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Why Emotion Regulation is Crucial to Wellbeing

Emotion, according to Don and Sandra Hockenbury in their book "Discovering Psychology," is a complex psychological state consisting of three distinct elements: a subjective experience, a physical response, and a behavioral response.

In addition, various types of emotions have been identified and classified by researchers which eventually changed their descriptions over time.

According to psychologist Paul Ekman in 1972, the six basic emotions that are shared by all humans across societies are anger, disgust, fear, surprise, sadness, and happiness. And in 1999, he added few other emotions to his list, including excitement, embarrassment, shame, contempt, satisfaction, pride, and amusement.

Moreover, in the 80's, Robert Plutchik developed the "wheel of emotions" which showed how various emotions can be mixed and blended, much like how primary colors are used in art to produce other colors. He suggested eight fundamental emotional components: anger vs. fear, happiness vs. sadness, surprise vs. anticipation, and trust vs. disgust. These emotions can then merge and produce other emotions, like anticipation + happiness = excitement.

As we've discussed in a previous article: Why Emotions Are Important and How Not to be Controlled by Them, emotions play a vital part in our daily lives and in our decision-making (both big and small). And we've explained how excess, or lack of emotion, can have detrimental impact to your wellbeing. Hence, we cannot ignore the importance of emotion regulation.

Understand emotions better in this video: Willingness: How to Feel your Feelings (How to Process Emotions).

Emotion Regulation

Your ability to exert control over your own emotional state is called emotion regulation (aka emotion management). It entails behaviors like inspecting or evaluating a stressful situation to minimize anxiety or anger, concealing obvious signs of fear or sadness, or turning your focus on things that make you feel calm or happy.

Although there are various ways and approaches to improve your emotional state, emotion management usually requires what specialists call "down-regulation" or a reduction of the magnitude of emotions. A person in grief may be able to lower their sadness by remembering a funny memory. Distracting oneself from a worrying thought can help an anxious person cope with anxiety.

On the one hand, "up-regulation" means boosting or increasing one's emotion. This is useful when a threat or challenge is about to happen, and it calls for a healthy dose of stress or optimism.

In this video, learn about Emotional Mastery: The Gifted Wisdom of Unpleasant Feelings by Dr. Joan Rosenberg.

If you need professional help learning emotion regulation skills, contact JarvisHypnotherapy today.

Why is emotion regulation important?

Unlike small kids, adults ought to be able to regulate their emotions in a way that's socially acceptable –especially anger and anxiety. People often do or say things they later regret when they fail to control their emotions, and subsequently wish they had been able to manage them better. The inability to control one's emotions is an indicator of some types of mental illness. It might eventually have a detrimental effect on a person's social relationships and personal wellbeing.

What emotions are the hardest to regulate?

Resentment, anger, and disappointment are universally felt emotions, and while we can try to mitigate and control them, we shouldn't unnecessarily stigmatize them. But in some cases, a poor ability to control one's emotions might be a symptom of a mental illness, like depression or borderline personality disorder.

What are the consequences of lack of emotional regulation?

The hazards of not managing strong emotions like anger, fear, or anxiety are obvious: unnecessary suffering, strained relationships from overreacting, and opportunities passed up as they seemed too overwhelming. Lower wellbeing and lesser satisfaction in relationships may also be linked to certain approaches in emotion management, including habitual repression.

What are the factors that affect emotional control?

With age, the strength of emotional outbursts also increases, including hitting, crying, yelling, self-harming acts, or even more violent behaviors. Our ability to manage emotions can be affected by our physical state, such as being hungry or in pain and by our psychological state, such as being tired or stressed.

Emotions may be more difficult to regulate when there are changes in the body's chemical balance. This can happen as a side effect of medication or due to an adult or teen's natural hormonal cycles. Emotional management can also be affected by neurological changes. This is evident in patients with dementia and adolescents with developing brains.

As we get older, fortunately, we can learn to manage emotions better and channel our reactions in constructive ways. We also learn to express our feelings through thoughtful words and mindful actions.

Hypnotherapy as a tool in emotion management

In therapy, approaches in emotion regulation vary with age. There's a different approach to helping toddlers and preschoolers, school-age children, teens, and adults.

In addition to the emotional regulation methods used with school-age children, self-calming techniques based on hypnosis can be particularly helpful for teens and adults who seek ways to better manage their emotions.

Patients can be taught to use hypnosis to calm themselves by visualizing a peaceful place. They then learn how to instantly induce this state of calm by doing bodily gestures as prompts, such crossing their fingers, taking slow, deep breaths, or tapping their foot.

Emotions make our life richer, they make our daily experiences more meaningful, and they make us who we are. But emotions become a problem when:

  • strong feelings persist for a long time (i.e. months or years)

  • they interfere with our ability to live a normal life

  • they are more intense or extreme than what most people would normally feel in certain situations

  • we become afraid or uneasy with our own body's feelings

  • we feel too much and get controlled by those feelings

  • we feel too little

  • we lack the proper ability to control our feelings effectively

For more resources in understanding emotions and emotion regulation, check out more videos in Therapy in a Nutshell’s playlist: How to Process Emotions Course.

We must first become aware of how our emotions are affecting our life if we want to manage them (or wish to live more comfortably with them). Get in touch with JarvisHypnotherapy to learn effective tools and skills in emotion regulation.

For more information on the benefits of hypnotherapy, check out this article in JarvisHypnotherapy’s website: The Effectiveness & Benefits of Hypnotherapy to Our Wellbeing.


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