Regulate, Reason, Reassure is a coping skills program by Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout. You can learn more about the parent’s version here. Regulate, Reason, Reassure follows the principle that you should help get your sensory system to baseline, then reason (figure out why sounds happen etc) then reassure (for example: a partner saying everything is going to be okay—or a journal etc). Personally, I have been using Reason in my own life in ways that I am surprised were so helpful. The following is Dr. Brout’s explanation of Reasoning from her manual:
Reasoning takes many forms, both in the moment and over time. Reasoning helps your child build an awareness of misophonia triggers as well as the neurophysiological, cognitive, and emotional mechanisms of misophonia. Reasoning also helps your child to build a toolbox to cope with triggers and triggering situations, develop and maintain self-esteem and social relationships, and enjoy the world
– Regulate Reason Reassure
One of my worst triggers is lawn-mowers. In-fact, it’s so bad, that I ended up having a minor mental breakdown and moving away from the country where people would mow their lawns for 5 hours a day, multiple days a week. To say it was a hellish torture is putting it mildly, but I digress.
I have always adapted to lawn mowers by wearing noise-cancelling headphones when it happens. Still, rumination was ruining my days (when would the next lawnmower come? why do they mow so much?). Right now I live in an army house called a Personal Military Quarters (PMQ), they’re basically the world’s most aggressive home owners association. We can get in actual trouble if we don’t mow the grass. In some cases, that’s helpful because triggers (lawnmowers) are no longer just people mowing for the hell of it. There are actual consequences if they don’t mow. But, the other level of this is that the housing association uses big tractors and mows once a week for an entire day—this became my most recurring trigger, and I lived in fear of it for a while.
The irony of this entire situation is that my father repairs and sells lawnmowers. But anyways…
I began to realize a few things about myself. The first was I am less triggered by lawnmowers if I am closer to them. The second was that if I mow the lawn I’m obviously less bothered (not at all actually) than if my partner mows our lawn. This led to more and more lawn activities. Our lawn was a horrific mud-pit, so I started to work on growing the grass this spring.
For anybody wondering the process:
Since transforming my lawn, growing it, and maintaining it, I have realized that I am having less trouble going back to baseline. I am still triggered by the sound of lawnmowers, but I no longer spend my days ruminating over the sound. I am ready to put on my Bose headphones and I no longer consider the mowing to be a direct assault or something that is unreasonable or unnecessary. I’d often find myself googling things like “people mow too much,” “mowing is rude,” or “lawnmowers are bad for the environment,” in order to confirm my rumination bias. This did NOT help!
By making my lawn something I value and care about, I’ve helped to change my perspective on lawnmowers. Interestingly, since my father is a small engine mechanic and sells/repairs lawnmowers, they also paid for a lot of my upbringing and have been an important part of my life. This recognition was helpful when reasoning and reassuring myself that lawnmowers are not out there to get me.
While I still don’t love the sound of lawnmowers, I am now able to react quickly by putting on headphones, take a deep breath, and not let the thought of future lawnmowers ruin the rest of my day (or week). This process has helped me be self-aware and get more control over my life. While I still have triggers, at least they aren’t controlling me!Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.