Your emotions play a part in your every interaction. And your responses are filtered by the way you regulate your emotions.
Emotional regulation starts when we’re children. Infants and toddlers can’t regulate their own emotions. But their parents can help them understand how to develop emotional regulation skills.
As we grow, our sense of the world changes. And our placement in the world also changes during different periods of life.
Here’s how and why emotional regulation skills can help you navigate different life stages and experiences.
How Do You Regulate Emotions?
The process model of emotional regulation suggests that a person’s ability to respond to experiences happens unconsciously. These are strategies we’re taught as children, and we incorporate them into our own process model as we age.
So, how do emotional regulation skills work?
Emotional regulation skills
Everyone has their own set of emotional regulation skills. And these skills are how we learn to manage our emotional response to what’s going on around us.
Emotional regulation can help us navigate:
- Experiences or situations that trigger an emotion
- Thoughts associated with the situation
- Emotions and physical reactions
It may seem like you don’t have control of your emotional reactions. However, with mindful training, you can build your skills.
Everyone’s emotional response is unique. And people have different coping mechanisms.
But some popular regulation skills include:
- identifying internal emotions
- identifying emotions in others
- pursuing goals when feeling anxious
- tolerating awkward feelings
- having intimate conversations
These skills can benefit you in a number of ways. Now, let’s take a closer look at emotional regulation in action.
What is an example of emotional regulation?
Everyone’s emotional regulation is different.
For example, if someone criticizes you at work, what do you do?
Some people may blame themselves and feel anxious. Others may take a defensive position and argue back.
What takes place from the incident to the resulting action is emotional regulation. They include your assessment of the situation, the emotional and psychological response, and the action you plan to take.
What is an emotional regulation strategy?
If your emotional regulation skills are your internal programming, your strategy is the plan.
Strategies are different ways to deal with emotional events. Some positive strategies include:
In addition, some people try to distract themselves as a way to regulate their feelings. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re avoiding the problem. But it can be helpful to shift your focus and lessen the emotional intensity.
On the other hand, cognitive reappraisal may be another beneficial strategy. Thinking about a situation or person in a different way may change your response to it.
What is emotion regulation in DBT?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT is a combination of behavioral and cognitive therapies. Emotion regulation is one of the four modules in this therapy.
The other modules include:
- interpersonal effectiveness
- mindfulness skills
- distress/tolerance/reality acceptance techniques
DBT participants are taught that emotions are neither good or bad. And that they happen to everyone.
Instead, they focus on understanding and accepting emotions as they come up.
A final thought
Create the emotions you would most like to feel on an on-going basis.
– Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Program
Your childhood and upbringing may have shaped your emotional regulation. But that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Remember: regulation is a habit. And like any habit, it can change with time, practice, and repetition.
So don’t let your emotions rule your actions. Instead, practice emotional insight and learn why you feel the way you do.
You can shift your emotional regulation and responses into more positive experiences. But awareness and patience are key.
So, do you have any go-to emotional regulation skills? Let us know in the comments below.