Learning self-control is one of the most important parts of growing up, right? We’re always trying to teach our kids how important it is not to let their feelings get the best of them. A lot of the time, though, when we try to reinforce self-control, we’re actually missing an opportunity to teach something much more important: self-regulation.
Self-regulation can play an important role in relationships, well-being, and overall success in life. People who can manage their emotions and control their behavior are better able to manage stress, deal with conflict, and achieve their goals.
Gottfredson and Hirschi define self-control as the differential tendency of individuals to avoid criminal acts independent of the situations in which they find themselves. Individuals who lack self-control tend to be impulsive, insensitive, nonverbal, short- sighted, and quick to anger. Those with low self-control are likely to pursue risky behaviors without considering the potential long-term consequences of their actions. So what then is the differences between self-control and self-regulation. Emotion regulation is the ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm.
Self-control is all about inhibiting impulses and emotions; self-regulation focuses on reducing both the intensity and frequency of those impulses.
It is important to understand that children are not born with emotion regulation capabilities. An infant is biologically immature and is therefore physically incapable of soothing himself during times of upset. This is why a nurturing relationship with a caregiver is so important to the healthy emotional development of a child. As the child grows, he or she learns emotion regulation skills from parents and other important adults such as teachers or close relatives. For example, the child may be taught helpful ways to think about problems rather than become overwhelmed when facing an emotional challenge.
A traumatised parent who is unable to control their own emotions is unlikely to have the ability to help their child. In some cases, the traumatised parent may escalate the child’s distress with angry or fearful reactions to the child’s problems. In these cases, the child does not have the opportunity to learn valuable emotion regulation skills while growing up. It can also be associated with an experience of early psychological trauma, brain injury, or chronic maltreatment (such as child abuse, child neglect, or institutional neglect/abuse), and associated disorders such as reactive attachment disorder.
Some causes can be early childhood trauma, child neglect, and traumatic brain injury. Individuals can have biological predispositions for emotional reactivity that can be exasperated by chronic low levels of invalidation in their environments resulting in emotional dysregulation. People with a borderline personality disorder often experience emotional dysregulation and have greater emotional sensitivity, emotional reactivity, and difficulty returning to a baseline emotional level that feels stable.
Emotional dysregulation refers to the inability of a person to control or regulate their emotional responses to provocative stimuli. It should be noted that all of us can become dysregulated when triggered.
Symptoms of Emotional Deregulation:
- Severe depression.
- High levels of shame and anger.
- Excessive substance use.
- High-risk sexual behaviors.
- Extreme perfectionism.
- Highly conflictual interpersonal relationships.
- Lying is really rooted in emotional dysregulation
The Difficulties lies in measuring emotion regulation when it comes to your personal responses. Following the measuring criteria’s to determine your ability to regulating your emotions:
- Nonacceptance of emotional responses
- Difficulty engaging in goal-directed behaviour
- Impulse control difficulties
- Lack of emotional awareness
- Limited access to emotion regulation strategies
- Lack of emotional clarity
Emotion Dysregulation may be thought of as the inability to manage the intensity and duration of negative emotions such as fear, sadness, or anger. If you are struggling with emotion regulation, an upsetting situation will bring about strongly felt emotions that are difficult to recover from. The effects of a prolonged negative emotion may be physically, emotionally, and behaviorally intense.
For example, an argument with a friend or family member may cause an over-reaction that significantly impacts your life. You can’t stop thinking about it or you may lose sleep over it. Even though on a rational level you feel it’s time to let it go, you are powerless to control how you feel. You may escalate a conflict to the point it is difficult to repair, or you may indulge in substances to help yourself feel better, thus creating further stress for yourself and others.
What are the 5 emotion regulation strategies?
The five strategies (see also Gross, Sheppes and Urry, 2011 – research which inspired this list) are as follows:
- Manage the chimp (or ’emotion interrupt’) …
- Suppress, mask or squash the emotion. …
- Redirect your attention. …
- Reframe what is going on positively. …
- Change the context
- Create space. Emotions happen fast. …
- Noticing what you feel. …
- Naming what you feel. …
- Accepting the emotion. …
- Practicing mindfulness. …
- Identify and reduce triggers. …
- Tune into physical symptoms. …
- Consider the story you are telling yourself.
- Self-monitoring (also called self-assessment or self-recording)
- Self-instruction (also called self-talk)
How do you fix emotional dysregulation?
One of the most effective methods of treating emotional dysregulation is dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT. DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy in which patients are taught skills and strategies for managing emotions, handling conflict, and building tolerance for uncomfortable feelings. It is common for those suffering with emotion dysregulation to experience difficulty with interpersonal relationships. Extreme emotional reactions and difficulty resolving conflicts, adds stress on personal and professional relationships. Given that successful emotion regulation is a key aspect of personal well-being, difficulties in emotion regulation are theorised to be a transdiagnostic risk for the onset and maintenance across psychopathologies.
Emotion regulation is essential for healthy functioning.
What is severe emotional dysregulation?
Emotional dysregulation means that an individual has difficulty regulating their emotions. They may feel overwhelmed, have difficulties controlling impulsive behaviors, or have angry outbursts. These intense responses can cause trouble with relationships, work, school, and daily life.
Emotional dysregulation refers to difficulty in regulating emotions. It can manifest in several ways, such as feeling overwhelmed by seemingly minor things, struggling to control impulsive behaviors, or having unpredictable outbursts.
There are many different types of emotional dysregulation, and each person’s experience is unique. Typically, emotional dysregulation means an individual has excessively intense emotions in response to a trigger. Therefore, an individual may feel their emotions are out of control. They may also have difficulties recognizing their emotions and feel confused, guilty, or stressed about their behavior.
If you feel that you do not have the coping skills and think this may be something you need to explore in your journey to being mentally stable and emotionally aware of your impact on relationships in your world. Kindly contact Christel Maritz. She is a psychologist (clinical psychologist) operating from her Somerset West Office in Somerset West.