#3 Window Of Tolerance: Safe Enough And Okay Enough vs Too Much Or Not Enough

We all have a certain amount of energy each day. When our energy is just right we feel well and as if we can take on any challenges. This is because we are within our optimal state of arousal or what is known as the “Window of Tolerance”. We are safe enough and okay enough. #HealingTrauma

However, we are not always in this window. Sometimes we experience too much arousal or not enough. The good news is there are only two directions we can go: up or down. So we are either in our 👌🏼 Window of Tolerance (optimally aroused), ☝🏼 in the Attic (hyper aroused) or in the 👇🏼 Basement (hypo aroused).

The ☝🏼 Attic is too much energy, or arousal, and can be experienced as: anger, anxiety, overwhelm, terror, or even mania. The 👇🏼 Basement is not enough energy, or arousal, and can be experienced as: tired, sad, numb, flat, empty, or depressed. So we can learn to ask ourselves: Where am I?

Knowing this is valuable because we can check: Am I in my 👌🏼 Window? Am I in the ☝🏼 Attic? Or am I in the 👇🏼 Basement? The answer is like a compass that gives us direction what to do and where to go. It also eliminates confusion which is good because uncertainty can exacerbate distress.

Australian Geographic: Laura Dance Festival
Cape York, Australia.


All babies needs certain ingredients to remain in their Window of Tolerance: warmth, touch, soft vocalisation, milk and sleep. With these ingredients, they become safe enough and okay enough. Without them they will cry. They may need more or less to return to their window.

Adults are like big babies. We need warmth, touch, soft vocalisation, food and sleep. However, we do not need our parents to regulate. This may confuse what is helpful or harmful ingredients: Is it food, sleep, movement, partner, friend, counsellor, sex, drugs, gaming, gambling, porn?

Isha Yoga Centre, Tamil, India

“The word Yoga means “union”. Yoga is not a religion. We looked at the Universe and saw a union.” – Sadhguru


Some ingredients make us feel good instantly (e.g. sugar) with short lasting effects. Others are more challenging (e.g. exercise) with longer lasting benefits. Addiction has a rebound effect whereby the substance (or object) gives instant relief but then we feel even worse after.

Marcelo Alegre Rubic teaching Filipino Martial Arts in Los Bañas, Laguna, Philippines.

“Hence my mantra…
not why the addiction…
why the pain?”

– Dr Gabor Mate

When we are in the ☝🏼 Attic (too much), we need self care tools to help us to 👇🏼 calm down. When we are in the 👇🏼 Basement (not enough) we need ways to help us ☝🏼recharge. Since what we need might be different it’s important to ask ourselves where are we. What makes you 👇🏼 calm down (attic)? What makes you ☝🏼 recharge (basement)?

“Take my hand. We will walk. We will only walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Check your 👌🏼 protectors – Body: safety and stabilisation via shelter, food, water, movement, rest. Mind: clarity via checking danger vs safety, imagination vs reality, intimacy vs play, being “Thankful (i.e. gratitude) to feel (i.e. empathy), right here, right now (i.e. mindfulness).”

Play (safety, movement, high arousal, flip side of fight/flight).

Social Connection: family, friends, community. Country: nature, walking, camping, fishing, star gazing. Culture: the colours of life via cooking, music, arts, poetry, science, technology, travel. Spirituality: Existence via atheism, theism, agnosticism.

“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being.” – Mawlana Jala-al-Din Rumi

Remember it is easier to make sensible decisions in our 👌🏼 Window of Tolerance: Safe enough and okay enough. We might make decisions we regret in the ☝🏼 attic, like getting angry or running through the streets naked! We might feel hopeless or like we cannot cope in the 👇🏼 basement.

Research demonstrates the Window of Tolerance can be smaller for people who have experienced trauma. In other words, they might not be able to tolerate as much as others. They might spend more time in the ☝🏼 attic or in the 👇🏼 basement: not feeling safe enough or okay enough.

Healing Trauma. #YouBelong

“Eleven years ago, I was in hospital; anorexic with atrophied muscles, I struggled to walk. Last year I won a marathon. We do transform as individuals. And we do transform as a community. When I first reported, I was shamed and ridiculed by some. But now my truth is helping to reconnect us. I know who I am, I’m a survivor.” – Grace Tame #LetHerSpeak

The good news is we can learn to regulate our arousal and this will help to increase our Window of Tolerance. How? By regularly checking in: Am I in my 👌🏼 Window? ☝🏼 Attic? 👇🏼 Basement? Have I drawn on my protectors (see above): body, mind, social connection, culture, country and spirituality?

Youth and Truth: Unplug with Sadhguru

“Most people in the world are not really busy – they are just preoccupied, and that is tiring.” – Sadhguru


Life is like a wave. Always up and down. We use ingredients everyday, consciously or not, through each decision we make that impacts our arousal. With a little more awareness, and more helpful ingredients, we can regulate ourselves. This makes the wave of life become less turbulent.

“Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Source: Window of Tolerance was developed by Dan Siegel, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry. https://drdansiegel.com

Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong

With love,

Dr Louise Hansen
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist

#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong

John Bulter Trio – Peaces and Cream:

“Well there’s far too many questions to ask,
To answer any of them tonight.
For I wear too many masks,
Too tell if any of them are wrong or right.
And confusion casts a shadow up on me,
Like a great big cloud in the sky.
And now I pray for rain,
Cause it’s been so long since i let myself cry…”


“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation from First Nations to all Australians to realise a better future. Learn more and help us educate other Australians.”



“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
“Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of support we received overnight! We’re able to fund one more Indigenous Psychology student for a full three year Psychology degree from just a 10 minute appearance on ABC #TheDrum.” – Dr Tracy Westerman AM

If you would like to donate, please visit:

My partner Marcelo Alegre Rubic who taught me do not let anyone control your life. #YouBelong

Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo

Kopika (left) and Tharnicaa (right) were kept at Christmas Island Detention Centre for nearly two years despite trauma informed calls to return them to Biloela, Queensland. Tharnicaa has spent most of her life detained by the Australian Government and is still in community detention to this day. #YouBelong


***Since the creation of this website the Biloela family were released from detention, returned to Biloela and granted permanent protection in Australia. However, hundreds more people still remain stuck in a system that requires urgent reform.***

Welcome to the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law. Join us to make positive changes for refugees around the world.


New Kaldor Centre policy brief proposes reforms to Australia’s temporary protection system | Kaldor Centre:


You can listen my talk with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, the President of Blue Knot Foundation on my own healing journey, training and study and how it has informed my work and advocacy for a trauma informed world here:

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Trauma Informed World acknowledges and respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which this educational resource was inspired. I acknowledge and respect Elders past, present and emerging. I honour the continuation of educational, cultural and spiritual practices and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of people and relationships worldwide. This website contains images of deceased persons. There are also swear words in some of the songs presented that portray intense emotions. This website is not intended to trigger people who have experienced trauma. However, if you do find any of the content triggering, each page has a link to Australia’s National Helplines and Websites for immediate mental health support. These are my own personal views and comments and may not reflect the views of my employer.

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To provide the best information possible, Beyond Blue has listed national helplines and external services. All services linked to Beyond Blue are reviewed before they are posted.

Published by Dr Louise Hansen

This is a free educational website on Trauma Informed Care for survival and wellbeing. While each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power. Let’s break the cycle of injustice and trauma together one day at a time. The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing. Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Knowledge is power: “Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. #YouBelong

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