“I can’t control my emotions”, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me!” These are two common phrases that many people have said before. I have seen many children, teens and adults who are unable to display emotional regulation. What is emotional regulation? Emotional regulation is the ability to have control over your emotions. This doesn’t mean that you will never have strong emotions, but you will be able to remain in control and not make emotionally charged decisions. Identifying when you have a strong emotion is the first part of learning how to manage intense emotions. Followed by finding strategies that help you stay grounded, and move past the highs and lows that emotions can be.
Dan Siegle is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA he has a saying “name it to tame it”. Putting words to how you are feeling will give you the ability to add in coping mechanisms to help you through the distressing emotion. Name it to tame it is something that I use with a lot of my clients. When we feel physically sick, and we go to the doctor we feel some sense of relief when we get a diagnosis. This is because we now know what course of treatment will ensue to become healthy again. The same is true with emotions unless we know we are depressed, anxious, angry, having a trauma response, and so forth – we don’t know how to process, heal and change. Name it to tame it is very important. Once we have a word for what we are struggling with we are much more likely to be able to come to a place of emotional regulation.
Written by: Bethany Juran, LPC