Emotional Regulation: What is it? And how do I do it?

Emotional regulation is the skill of managing one’s response to a situation. It involves changing thoughts and behaviors to change the response effectively. Think of remaining calm, being controlled, and responding to things in a way that makes you feel genuine and authentic. The opposite of emotional regulation is dysregulation. Dysregulation can be destructive to the person and relationships; it’s usually characterized by unbridled self-expression that leaves others hurt and disconnected. A dysregulated person can generally be seen as having the following characteristics: sudden changes in mood, violent outbursts,  emotional outbursts, interpersonal conflict that is persistent, aggression, binge eating, and self-harming behaviors.

Emotional regulation is a critical skill to have in order to have a successful relationship. In a healthy relationship, each member is able to express emotions and discuss situations, including arguments, in a controlled, regulated way. Emotional regulation can be achieved by several coping skills that eventually train the body to regulate the response naturally. Someone can go from “flying off the handle” or “going from 0 to 100” to being someone who can calmly pause, think, reflect, and respond to situations. Some coping skills to manage emotions and build this type of regulation are as follows:

  • Stop and breathe.
  • Listen to music.
  • Consider your choices.
  • Accept what you are feeling.
  • Don’t view yourself as the victim; verbally or mentally process the situation at hand before responding.
  • Consider the impact of your response before acting on it. 

Take the time to reflect. Do you need to work on your ability to emotionally regulate? Do you struggle to be able to process your emotions before letting them control you? Maybe the better question is, do you regret the things you say or do after an emotional interaction? If you do, consider the coping skills and find one that works for you! 

By Leanne Jimenez APC
The Marriage Point

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