Emotional self-regulation can be a challenge, but it’s worth it! The benefits of managing your emotions include increased productivity, better decision making, and improved communication skills.
Mastering the control of your emotions (emotional self-regulation) is one of the most important life skills a person can possess.
Undoubtedly, our emotions can be the source of great joy, but also of significant pain. In fact, without self-regulation, you would be unable to control impulsive behavior, get along with others, or achieve your goals.
According to research, emotional self-regulation is linked to improved academic and professional success, higher income, greater happiness, and social status. In fact, this ability helps your to more easily adapt to new situations which associates positively with well being and success (Côté et al., 2010).
Unfortunately, for many of us, managing our emotions can feel like a never-ending battle. But what if there was a way to gain greater control over our emotions?
In this post, I’ll explore some expert techniques for mastering the control of your emotions. Let’s get started.
What is emotional self-regulation?
It is commonly said that emotions should not be controlled, but rather expressed. However, there are certain situations in which the control of emotions is essential.
Emotional self-regulation is the process of controlling or managing your emotions in a healthy way.
“The biggest challenge to self-control is emotional regulation. Successful people know how to make their emotions their servants rather than masters.”Paul TP Wong
In any given situation, we have the ability to choose how we will respond. Although our emotions are a natural, normal part of who we are, we don’t have to be ruled by them.
The process model for controlling your emotions includes these 05 steps:
(1) Situation Selection
(2) Situation Modification
(3) Attentional Deployment
(4) Cognitive Change
(5) Response Modulation
Each of these methods can be helpful in different situations. What works for one person might not work for another, so it’s important to find what works best for you.
Step 1: Situation Selection to control your emotions
You can learn to master the control of our emotions by making choices about the situations you put yourself in. For instance, if you know you’ll be around people who tend to bring out the worst in you, or if there’s a place you always seem to get into arguments, it might be best to avoid those situations altogether.
You can also choose how much time and energy you invest in certain relationships. If there’s someone in our life who is consistently negative or toxic, maybe it’s time to cut back on the time you spend with them.
Step 2: Situation modification to control your emotions
It is essential that you learn the techniques of situation modification to master the control of your emotions. This will enable you to take charge of the situations that evoke negative emotions within you.
Essentially, you change the situation to make it more comfortable.
When you can do this, you will be more resilient and better able to cope with stress.
For example, if you find yourself getting angry every time you have to deal with paperwork, you might try to create a more organized system for dealing with it.
Another way to modify a situation is to change your physical environment.
Step 3: Attentional deployment to control your emotions
Attentional deployment is one approach that has been shown to be effective in the management of emotions. This involves training the mind to focus on certain emotional experiences, while ignoring others that are overwhelming.
Attentional deployment includes both distraction and attention focusing techniques such as concentration.
For example, a job interview or an important presentation. In these cases, it is crucial to deploy attentional resources in order to maintain a calm and professional demeanor.
One way to do this is to focus on your breath. Taking slow, deep breaths helps to oxygenate the bloodstream and send a signal of relaxation to the body.
Another helpful technique is to visualization. Picturing yourself in the desired emotional state can help to bring about the desired result. With practice, it is possible to master the control of your emotions and create the impression you desire.
Step 4: Cognitive change to control your emotions
Cognitive changes to master the control of your emotions include cognitive reappraisal, cognitive restructuring, cognitive distancing and humor. Let’s take a closer look at each one of these strategies.
a) Cognitive reappraisal for emotional self-regulation
Cognitive reappraisal involves changing the way you think about a situation to make it more positive. For example, if you’re feeling nervous about giving a presentation, you might tell yourself that it’s an opportunity to show off your knowledge.
b) Cognitive restructuring for emotional self-regulation
Cognitive restructuring involves challenging negative thoughts and beliefs in order to change the way we think about and react to situations. In contrast to cognitive reappraisal, cognitive restructuring is applied to unrealistic thoughts that are negative.
Negative irrational thought: “I’m such a failure.”
Cognitive restructuring: “I’m not a failure. I’ve just had some setbacks. I can learn from my mistakes and become successful.”
c) Cognitive distancing for emotional self-regulation
Cognitive distancing means viewing the situation as if you are an outsider. This can be done by focusing on the facts of the situation, rather than your personal feelings. For example, if you are feeling angry but analyze the situation as an outsider, you may realize that it isn’t a big deal and that other people have gone through worse.
c) Humor for emotional self-regulation
Humor involves looking at the situation in a lighthearted way. Actually, humor is a great way to defuse a tense situation and put yourself and others at ease.
It can be used to improve mood, diffuse anger, build rapport, and establish trust.
For instance, when you’re feeling angry, try making a joke about the situation instead of getting mad. This will help diffuse the tension and let off some steam.
“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”Viktor E. Frankl
5. Response modulation to control your emotions
Response modulation is the process of controlling your emotional responses to different stimuli. This can be done through a variety of methods, including expressive suppression, self-soothing, watching and waiting, acceptance and problem solving.
Response modulation has been shown to be an effective way to control emotions and to improve your emotional well-being.
a) Expressive suppression for emotional self-regulation
Expressive suppression means trying to hold in your emotions. For example, you might try not to cry when you are feeling sad. While this strategy can be helpful in some situations, it can also lead to negative outcomes, such as increased stress and anxiety.
b) Self-soothe for emotional self-regulation
Self-soothing means calming yourself down with activities that are soothing to you. For instance, if you are feeling anxious, you might try listening to calm music or taking a warm bath.
Some helpful strategies include mindfulness, deep breathing, and positive self-talk. Mindfulness can help you to be more aware of your emotions and the triggers that lead to difficult emotions.
Deep breathing can help to calm the body and mind, and positive self-talk can help to reframe negative thoughts.
c) Wait and watch for emotional self-regulation
As the name says, waiting and watching refers to taking time to see how you feel before responding to a situation. For example, if you are feeling angry, you might wait a few minutes before responding to the situation.
d) Acceptance for emotional self-regulation
Acceptance involves accepting your emotions and the situation that is causing them. For instance, if you are feeling sad about a loved one’s death, you might accept that you are grieving and allow yourself to feel the sadness.
e) Problem-solving for emotional self-regulation
Problem-solving is trying to find a solution to the issues that are causing your emotions. For example, if you are feeling angry about a situation at work, you might try to come up with a plan to fix the problem.
Read also: 23 Simple tips to control negative emotions
Final words on mastering the control of your emotions
Learning to control your emotions is a critical life skill that can be improved with practice. We’ve looked at several examples of how you can use emotional self-regulation in their everyday lives.
What strategies do you use to regulate your emotions? Please share them in the comments below and let’s continue the conversation.
How can I manage my emotions under pressure?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by pressure, it can be tough to keep your emotions in check. But there are some things you can do to help manage your emotions and stay in control. Click here to learn the 10-Step process for controlling your emotions under pressure.
What are the benefits of emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence has been shown to have a number of benefits. Individuals who are emotionally intelligent are better able to regulate their emotions, set boundaries, and manage stress. They are also better able to relate to others and build strong relationships. Furthermore, emotional intelligence has been linked to success in various fields, from education to business. Read more
Côté S, Gyurak A, Levenson RW. The ability to regulate emotion is associated with greater well-being, income, and socioeconomic status. Emotion. 2010 Dec;10(6):923-33.
Gross, J.J. & Thompson, Ross. (2007). Emotion Regulation: Conceptual Foundations. Handbook of Emotion Regulation. 3-27.