“Trauma is not what happens to us. But what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness.”
Peter Levine, “In An Unspoken Voice:
How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness”
As I have been pondering and feeling into my intentions and wishes for the new year, I keep returning to this quote from Peter Levine. I wonder, how many of us are carrying inside overwhelming events from 2021 and before that have not yet been held and processed in the presence of an empathetic witness?
My wish as we enter 2022 is that we can give each other the gift of co-regulation and empathetic witnessing to heal what we may have been assuming we had to carry alone in isolation.
If you’ve never heard of co-regulation it’s a term I learned this year from a course on trauma and healing through The Embody Lab. Co-regulation means that we as humans are wired to co-regulate our nervous systems with other humans. Co-regulation starts when infants are tuning in with their mothers or caregivers to find resonance, connection, and safety.
An incredible gift of co-regulation can be that when one person is grounded in their own stable nervous system, another person with a dysregulated nervous system can more easily connect with and draft off of the stable nervous system on a path back to regulation within themselves.
Even in the midst of challenging and uncertain conditions around us, we can learn to help each other co-regulate. When each of us does our own inner work and also receives empathetic witnessing, we can heal from the overwhelm that has otherwise kept us feeling isolated and disconnected.
As we enter 2022, I wish that you can both give and receive the gift of empathic witnessing and co-regulation. One nervous system at a time, we can create a world that learns how to heal from within and in connection with each other.