FAQ: What is Emotional Regulation?

Emotional regulation is basically the words we use for managing emotions as they come up for us.

In parenting, we are teaching children how to do this. We teach this by naming the emotion so that they recognize what they are feeling. We validate their feelings to show them that whatever they feel is ok. We want children to know that all feelings are important and are there to guide us and help us – they are not something to be feared. This is something many of us struggle with too from time to time and our emotions can be very difficult for us to manage.

We also guide children when they are feeling a certain way so that they know what to DO with their feelings. We want to teach them how to soothe and calm themselves through difficult emotions and we do this by doing it for them first when they are young. Often, children act out and tantrum when they are unable to cope with their big feelings. Adults can often do this too.

Emotional regulation is a process of allowing the feelings to be there and understanding what they are. When we are regulating them, we are soothing ourselves and processing the emotional experiences. Ideally, if we allow the feelings to work with us and we are able to process them, they will then release. When we fail to release emotions, they start to create problems in our lives as they are not meant to be repressed. We need to work towards accepting these emotions as a part of us and as valuable tools to assist us with difficult situations.

Our emotional system never lies and is the best guide we have in life. Resistance to feeling means we are actually in resistance to parts of ourselves.