I get frustrated
Something that I find frustrating - though understandable - is when people wait for things to be at their worst and then demand to know what to do about it.
The parent that has their kid hitting them while swearing and screaming in their face and breaking things in the house. They wait until this moment to demand, "So what do I do now?!"
Or the teachers I work with that are wrangling a classroom full of dysregulated kids that are spitting spitwads across the classroom at each other. (Not really, the spitwads of today are fake Instagram accounts to bully someone else.) The teachers demands, "What am I supposed to do now?!"
Again, I understand. These aren't bad questions. I'm glad the parent and the teacher want to know. And I'm glad my clients are seeking to learn how to handle their panic attack better the next time.
But the real work needs to be done before the crisis.
Please please please don't wait
When it comes to unstucking, to getting actual relief from your stuck Polyvagal defensive state, please don't wait until you're in a crisis moment.
To get relief from your trauma, you don't need to delve into the pain. Into the stuck state. You can get noticeable relief from anchoring in safety and building the strength of your vagal brake.
To get further relief; to truly get unstuck more and more, then yes, you will need to delve into the stuck state. Into its emotions, thoughts, sensations and impulses.
So it kinda needs to happen, I just don't want you to wait until you're deep in a crisis.
You shouldn't be at the point of desperation and then ask, "Well, how do I feel my feelings?!" That wouldn't be the time. That's the time to do some crisis management - coping or grounding stuff. Not deep Stucknaut exploration into the defensive state you're in.
Instead, you need to be Stucknauting when you're capable of doing so.
By now, you should have a good amount of distress tolerance. Your vagal brake should be strong enough to withstand the intensity of a stuck state emerging. If not, then you're probably not ready for this next step of directly working on your stuck state.
This is when to start
Start Stucknauting when you're grounded in your safety state and curious. Start when you're open to what you might learn from your inner world. Start when you're able to tolerate the defensive state that is going to emerge.
You'll be able to gauge your readiness to start by using simple self-assessments. Like a 0-5 scale, something I do with my therapy clients. You should know what a safety level of 5/5 feels like versus 0/5 for yourself.
If so, then you can gauge your level of safety. If you know that you're anchored well enough at a 3/5, then you're ready to start more directly experiencing your stuck defensive state.
If you're ready to start working directly on your trauma, then Unstucking Defensive States is for you. If you need to work on your safety state and distress tolerance first, then Building Safety Anchors is the way to go.