QUOTES FROM THIS EPISODE
What’s a cue of safety for me could actually be a cue of danger for somebody else based on the context that they went through.
“I need to feel better.” “My autonomic nervous system needs more regulation.”
Safety cues are not an antidote to make defensive feelings go away.
We build safety. We don’t just turn it on.
The process of safety - it’s more than just coping with the present moment - it’s more than just applying a cue of “safety medicine”.
SAFETY CUES RECAP
Safety cues are what provides a neuroception of safety to our ANS
Different for everyone
Individual differences based on hx
But also universal similarities based on evolution
SAFETY CUE OR PROTECTION?
A safety cue will bring you to safety
A protective cue will keep you in defense, but bring a sense of protection
SAFETY CUE DEPENDENCY?
Do we become dependent on safety cues?
A safety cue of another person might be done at their expense
If the dysregulated person is not considerate and manipulates another to feel some safety (not safety though)
What about a safety cue of smelling an orange?
Maybe if that becomes an addiction and basic functioning is a problem
Like if I have to sneak off to sniff an orange during a therapy session
But just using safety cues to self-regulate?
What else would we be doing?
External safety cues for our senses
Or internal safety cues as top-down
The issue for me would be - are we building our self-regulation or not? Are we building our independence or not? Are we building our distress tolerance or not?
We all need safety cues, very normal
“I need to feel better” vs “My ANS needs more regulation.”
“I need to feel better” can turn into addiction, relief-seeking, protection-seeking
Medicine mindset, reliant on experts
“Splash water in my face to make the discomfort go away”
Story follow state - “I need to feel better” can be panicky
“My ANS needs more regulation” has an element of mindfulness, of witnessing the somatic needs, of alignment
It’s an accurate description of what is happening
But this needs safety activated already
Brings us back to the issue of whether or not we’re building self-regulation
PROCESS OF SAFETY vs. SAFETY MEDICINE
Therapy reframe - With our clients, frame it as a process of building the capacity to self-regulate
Not as medicine
Not a pill we take to feel better
This is more than just coping through a moment
Example of panicked teen client where we used nature on screen, breath check-ins, fidgets and present-moment sensations
What works in the moment and what can be taken and practiced on, developed further
Noticing the process of accessing safety
Long process, not all at once
Often missed but noticed later on when processing in therapy
Teaching vs. developing vs. experiencing
Teach in session, experience in session, homework to develop
Building Safety Anchors incorporates these elements into it
Guidance, practice, homework, reflection, mindful noticing and experiencing
Building Safety Anchors -https://www.justinlmft.com/bsa
Polyvagal 101 Class - https://www.justinlmft.com/PVT101
Intro/Outro music & Transition Sounds by Benjo Beats - https://soundcloud.com/benjobeats
National Suicide Prevention Hotline - 1 (800) 273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline -1 (800) 799-7233
LGBT Trevor Project Lifeline - 1 (866) 488-7386
National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1 (800) 656-4673
Crisis Text Line - Text “HOME” to 741741
Call 911 for emergency
This and other content produced by Justin Sunseri (“JustinLMFT”) (i.e; podcast, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) is not therapy, not intended to be therapy or be a replacement for therapy. Nothing in this creates or indicates a therapeutic relationship. Please consult with your therapist or seek for one in your area if you are experiencing mental health sx. Nothing should be construed to be specific life advice; it is for educational and entertainment purposes only.