-regulation. We have rituals for that. Social manners. Meant to make us mutually feel safe with each other again.

Shaking hands is one example. We get close to each other and touch briefly. It shows vertrowuen that there is no attack, it confirms equality.

Verbally greeting me lets me hear your voice and all the emotions locked in it. The brief often formally meaningless“How are you?” to which no response is required other than positive affirmation.

We also make contact more easily if there is a dog or small children around to give our attention. Or even when I have flowers with me there is reason to make contact. Apparently that feels safer.

In every contact, my nervous system looks for signals that confirm it is safe.

And if co-regulation doesn’t work because I don’t get confirmation then my system will therefore have to regulate in some other way. That’s how I got some kind of hold with a drink or cigarette during a business meeting. Being in a group triggered me and my addiction helped me regulate in that sitiuation. In most cases, I will dissociate if I cannot regulate naturally. We engage in a conversation about something neutral, the weather for example, to still attempt regualite. And if it works and I feel safer then I relax in the company of the other person and I can be more in the moment. Can we discuss topics that are closer, opinions, feelings, vulnerabilities. Can I also often listen better and show interest in the other person.

addictive rituals, conformism to norms and values, connecting to material, design
(Erich fromm as a starting point for regulation)