Go Away, I Need You – Connection, Complexity and Overwhelm

When we are overwhelmed, connection and social engagement can be really helpful. 

However, connecting can also feel like one more complicated thing to navigate, one more overwhelming set of demands. Attachment trauma, in particular, complicates any choice to connect, especially when we are close to feeling overwhelmed or helpless. Were you ever overwhelmed as a child and left alone with it? Was asking for help ever more trouble than it was worth? Were you saddled with the overwhelming complexity of managing an emotionally immature parent?

When support is needed, and yet also difficult, clients often sink into freeze states. This freeze in the nervous system can spiral deeper with self-blame and with shame about being lonely or not knowing what to do. When clients go freezy, new choices and actions are close to impossible. Analysis paralysis is common.

Clients can get stuck trying to make decisions: Thinking through this stuck place logically often goes into endless looping. Clients can get stuck around taking action to reach out: It does not seem worth it, too complicated.

Tracking our Appetite for Connection

We can help our clients feel their way through these stuck places, starting in relational space, with us. Tracking our appetite for connection gives us an embodied place to start. It is an essential embodiment skill.  Many Body Up Co-Regulation practices can help us explore our appetite for connection and wire in a habit of reaching out when it feels safe enough. The practices also help folks learn to be in relational space in a way that is nourishing rather than draining. 

The following BCR practices help clients learn to track their appetite for connection. Be sure you support folks to notice the body up signals that tell them when they do and do not want to connect. Below, I give some specific directions about using the practice with the intention* to Track Your Appetite for Connection

Back Stack –  This practice centers on our choice to connect  demo video here

Dropping towards the floor gives us temporary permission to tune out our social partners. The invitation is to wait for our own rhythm, trusting our partner to be cheerfully present and available when we are ready. This is a simple way to track our habits and self-talk about connection.

LEADER – In this practice, focus on two moments and a general question. 

1- How do you know when you are ready to come up and make eye contact?

2- What is it like to come up and meet kind, welcoming eyes when you are ready?

What is it like to know that kind eyes will be waiting for you whenever you decide to come up?

Sitz Bones Rock – Simple, gentle  demo video here

LEADER – Let the invitation be to find your own rhythm and focus inward or outward as much as you like. Be curious about when you open and close your eyes, and why? (E.g. is it a desire to connect? Is it about “doing it right”? Is it about safety? Is it about caretaking?) How do you know when you find a rhythm you like?

Prayer Push – More complex, can be vigorous, uses boundary muscles  demo video here

LEADER – Focus on what it is like to find your own rhythm.  Try it fast. Does vigorous connection appeal to you, more like sports or active play? Try it slow, more like a long hug or cuddling up for a story. Does that rhythm appeal to you in general, or when you are overwhelmed, or from time to time?

What does it feel like to take up space while in relationship?

Tips for BCR Roles as You Track Your Appetite for Connection  All demo videos here

The Leader Role –  Track your eye contact patterns and how it feels to have your eyes open or closed. How do you know when you want or do not want connection? Practitioners: Remind clients to ask for the type of mirroring or witnessing they want.

The Mirror Role – What do you notice about your appetite for connection, even as you keep your eyes open? Can you do the 90/10 split of attention (90% for yourself and 10% for your partner)? What if you do not have to accommodate your co-regulation partner? Just practice being solidly present in yourself. What if simply being yourself in the moment while they Lead BCR is enough?

You can also do any of these practices to explore your appetite for connection. Here are some notes for directing your intention:

Hands Show – A simple structure to explore eye contact and appetite for connection. 

Sitting with Self and Other – You may choose to narrate what you notice about your appetite for connection.

My Safe Bubble – How do the palm positions facing in and out feel?

Breath Wings – Slow is best for exploring your appetite for connection.

Turn Away and Come Back – This can take people deep into their attachment issues.

Pinky Paws – This requires a bit more focus on coordination. Good for clients who need more engaging structure.

Heart Circles – More sensitive folk often like this.s, and it can feel more emotionally intimate than some other practices. 

Proud Duck – Great for exploring your appetite for connection when you are revved up.

Body Up Co-Regulation practices offer safe ways for clients to explore their appetite for connection and act on it. This can give folks real choice where in the past, they have tended to freeze.  We can all choose to honor our nervous systems by being alone when we need that. We can wire in the habit of reaching out when it is worth it. We can learn to relate in a way that is nourishing rather than draining.

 *  *   *   *   *

Please remember that as a practitioner, your capacity for embodiment in relational space is key in this work, as is your degree of experience with BCR. Please practice BCR yourself, with your peers, and be very familiar with a practice before offering it to clients. Read on here (link) for info on our BCR Certification Programs for Therapists. 

* “Clear intention around regulation and skill-building is useful. When you are about to begin a co-regulation exercise, set yourself an intention that works for you. It will focus and deepen your experience.”  – Excerpted from The Co-Regulation Revolution by Beth Dennison


Scroll to Top