By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC
Emotional regulation is the ability to draw on your self-awareness, and self-management to regulate your emotions. We all experience bad moods, impulses, and negative emotions like anger and stress. Emotional regulation is the ability to manage these emotions. It gives us the ability to be present and listen to someone when they most need it.
Emotional regulation is one of the key components of emotional intelligence, which includes the concepts of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Emotional intelligence is that sense of internal balance within us that enables us to keep our composure, make good decisions, communicate successfully, and maintain effective leadership and relationships even when under stress.
The most successful people demonstrate a high ability to regulate their emotions. They react less intensely, calm themselves more quickly, and accept emotional states rather than fight against them.
Letting your emotions take over leads to loss of focus and a decreased ability to problem solve and make decisions. It keeps you locked in your limbic system, thus impairing the higher functioning parts of your brain. When you are in your emotional mind, your thoughts tend toward negativity and judgment.
Wise mind, originated by Marsha Linehan, describes finding a balance between your emotional and logical self. When you are dysregulated, your emotions are high and can overwhelm decision making and focus.
When you are in a state of high emotion, you experience physiological changes that significantly impact your brain functioning.
Steps to regulate your emotions
- Name the emotion you are feeling.
- Acknowledge that all emotions are normal and valid.
- Ask yourself what is causing the emotion.
- Allow yourself to feel the emotion, even when it’s uncomfortable
- Validate your emotion rather than judge the reason behind it. Judgment triggers more negative feelings.
To counter judgment, imagine you are giving your best friend advice, what would you say to them. Ask yourself what is causing the emotion.
Take a deep breath, focus on your immediate surroundings, narrow your focus to only the goal in front of you. Tune out distractions, including extraneous noise, thoughts of any past failures or negative influences. Let other’s negativity bounce off you. Trust yourself and believe in a bigger vision of who you are and who you can be. We all have doubts and fears. Allow these to point the direction for challenges you will rise above.
We change our brains with every thought we have, every action we take, and every feeling we have. Our brain filters perceptions of ourselves, of the world, and our place in the world.
In order for your brain to change, and thus your life, you will need to change your experiences, change your habits, change your routines, try new hobbies, travel to new places, engage with different people, expose yourself to different perspectives. New ideas and new experiences are crucial to this process