Being angry consumes a lot of energy; this is considered one of the most difficult emotions to deal with. Many people in the world allow anger to take control of their actions and as a result hurt themselves or others.
Fear is a mechanism that allows us to adapt to the environment and allows us to react quickly to threatening situations; Although embargoed, it can also negatively interfere with and limit our growth or quality of life. Many people let their emotions take control of their actions.
Despite them, it’s not a good idea to try to contain them: emotions do not appear because they appear, these respond to a specific reason. But that doesn’t mean we should let them take control of our behavior. Emotions have to be managed by different methods of the will, we will not stop feeling anger or fear as much as we want.
There are different techniques that allow us to learn to regulate our emotions and allow us to develop this field of intelligence. This type of method is based on a series of simple guidelines that allow people to find the right balance between expressing and controlling feelings.
In this article we explain what emotional self-regulation is and explain the different techniques used currently to learn how to effectively regulate the different emotions. We also address some of the most common barriers we may face in this learning.
What is emotional self-regulation?
To pursue long-term goals, we must be able to control our behaviors and emotions, as well as our thoughts. This is called emotional self-regulation. This term also refers to the ability to control impulses that can cause problems.
Emotional self-regulation is defined as the ability to respond to stimuli and manage emotions appropriately; it means being able to consider our actions before acting. This ability also includes the willingness to recover from disappointments and to act according to our values. It is one of the five main aspects of emotional intelligence.
To simplify, self-regulation, at first, could mean understanding how to behave, this ability begins to develop in childhood. As they grow, children learn to control their temper tantrums, they are able to deal with uncomfortable feelings such as frustration in a “self-regulated” way. By learning to control these impulses in the early years of development, they can be satisfactorily managed in adulthood. Self-regulation it is crucial both for emotional maturity and for the development of future social relationships.
How to develop a good capacity for self-regulation?
Mature people have the ability to calmly consider their emotions, their environment and themselves in the face of different situations, they are able to regulate their own sense of identity.
Additionally, the ability to self-regulate is crucial because it allows people to effectively achieve their goals and ambitions. It is important in the achievement of objectives to know how to take the time to think, to develop a plan and to wait calmly. It means learning to pause between the onset of an emotion and the action to be taken.
It’s obvious what lack of self-control can cause considerable problems. Many people face different difficulties resulting from the lack of self-regulation, including children and adults. For example, a child or person who yells at others when frustrated will receive negative attention from their peers.
Additionally, poor self-regulation can cause other negative conditions such as anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, and lack of confidence to arise. This is because adults with regulation issues also have difficulty dealing with stress and frustration. In the worst case, these adults with little capacity for self-regulation can develop a mental illness.
In general, people who exhibit high levels of self-regulation also exhibit the following characteristics:
- They act according to their values
- They know how to calm down when they are upset
- They know how to cheer themselves up when they encounter difficulties or have a bad day
- They have a capacity for perseverance, they don’t give up easily.
- They always try to give their best.
- They are flexible, they have a great ability to adapt to different situations.
- They see challenges as new opportunities
- They have a great sense of responsibility
In the act in accordance with their core values or sense of social responsibility, self-regulation allows people to express themselves appropriately and is related to assertiveness. This is achieved by acting in a way that suits your personal standards and values. If a person values academic achievements above all, a good capacity for self-regulation will allow him to study instead of being distracted by other things.
Self-regulation has a positive effect on health, it has been shown that people with better self-regulation abilities have greater resistance to stress, lower cortisol levels and better overall health.
Success in life requires people to have a healthy system of self-regulation. However, problems with self-regulation are common. These can happen early in a child’s life, for example, a baby may have problems calming down and regulating themselves if they don’t get the proper care.
Alternatively, a child may have difficulty self-regulating if they do not feel safe or protected, or if they are unsure that their needs will be met. Although these can develop at any age, it may be due to the lack of tools to deal with difficult emotions. These problems can have greater consequences, and even act as triggers for trouble, if they are not treated correctly. Lately, very low levels of self-regulation are linked to risky behaviors and substance abuse.
Practical tips for emotional self-regulation
As we have seen, the capacity for self-regulation is fundamental to our well-being; however, most of us lack effective strategies to use this skill
Most people just assume that children will naturally outgrow their tantrums. While this is partly true, everyone, children and adults, can benefit from learning specific strategies that help us regulate our emotions.
Numerous research studies have shown that, in addition to other benefits, practicing mindfulness (or mindfulness) significantly improves attention span. It helps people regulate their negative emotions and improve their executive function.
By performing small acts of gratitude and practicing mindful breathing, people can learn to create distance between us and our emotions. This, in addition, leads to developing a better ability to concentrate and a calmer state of mind.
2. Art therapy
Self-regulation of emotions involves recognizing and understanding them. An effective way to do this is to use creative language to express feelings.
Art therapy consists of the combination of different artistic disciplines to express emotions and balance them. Through artistic expression, people can give new meanings to their emotional conflicts. This is possible because the emotions are reconsidered before that they are not expressed through painting, crafts or writing.
3. Simulated environments
To self-regulate emotions, environments that are not real, whether virtual or imaginary, can be used. By exposing ourselves to situations in which we feel vulnerable in a simulated way, we can assess the situation and our feelings, without too much nervousness. After understanding the emotion and why it exists, they can look for ways to replace or diminish it.
Some psychological situations can be digitally recreated by psychologists or their institutes. However, this is not the only method available; To deal with circumstances over which they believe they have no control, people can use their imaginations. It means describing or drawing what is happening. The goal is to determine the moments or stimuli that make them feel out of place.
4. Regulate thoughts
Emotional responses can be changed by reinterpreting the circumstances surrounding a situation. This is achieved through the cognitive reformulation strategy, also known as cognitive reappraisal. This strategy it involves changing thought patterns to change emotional responses to scenarios.
Research has shown that people who frequently use cognitive reappraisal in their daily lives experience more positive and less negative emotions. An example of this is when you consider the possibility of a friend not responding to your messages or calls. Instead of assuming they hate you, you can assume they are busy.
4. Acceptance of events
Self-regulation can be improved by implementing acceptance strategies and problem solving. Instead, people tend to use unnecessary strategies such as evasion, distraction, suppression, and worry in the face of difficult situations.
5. Take note
Being overly critical or demanding can make us overly sensitive to criticism or negative feedback. This has a negative impact on our self-esteem and our capacity for self-evaluation. It is important to maintain a realistic perspective, to periodically evaluate ourselves and to remember all that we have accomplished, this can be weekly or monthly. It allows us, instead of focusing on the negative, to focus on what we do well. By identifying our successes and our reasons for pride, We facilitate the relationship with ourselves and, ultimately, we help regulate our emotions.
6. Be grateful
Regularly practicing gratitude and optimism will radically change the way we view life and emotions. These strategies have a snowball effect, they affect attitude, which in turn affects how you feel. Let us also appreciate the good that we have in our daily life decreases the frequency and intensity of negative emotions. Visualizing and projecting a pleasant future increases general positivity and optimism.
7. Don’t overwork yourself
Emotional self-regulation is also about avoiding excessive demands on yourself. It means dealing with necessary conflicts, duties and responsibilities, but without overburdening yourself. To achieve this, we must learn to delegate taskssetting boundaries in our relationships and expressing our needs assertively and at the right time.
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