Do you find yourself hurting over things people say easily these days? Perhaps you are experiencing a difficult relationship? Perhaps your adult child is not communicating with you? Maybe your partner is quick tempered.
Do you find yourself welling up or feeling anxious as a result of constant conflicts?
What can you do during such explosive moments? Trying to change someone else by telling them what is wrong with their choices or approach doesn’t always get you the desired results for many reasons.
But one thing we do know is that you will need to start ‘regulating’ your emotions. Perhaps you have started raising your voice as well or have taken on an accusatory tone. This is not to say that your views are invalid or that the situation was not triggering. You may well have many valid points in how you view the situation.
We are not talking about your emotions here but the behaviours and communication style that you have embraced to address the issues. Of course these behaviours and communication style reflect your emotional state.
Regulating your emotions is about becoming aware about how you react and use your emotions to express and interact with the world.
Once you are able to identify the underlying emotions – are they fear based, are they rooted in anger, insecurity or even jealousy. The key is to observe your emotions with a sense of curiosity and awareness. Non-judgmentally. Neither justifying nor delving into it.
Keeping a thought diary really s. It s you ‘externalize’ your emotions and thoughts in a way. On the left hand side of your page write down the triggering incident, your thoughts on it, your emotions about the situation and rate the intensity of your emotions on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest disturbance.
Now, on the right side of the page, write down alternative possible responses and emotions to that triggering event. Then write down a ‘rational’ or ‘evidence-based response’ you could consider. Perhaps you may come to the conclusion that your responses need to be the same but your approach and style needs to be modified, or you may on reflection realize that you had completely ignored the rational or the emotional component to your earlier responses. Perhaps the emotions you embraced in your reactions were not ful in resolving the matter?
You may well come to one of many conclusions: perhaps letting go, or realizing that you need to be more assertive or decisive?
Thought diaries are great as a starting step towards building emotional regulation. This is one component of building emotional resilience