Importance of Recognizing Cognitive dysregulation

Dysregulation refers to impaired or reduced ability to manage or modify responses, often to a perceived threat. It is related to how a human would react if the threats were real.

A well-known ones are emotional dysregulation (uncontrollable anger, aggression, crying, shutdown) and physical or somatic dysregulation (high heart rate, dilated pupils, hot in the face, sweaty palms, or the opposite of the above).

But we really have to pay attention to cognitive dysregulation.

This may show up in relationships as unyielding belief to be right, justify harm, stubbornness / not listening / repeating, use of “trump card” words and big technical words to win rather than discuss, apophasis, Rolodex of fixes, vague blames / attack / victimhood, rewriting history, refusing to acknowledge misquoting / misinterpreting, over academicizing, passive aggression, defending privilege (“fragile” reactions), being a silent bystander to harm, spiral, and even refusing to admit they’re in a spiral.

It could also show up as an internal struggle, such as an endless list of worries, binary thinking, negative self-talk, negative assumption of others, catastrophizing, shaming, rigid morals, repressing emotions, or perceiving a threat where there is none.

Now, what I’m trying to do with this post is the opposite of justifying these behaviours or justifying telling people to stop. They would have if they could have. What I want us to consider is have this perspective of compassion and to help them regulate so that the underlying need for these behaviours would be settled.

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