If you struggle with dysregulated behavior, you may feel like stopping the behavior would mean giving up one of your primary methods of experiencing:
Once you give up that source of relief and pleasure: What next?
As (a) the pressure is decreasing, (b) your muscles are strengthening, and (c) you feel less controlled by automatic reactions, you can be more effective in mastering additional ways to process emotions. These methods can include:
Sounds nice, huh? However, if you struggle with dysregulated behavior, you may be so caught up in the behavior that the above endeavors seem overwhelming. And anxiety-provoking. And maybe even impossible.
People who struggle with dysregulated behavior often have been conditioned to believe that some of their emotions and reactions are wrong or bad. You might have been taught that showing vulnerability means you are weak. Or that you should “choose to get over” negative emotions. Or that your reactions are just flawed in some way.
You might even think that something is wrong with you as a whole.
As a result, you might have become talented at hiding your emotions, even from yourself.
You may have become so caught up in
that you may sometimes lose touch with what you do feel.
Here is why: Negative or uncomfortable emotions do not exist separately from the rest of your emotions. If you routinely suppress or avoid negative emotions, your positive emotions will decrease as well.
In fact, you may sometimes even feel like you are not sure what would bring you long-term pleasure, what you do value, or what would make life feel more meaningful.
Mindfulness practice can target this disconnection in a several ways.
increase your ability to experience pleasure and a sense of connection, and
improve your ability to move toward a life that feels more meaningful and fulfilling.
Since this post is the last entry (for now) focused on how mindfulness addresses dysregulated behavior, I want to end by saying this: If you want to work to stop dysregulated behavior, I have the ultimate respect for you. Moving past dysregulated behavior can be painful and overwhelming, but it is also doable. I wish you all the best.
you deserve to realize that your emotions have value,
you deserve to live a life that feels fulfilling and meaningful.
*Special thanks to Rakhel Shapiro, Martin Viola, Emily Edwards, and Sindhu Shivaji for their contributions to this series.