The term titration comes from chemistry.
When you have 2 substances that you want to create a new compound with, most often a salt, they may create an explosion when put together all at once. So what chemists do is to mix only a drop together at a time. So instead of an explosion, there is just a small fizz, then a settling- allowing for another drop. Eventually, with many small fizzes, you get a crystalized salt.
In resolving trauma, or even just specific emotions that we have historically been uncomfortable with, it’s important to titrate. We might not have the capacity to handle looking at and/or feeling something- a memory, an emotion, a sensation- all at once. The mantra I was given by my SE™ teacher is “too much, too fast, too deep.” I’ve found it’s an important life lesson.
When we do go too far for our system in the moment, we can become overwhelmed.
A system in overwhelm can look different for different people. It can mean we do or say things we would never normally do and may regret. Or we could shut down into some version or freeze or dissociation. Regardless of what it looks like for you, what’s important in this work of resolving trauma and other, less defined patterns, is that becoming overwhelmed won’t do any good. And it could harm.
So, titration. It means a little at a time.
But what does that look like?!?
My understanding of the answer to that question deepens and expands every time I learn even the smallest thing about this work.
In effect, it means working with *only* the amount of activation you can handle in that moment.
One of the ways we are taught, right from the beginning, is to slow it all down. This could be in the telling of the story of what happened. Or it could be the movement that your body wants to make. Slowing it (whatever “it” is) down both decreases that “too fast” and gives us a chance to stop before it gets to too much or too deep and allows for the precise words or movements.
Sometimes that means noticing that it’s a thing for you, then changing the topic. Because that thing is so activating, and your current zone of confidence, that it’s enough to work with and complete just that tiny glance.
Along those lines, sometimes it’s possible to picture looking at something too stressful out of the corner of your eye. Looking at it, paying full attention to it is too much and will send you into overwhelm. But if you just notice it sitting there, and not full on, might make it possible to bring up, work with, and complete a manageable amount of activation.
And if having it outside of your specific focus, but close is too much, maybe imagining putting it further away will help. This could be arms-length, with literal pushing motions with your arms and hands. Or it could be away in time, whatever amount of time makes it feel like you can work with it.
What I have been learning is that there are infinite ways to titrate. For each instance of too much too fast too deep, a creative person can find a way to take just a little of that energy or sensation or memory or feeling.
And the end goal is to create that salt. A crystallization of something that was explosive. It takes time, and attention to detail, but in the end, it’s worth offering at every table. My work as a Somatic Experiencing® practitioner-in-training is truly some of the most intuitive and fulfilling work I’ve ever done. If you’re interested in learning more about SE™ check out this link. If you’re interested in working with me, head on over to my work with me page, or email me.
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