Cultivating emotional regulation results in inner peace and an ever-expanding awareness of one's self.
In this article, I'm going to share what emotional regulation is, how we can better "control" our emotions in the moment, and four mindset shifts that will help to create more emotional stability in your life.
What is emotional regulation?
Emotional regulation is taking responsibility for one's emotional reactions. When we're regulating our emotions, it means we're practicing being more aware and present with ourselves. We can feel an emotion without acting on it.
The opposite of emotional regulation would be feeling out of control and overwhelmed by our emotions. We're letting them consume and control us, causing pain in our lives and relationships.
I spent the majority of my 20's overwhelmed and controlled by my emotions. When I look back on that decade now, I can see just how much I was complicating my own life unnecessarily.
I don't regret those years though, because we can't deeply learn something until we've experienced all sides of it. It gave me the strong desire to understand and regulate my emotions, and in the process I connected with neglected and misdirected parts of myself.
4 emotional regulation skills
The following four tips are suggestions that I have implemented in my own life in order to notice and handle my emotions.
Emotional regulation really comes from taking on a more accurate perception of reality and giving ourselves time every day to process and reflect. Here's how I would recommend putting all of this into practice.
1. Replenishing the self daily
Overwhelmed people are overstimulated people. They're going from one thing to the next, even if it's just phone scrolling or Netflix, and aren't ever getting quality time in silence.
Self-care is a buzzword thrown around without any real thought as to its purpose. It's not a luxury afforded only to some, it's not time spent frivolously, and every single person has a choice to do it or not.
It's also not something that needs to be a long, drawn out process. It can be deep breathing for a few minutes before bed with no screens, or a shower in silence with low lighting.
It looks like quiet contemplation. A moment of reprieve from the world. It allows you to breathe, gather your thoughts, and redirect your sails.
When you give yourself time to be alone every day, you allow for your system and mind to relax and process. You start knowing yourself on deeper levels and connecting with an energy source deep within that replenishes every part of you.
When we aren't practicing any form of self-care, we find ourselves losing our cool more often, feeling overwhelmed with emotions, and unable to get a grip on them.
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2. Observe rather than react
Learning to become present was one of the most enlightening experiences of my spiritual journey. I read the book The Power of Now and simply started practicing bringing myself into the present moment.
When you become an observer of life rather than a reactor, the whole world changes. Imagine being present during a possibly upsetting situation and thinking "this is interesting" rather than feeling defensive or fearful.
When I'm in the present moment, it's near impossible for someone to upset me. And I'm talking about people who know how to push my buttons, like a partner or family member. When I'm present, I can observe their emotional reaction instead of getting lost in it with them.
So many emotional upsets are simply due to mulling over things that have already happened, or getting ourselves upset over what we assume will happen in the future.
Anyone who is overwhelmed and controlled by emotions is spending the majority of their time dwelling in the past or the future. They aren't present. In the present moment, you are an observer and not a reactor.
3. Practice being unapologetically you
A lot of drama and emotional upset comes from our programmed habits of people pleasing and "being polite". In other words, not being honest in our communications with others and ourselves.
This causes us to bottle up feelings of resentment and anger. As a result we are easily triggered and emotions seem to erupt on anyone who falls on our path.
Imagine being shamelessly YOU; doing what lights you up and allowing others to do the same. Not living for anyone else's expectations except your own, for anyone else's approval or permission.
Because here's the key: you aren't responsible for others' emotions and they aren't responsible for yours. Understanding this eradicates drama and the need to be anything other than you.
How much drama would be avoided in our lives if we simply started being unapologetically ourselves? If we allowed others to be the same without assuming they're being unloving towards us? If we truly lived and let live?
What are the majority of emotions other than the result of hurtful thoughts we're choosing to think? Follow the emotion back to the thought and inquire honestly if it's based in absolute truth.
If it's not, then drop it. Let it go. Say "My bad" to whoever was on the receiving end of your emotions and laugh it off. Move in this moment towards what feels authentically good and exciting for you.
4. Feel in order to release
Emotions aren't bad, they just are. You aren't bad for having an emotion. Detach from the notion that you are identified by or with the emotion.
Thinking things like "I shouldn't be feeling this way", or "They made me feel this way" only causes more unnecessary emotional upset. The best way to let go of an emotion is to sit with it and feel it.
As you allow it to come up and be felt, you then open the door for it to leave rather than remaining in the psyche. Sometimes it might take all that you have to let an emotion make its way through you, but it will heal and break you open in all the ways that are good and soul-expanding.
When an emotion feels big, it needs to come through. It can feel scary and overwhelming, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being vulnerable and asking for help. Whether you realize it or not, you're never, ever alone.
We're all connected to one another in this divine matrix web. You can ask for help from those in the physical or in spirit, and either way you will always receive it. When I let go and trust in divine flow, I find that I am always safe, loved and guided.
Controlling emotions in the moment
If you find yourself in a moment where intense emotion is surging through you, the best thing to do is give yourself distance and a way to process the emotion.
This could look like going to a private space to breathe, scream or cry. Going for a walk has scientific evidence that shows it helps to regulate emotions. If you find journaling to be therapeutic for you, this is also a good option to release your feelings and overwhelming energy onto the paper.
Other people are our mirrors. What we see in them is really something we see in ourselves that we are pushing away. To project onto another helps the ego justify painful emotions that we have been feeling for a very long time. Different people come into our lives that the ego will use with a different story, but with the same underlying emotion that needs to be acknowledged and healed.
Some of the best material on how to process and handle emotions that I have found comes from Byron Katie. You can find her books anywhere and there are countless videos on YouTube of her walking people through their thoughts and emotions.
It is the most freeing work you will ever do. She also has free worksheets here under the "Downloads" tab at the top. I regularly use the ones called "Judge Your Neighbor" and "Inquiry: The Four Questions & Turnarounds". I do them anytime I catch myself building any kind of resentment towards anyone else.
Invest the time it takes into your mental and emotional well-being. It is SO worth it. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this article and found something to take away with you.
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Jessica Dimas is the creator of Manifesting Magic with the Moon, a holistic self-care ritual bundle.