Emotion Regulation

What Is Emotion Regulation?

Unlike small children, who must learn to control their emotions, adults are expected to be able to manage (or regulate) theirs—especially emotions like anxiety and anger—and to prevent negative thoughts and feelings from driving their behavior.

Still, everyone experiences times when they feel emotionally overwhelmed and allow their feelings to control their actions. When this happens, they often regret the things they say or do and wish they had been able to keep those emotions in check.

In addition to (or as part of) emotion regulation therapy and self-regulation therapy, there are techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, and stress management, that can help one take charge of negative emotions and ameliorate one's response to emotional situations. These techniques can also provide other benefits, like improved mood, increased feelings of self-worth, and increased empathy

How We Control Our Emotions

While there are many ways to influence one’s emotional state for the better, emotion regulation often involves what experts call “down-regulation,” or willfully reducing the intensity of emotions. A grieving person might down-regulate his sadness by recalling something amusing about the person he misses. An anxious person may cope by distracting herself from the thought that is causing her anxiety.

The flip side of this practice is “up-regulation,” or amping up one’s emotions, which can be useful when an imminent danger or upcoming challenge calls for a healthy dose of anxiety or excitement.

CONNECTED TOPICS

Anxiety, Self-Control

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