What does it mean to have or not have self regulation for daughers of alcoholics? In this blog post I’m going explore self regulation as it was something that came up recently and I didn’t know a lot about it. So I thought I’d do some digging to see how it relates to daughters of alcoholics.
What is self regulation?
Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that are acceptable and produce positive results such as well-being, loving relationships, and learning.
It is how we deal with stressors and as such, lays the foundation for all other activity. Developing this ability requires self-awareness, emotional intelligence, efficient filtering of sensory stimulation, coping effectively with stress, relating well to others, and sustaining focus. Your Therapy Source
What affects self-regulation for daughters of alcoholics?
Growing up and living with a parent or parents that drank too much affects lots of different experiences, you may not have felt safe, secure, loved, supported, heard, valued and much more.
You may also not have known and felt confident that your needs would have been met, and if they weren’t met that caused many different issues. e.g. rejection, neglect, loneliness, low self-worth
As a child when you aren’t happy or something isn’t going the way you want, you may get upset, angry or annoyed. With supportive parents that help and teach you, you learn how to “self-soothe”, this means you learn how to comfort yourself in essence. If you didn’t have those healthy conditions, you don’t learn how to do that in a healthy way, and sometimes develop unhealthy ways as an alternative.
That could be acting out, shouting, getting angry, isolating, not eating, eating too much, getting physically aggressive or any number of other things that in some way helped to cope with the emotional pain.
Not knowing how to self-soothe/self-regulate as a child has a direct impact on whether or how you cope with your emotions and feelings as an adult.
Self Regulation for Daughters of Alcoholics
Why is self regulation so relevant for daughters (and sons) of alcoholics? Depending on your situation and environment, you learn how to self-regulate in your early childhood development.
One thing to consider is ideally, when you self-regulate you take the time to consider your feelings, before acting. Living in an environment where things move fast doesn’t give you the opportunity to do that. You don’t have time to consider how you feel or what you need or want, you have to act to keep yourself physically safe. I appreciate this isn’t everyone’s experience, but you get the idea.
How you acted as a child, e.g. hitting out, shouting, behaving in a way which isn’t socially acceptable will cause problems later in life. You can’t go around hitting people for example, and that’s what you learn with self-regulation as you mature.
Remember this is about being able to “manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that are acceptable and produce positive results”. As an adult, if you didn’t learn how to self-regulate as a child, you may struggle to speak up, feel anxious, be consumed with over-thinking, have low self-esteem and confidence and have anger outbursts. These are just some examples.
What can self-regulation give you?
Self-regulation allows you to bounce back from failure and stay calm under pressure. These two abilities will carry you through life, more than other skills.
Acting in accordance with your values
Calm yourself when feeling upset
Cheering yourself up when feeling down
Keeping going even when things are tough
Remaining flexible and adapting to situations
Seeing the good in others
Staying clear about their intentions
Taking control of situations when necessary
Viewing challenges as opportunities
Words from Gabor Mate
Another word for attachment is love. We’re born for love. The purpose of attachment is to drive two human beings together with a purpose of taking care of or being taken care of. Babies cry because they need soothing, they need attention. If they get that soothing, then they’re okay. If they don’t receive any soothing, they trigger their stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
This interferes with their brain development. So when parents don’t pick up their children when they’re crying, it interferes with their brain development. In this society we’re denying people’s needs for healthy development, children have no ability to self-regulate, adults do, and they know to take a few deep breaths to talk themselves down. Children don’t have that ability
Children need the adult brain to help them self-regulate. But if the adult doesn’t have the ability to self-regulate, they’re unable to provide that to their child. Therefore, the self-regulation never develops in the child.” Taken from Gabor Mate’s, Healing Trauma and Addiction training
Learning to self-regulate
There are some common ways to self-regulate, here are some suggestions for you to consider.
Get comfortable with your emotions and feelings – that’ll take work, practice sitting with your feelings and asking yourself “what am I feeling right now”, “Have I felt this before?” Wait for what comes up
Changing your perception – Check out this NLP exercise which I think is great, I cover this in some of my courses, but in essence it’s about getting a different viewpoint, which in turn can change how you’re feeling about a situation/person. The link to the view below explains the technique.
I hope you found this helpful, do let me know if there is a topic you’d like to me write about, happy to have your suggestions!
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If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07732) 403305.
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Daughters of Alcoholics Facebook group, where other daughters of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present. You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present.
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