Stay connected

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.


I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.

Join us on Facebook

Supporting the People Pleaser : Finding Calm During the Holidays

couple in Christmas lights

This time of year is pressure-filled and brings up old wounds. The holidays involve a lot of detail-minding and extra effort. Entertaining, holiday cards, gift buying, baking, decorating, party attending, putting up lights, traveling and making sure everyone is happy, take a lot of energy. All three of my children have birthdays during the holiday season as well. Because I live in Minnesota, there is often snow shoveling to do too.

There are days in December I want to curl up into a ball and hibernate.

Why do I do it? Because I get a personal note from a 98-year-old relative every year thanking me for the wonderful family letter I include with the holiday cards. Because my kids get excited for the holidays and the traditions we have in place. Because I can’t figure out how to stop doing it, without feeling

One year I had help from a partner. It was heavenly. My kids have begun to provide assistance in small ways. I appreciate that. I vent to my closest friends about my feelings of overwhelm. They empathize. I feel better, for a while.

Strong people take care of things

But over the years, starting when I was a child, I learned not to burden others with my needs or feelings. Other people are busy with their own to do lists. Strong people don’t need comforting. Strong people take care of things on their own.

Permission to let someone else help you 

In Love and War in Intimate Relationships, Dr. Stan Tatkin and Dr. Marion Solomon stress the importance of interactive regulation. Interactive regulation is the process whereby at least two individuals co-manage and balance nervous system arousal in real-time.

A key point of Love and War is that we are in the care of our primary intimate partner. Our focal duty is to soothe and comfort each other. Often as adults we put out fires for our co-workers, resolve problems for our children, care for our aging parents, make sure our house is in order, etc. We put our partner and/or ourselves at the bottom of the care list.

When you can’t ask for help

feet-in-the-tree-lightsResponses learned in childhood (due to a caregiver’s lack of attentiveness) and efforts to spare our partner added grief, often cause us to self-soothe or auto-regulate. If there is no spouse or partner, auto-regulation is even more likely.

When I don’t have a partner who comforts me and makes me feel secure, auto-regulation becomes my norm. I calm my nervous system by giving myself space and time away from the demands of others. When I don’t have this time away, I get overwhelmed and disregulated.

When you receive help

There have been periods in my life when a partner and I interactively regulated each other (although we had no idea we were doing that). We quieted each other’s anxieties. We were a team. Those were times of wonderful inner and outer peace.

According to Tatkin and Solomon, interactive regulation and attunement  (a feeling of being on the same page, in alignment or in synchrony), produce a sense of safety and security as well as attraction. Both processes require a couple to be predictable and friendly on a micromoment basis. A micromoment is the subcortical speed at which people appraise and respond to social situations — roughly 30-300 milliseconds. Any perceived injuries or misattunement should be repaired quickly because they are perceived quickly.

Dr. Tatkin gives an example of a young couple and their struggle to regulate each other while taking care of their children. The wife often had a hard time getting their four-year-old dressed in the morning. The child fought against the mother until the mother ended up yelling at the child. The yelling, heard as a distress signal by the husband, caused him to charge into the room and swiftly yell at and discipline the child. This action disempowered the wife and did not change the behavior in the child. The next day the same scene took place. Dr. Tatkin suggested the husband calmly enter the room, kiss his wife on the head or rest his hand on her shoulder and ask if there is anything he can do to help her. These gestures would soothe the wife’s nerves and most likely help the child feel secure too. Tatkin calls this ‘regulating the regulator’. This kind of interaction puts your partner and your relationship first. It makes your partner feel secure and cared for.

Healing old wounds

Interactive regulation involves learning each other’s old wounds and working to heal them. It requires closeness and keen observation of facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc. It requires deep listening with intent to understand and comfort in the way your partner needs. It requires appreciation, respect and admission of vulnerability.

One of my old wounds is not feeling I can count on the support of a loved one. Any sign someone is not consistently reliable with their words and actions, puts my nervous system on alert.

The holidays are a time when I feel that wound. I feel alone in my tasks and sometimes even in the celebrations. My extended family lives far away. The interdependence of a partnership has been rare. It’s not my children’s place to provide emotional support.

My friends fill in as family and support, which I greatly appreciate. The inclusion of a church community this year has also eased my dis-ease. Knowing there is somewhere I am consistently embraced and included, gives me  energy to support others.

As the holiday season kicks off this week with Thanksgiving, I am extremely grateful for the good people in my life who interactively regulate with me. I look forward to getting better at caring for others while being cared for.hands-full-of-lights

Do you ever feel like you’re doing everything alone? Is self-soothing your default method of emotional regulation? How could someone comfort you? 






About the Author:

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: