Ready to learn how to effectively self-soothe as an adult? Ok, roll up your sleeves, but first… I have a confession.
I used to self-soothe with food, binge watching, and even my schoolwork and excessive reading. On the surface, as a little girl who was masking her depression very well, I appeared “shy.” I would get commended on being the “good girl” prototype, excelling in school and hiding behind books. I truly didn’t feel comfortable going anywhere without a book, even if I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to read it. It just felt nice to have it there.
And caught up with my my mother’s fight to lose weight, I too became obsessive about my diet and weight. Fighting cravings in a home my parents filled with processed foods and sugary drinks, until I succumbed to the short bursts of pleasure they gave, in an effort to cope in an abusive and dysfunctional home. Disney Channel was my safety blanket, the characters in the shows I watched and books I read counted amongst my short list of friends. It’s taken me all of my 20s to get healthy – physically, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.
And it all started by addressing how I self-soothe. In this post, I’ll be sharing what self-soothing is and how to effectively self-soothe as an adult (in just 3 steps).
What is Self-Soothing?
Self-soothing is the act of regulating our emotions when we’re feeling distressed, emotionally upset, or dysregulated in any way. In other words, it’s how we come back to center. That center being a place of self-connection, aware of our emotions and what they mean, and a state of easy pleasure, being at ease with the world and confident in our ability to navigate our lives. Self-soothing doesn’t mean our “problems” go away. But when done effectively, self-soothing gives us the leverage to make mindful choices that bring us closer to our desires.
Soothing our nervous system when dysregulated means that we don’t act from a place of dysfunction, which rarely brings favorable results. Abraham Hicks has a wonderful way of putting this: “You can’t get there from there.”
You can’t get to the easeful and joyful life you want, if you’re constantly in a state of panic, anxiety, and distress because the choices you make from that vibration often bring more chaos, rather than less. You want to be able to be with your emotions, learn from them, and return to your center so you can navigate any difficulties with greater ease and grace.
And that’s why learning to self-soothe correctly is so important. Poor self-soothing habits cause our problems to compound and multiply. For a brief moment of relief, we get stuck in a cycle of turmoil that never seems to end. The more life feels difficult, the more we try to soothe ourselves with sugar, smoking, overworking, alcohol, obsessive thinking, etc. and the more these behaviors, keep us out of our true power.
But you already know this. And I’m not here to beat up on you, because it’s not your fault ❤️
In order to break free from these poor self-soothing habits, we have to understand their origin and what our bodies are truly craving.
How Poor Self-Soothing Habits Develop in Childhood (and why you should be gentle with little you )
As children, when we have attuned caregivers who are capable of meeting our emotional needs, we learn how to self-soothe in ways that are nourishing and healthy. We learn that our emotional needs can and will be met. But when we experience repeated abuse or neglect, and our needs are left unmet, we learn to reach outside of ourselves for emotional soothing. We learn to resource into substances or behaviors that are often not healthy long-term, in order to dampen the emotional pain we feel. As a result, we don’t learn how to effectively self-soothe.
Your not having healthy and effective self-soothing habits is an invitation to be kind and gentle with yourself. Not harsh and judgmental.
Think of yourself as that little child who was reaching out for comfort, support, and reassurance. You just wanted to return to a place where you felt good. Your instincts were right to reach out to the adults in your life for the emotional support you needed, since your little brain just couldn’t figure it out on your own. Eventually, you’d follow their example and repeat their words of love and assurance to yourself. Eventually, you would’ve learned to give yourself the love and support that your caregivers gave you by mirroring their example. But when you reached out you weren’t met with consistent love and care. It was scary and painful. So you did the brave thing and found ways to feel better elsewhere. That was a really big step and it was the right thing to do for your developing nervous system.
You did nothing wrong.
And now, with the power of a more developed brain, you are able to mitigate the damage and teach yourself healthy self-soothing techniques.
This is major, friend. This is MASSIVE. And I’m soooo freaking proud of you. You’ve done nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you. And you’re taking all the right steps. You’re a fucking rockstar.
How to Effectively Self-Soothe as an Adult in 3 Steps
Now, learning how to self-soothe as an adult can be difficult and a bit intimidating. I am one of those adults who had to learn in adulthood and it indeed takes patience, courage, and consistently showing up, and loving ourselves along the way. Before you dive into these 3 steps, I want you to acknowledge and own: You’re not going to be perfect at it immediately. You will still resource into food, alcohol, overworking, whatever it is you do currently, until you learn how to hold yourself with greater tenderness. This is just like building any other skill in life.
The key to becoming successful at self-soothing is learning how to face our emotions with compassion and curiosity. Which you can do. I believe in you. You will get really really good at this. Trust me.
Effective self-soothing should leave you:
- feeling good
- feeling clear
- feeling empowered to take any necessary next steps
Here are 3 steps to take the next time you are feeling dysregulated and in need of some self-soothing to get back to center:
1. Pause and acknowledge that you feel dysregulated.
First, as soon as you recognize it, pause and acknowledge that you feel dysregulated. Notice that you’re experiencing some kind of emotional intensity. You’re upset. You have strong emotions going on. Just acknowledge: Ok, step 1. I am aware that I’m dysregulated and I need to self-soothe.
(A good metric for this is what I like to call “pleasure biofeedback.” I’ll be releasing an article on this in the near future, so get on the email list to get notified.)
2. Make space for self-inquiry to investigate your emotions and needs.
Next, it’s time to connect with your emotions in a concrete way through self-inquiry. Now, self-inquiry is an art and a tool that is used in coaching and many therapy methodologies. Here’s a few shortcut questions you can ask yourself:
- What am I actually feeling right now? (Sometimes when we’re processing our emotions in the mind and not actually feeling them we confuse and muddy feelings like anger with shame. Take a second to actually feel and identify the feeling correctly.)
- What is this feeling trying to tell me? What does it want (from the world, this person in my life, from me)?
- What need is not being met? What do I really want and need right now?
You’ll get so good at this that you’ll be able to do this self-inquiry the very moment you start feeling dysregulated. But chances are, right now, you will need to pause and step away from the situation that is causing the upset, so you can give yourself enough space to do the self-inquiry.
If that’s the case, here are a few things that you can do to pause and give yourself the space to reconnect with your body and feel into what’s happening:
Quick List of Self-Soothing Techniques
- Go for a walk outside
- Do 5 minutes of yoga
- Take a bath (warm or cold)
- Visualize somewhere relaxing
- Drink a warm cup of tea
- Positive self-talk
- Soothing self-touch
- Comb your fingers through your hair
- Interact with plants or pets
- Look at the tree tops or the sky
- Laugh and watch/think about something funny
- Dance it out
So, try any one of these. I like to incorporate them all based on my mood and also what’s accessible to me in the moment. (My favorite is going for a walk 🥰)
Then, once you have the mental space, return to the self-inquiry and investigate what is coming up for you.
3. Meet your unmet emotional need.
Finally, it’s time to meet that need. Once you’ve identified what it is that you’re needing, you can soothe yourself further by giving yourself what it is that you need directly. Even if someone else or an entity was involved in the initial upset, you are capable of resourcing whatever you’re needing within yourself. And it’s vital that you do this first.
It doesn’t mean that you won’t later request it from a partner or job or whatever was involved, but meeting your need internally first means that you’re more likely to have it reciprocated in your outside world. (Curious about this? We dive deep into healing and how it connects to your manifesting powers in PUSSY ACADEMY. Join us, we get down 😉)
So, whether your unmet emotional need was love, time, patience, some understanding, a little validation, a sense of abundance and support… whatever it is, learn how to give it to yourself. Which is what I help women do through somatic practices and sacred rituals in PUSSY ACADEMY.
The vagina is rich with nerve endings and pleasure hot spots that, when turned on, can produce deep, emotional, and liberating orgasms. You just have to know how to retrain that pussy. I can help with that.
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Well, friends. This is how you effectively self-soothe as an adult. Like I said, it’s taken me years to get this right, but once you break in down into these 3 easy steps, it becomes formulaic, manageable, and eventually second-nature.
I’d say the hardest part about self-soothing is learning how to detect when your nervous system is dysregulated in the first place and also learning how to approach truly painful, long-held emotions like resentment, shame, and fear. I developed this skill by getting coaching support to heal, deepening my meditation practice, and reconnecting with my body and pussy. It’s the only way you’re going to effectively and consistently receive your body’s pleasure biofeedback. Cultivating self-connection is paramount.
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And wherever you go from here, remember to be kind and gentle with yourself. You’re a fucking rockstar.
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Did you find these techniques to self-regulate and self-soothe as an adult helpful? Comment below and share which one of these tips you’ll be trying next time you feel dysregulated!