“Affect” refers to your moment by moment experience of your internal bodily sensations. Think of affect on a scale of 1-10, where 1 represents completely numb and shut down and 10 represents panic, rage, or terror. On this scale, 5-6 represents a slight feeling of relaxed excitement—you are alert, present, and attentive. When you become dysregulated, your body’s greatest need is to return to a regulated state in that 5-6 zone. Affect regulation lies at the core of feeling like you can control your insides. Moreover, all dysfunctional ways of being in the world—all addictions and compulsions—are, at their core, attempts at affect regulation. An impaired ability to self-regulate wreaks havoc in interpersonal relationships because, when you become dysregulated, you are no longer present.
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