Are you someone who has trouble controlling your emotion regulation? Maybe you don’t even know what you are feeling. Perhaps you overreact or respond in an attacking manner. Afterwards you realize that the conversation didn’t go as you had intended. If you do this on a regular basis, this can destroy relationships.
The good news is, there are skills and tools that you can learn to help you regulate your emotions. A goal is to be aware of what you are feeling, accepting the feeling as it is without judgment, and learning to respond in a way that is socially appropriate.
This is a key factor in learning emotion regulation. According to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) there are 3 states of mind. They are reasonable mind, emotion mind and wise mind. With a reasonable mind the person is using logic to the information coming towards them. Emotional mind is when the person is just going on emotion, not paying attention to the facts. Things may be become distorted. When one is using their wise mind, they are able to see the logic of the situation as well as the emotions that are involved.
Using mindfulness, one can hold their reasonable mind and emotional mind at the same time. If you are doing this you are able to be aware of the situation, pay attention to the emotions arising, stay in the moment and not judge it. This will help slow things down to help you gain control over your emotions.
Naming the emotion
Often times people who have trouble with emotion regulation have trouble labeling or naming the emotion. Being aware of what you are feeling is another important skill to learn.
A way to practice this is to pay attention to your current thoughts. Describe your thoughts and what is going on in the situation. An example might be, “I’m feeling sad” or “I can feel a tenseness is my chest.” What is happening that led you to have that emotion? What meaning to do you attach to it? How does it feel to have the emotion? How do you express it? Was it effective or ineffective?
Interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation
This is a tool from Marcia Linehan, PhD founder of DBT, when needing to have a difficult conversation with someone. It is called DEAR MAN (Each letter stands for a different strategy). You may want to practice what you are asking for. This can help you remember what you want to say. You can role play with someone else. That way you will be much better prepared for the situation.
Using the facts, describe what is occurring. Let the other person know what you are responding to.
Let the other person know what you are feeling about what is occurring in the situation. Be sure to use I statements stating what you would want or don’t want.
Ask for what you would like. Or tell the other person no. Don’t tell the person what they should do. This puts people on the defensive. Be clear about your desires. Other people cannot read your mind, and may have no idea how hard it is for you to ask for what you want. It may be obvious to you, but not the other person.
Reinforce the positives of getting what you would like. Let the other person know what it would be like if these needs were being met. You want them to feel good about their decision.
Stay in the moment with what is going on. Stay focused on your goals and don’t be distracted.
Based on what is occurring, you may need to use the broken record technique. That means if the other person tries to distract, you keep asking of the same thing over and over. Or you keep saying no, no matter what they say or do to get you to do what they want.
You may need to ignore the other person if they attack you or try to change the topic. Don’t let their threats or manipulations distract you. Stick with your point.
Keep your tone calm and steady; if they recognize you are wavering, you will appear less confident. Also, be sure to maintain eye contact. If you look down or away it can indicate that you will back down. Practicing this scenario with someone else can help you gain confidence if you are concerned about this step.
Be willing to compromise. Or ask the other person their thoughts on how to handle the situation and in a way that will work for both of you. Solving problems together is always a good way to maintain a healthy relationship.
I hope these tips are helpful for you. If emotion regulation is something you struggle with, please give me a call at 713-304-6554.