I think we are in the era of “I feel.” More than ever as a culture, it has been encouraged to communicate feelings and tap more into emotions. This has been great and this is a win for everyone, especially those in relationships. There is one critical skill that gets left out, and that is emotional regulation. Emotional regulation skills seem to be very rare.
The lack of this skill is a key component in conflict and relationship dynamics. Also and in general communication in real life and online. I am going to dive deeper into what it is and different ways to show you how to regulate your emotions to have better interactions with people.
What is Emotional Regulation?
“Emotional regulation refers to the process by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express their feelings. Emotional regulation can be automatic or controlled, conscious or unconscious, and may have effects at one or more points in the emotion producing process.”(Gross, 1998, p. 275).
Emotional regulation is the ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state. Emotional regulation includes both positive and negative feelings. I am going to talk about how to strengthen them, use them, and control them. There are three components, and these components all have the word “trigger” in them. In social media, we see this daily. I have at least 1-2 posts per week where it triggered someone to make an emotionally triggered comment. Sometimes the trigger is from the post or another comment.
Now I am not going to go deeper into triggers, but I think you get the idea. The three components are:
- Initiating actions triggered by emotions
- Inhibiting actions triggered by emotions
- Modulating responses triggered by emotions
The third one is what I am going to focus on today. Every day we are stimulated by words and actions. Some that require some action or response on our end. We are also stimulated by things that really do not require our reaction. Sometimes this stimulation brings on negative emotions. There are correlating studies that show the connection between emotional regulation and managing depression. People who do not struggle with anxiety or low levels of it show higher emotional control and social-emotional intelligence. They tend to have more positive emotions.
I used to find myself addressing triggered actions by people in real life and online. After life coaching training, and my self-study of psychology and social dynamics, I stopped addressing these actions. Emotions are adaptive and perspective responses to the environment and how we were raised. Our environment can sometimes dictate our emotional responses and in my training, I learned emotion regulation strategies that help be manage stressful situations.
People who have poor emotional regulation always are at the mercy of their emotions. Well-emotionally regulated people have a better balance of judgment of their feelings and actions. Emotionally regulated people carefully judge which effective outcomes to accept and which ones to avoid. Emotional regulation allows us a period of time to think before we act on triggers. I am going to next show you how to do it.
How to Regulate Emotions
The first step to regulating your emotions is to be self-aware. Having a level of self-awareness that you struggle with this is a start. We can’t work on what we do not acknowledge. Having the self-awareness that you may not do this very well goes a long way. Next is acceptance. Acceptance is having the ability to experience your emotions without judging them and second-guessing your subsequent thoughts about your initial emotion. Let go and accept.
Being mindful is another way to help you regulate emotions better. Mindfulness helps us be more in tune with our control of emotion. Being mindful is the combination of awareness and acceptance. It is something I mastered through years of my own therapy, and it is popular and has shown to have a major positive impact on a person’s well-being. I am not going to lie, it is difficult to learn, and took many years to learn to be mindful, but I know you can do it. I know you can avoid letting negative emotions get the best of you.
Honestly, there are more ways, but these three are a great start for many of you. The other ways dive deeper into more therapy-like ways that should be considered part of therapy treatment. Being self-aware of where you are, accepting it, and being mindful can help start your journey to emotional self-regulation. If you would like further assistance with this, I would be glad to help. You can book a free discovery session to figure out where you are along your journey and how I can help you manage triggers and emotions better.
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