According to the work of Dr. Paul Gilbert, we have three different systems we use to manage our emotions. These systems are different from each other and yet are designed to work together to help regulate emotion; they include different brain regions and chemistry. This post will begin a three part series in which we examine each of the systems in turn.
The Soothing-Contentment System: The main function of this system is to create a system in which we feel the safest. It is the system that allows us to slow down, encourages rest and it is our restorative system where kindness and care are felt. When this system is engaged, we feel overall contentment and connection.
Think of sitting cozy by the fireplace, resting under your favourite tree while capturing the warmth of the sun, being in the arms of someone you love and feel secure with or standing by the ocean, enjoying the sounds of the birds and the slight breeze on your face.
The hormone that is produced when we are in our soothing-contentment system is oxytocin, our “feel good” chemical.
It is important to recognize when we are in our soothing-contentment system, as we are often not in it enough – the busyness of our lives and the stress and anxiety that are present as a result will often push us into the threat and self-protection system; our focus in tomorrow’s post.