What is emotion regulation?

During our teenage years and early twenties we often experience really intense feelings and emotions. Not only does this feel overwhelming, but it can be confusing, changing rapidly from day to day. While this is going on, our minds are developing habits.

Every time we respond to an emotion in a particular way, with a behaviour or thought, our mind remembers this.

The next time that emotion shows up again, it is highly likely we will think or act the same way…..even if this wasn’t really helpful the last time. If our response (thought or behaviour) gets us into trouble or leads to more intense or uncomfortable feelings, we can start to feel really out of control and unable to act in a different way.

Learning some skills to regulate emotion can be really helpful. Importantly, emotion regulation is about feeling like you can manage your emotions rather than being managed by emotions.

So what does emotion regulation involve?

  • Identifying an emotion when it shows up
  • Understanding how emotions work and why we experience them
  • Developing strategies to manage our response to emotions

Importantly, emotion regulation is not about trying to push away or stop experiencing uncomfortable emotions! It is about managing our response to an emotion when it shows up.

Further Resources