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Emotional regulation: this way we tame our state of mind

Emotional regulation: this way we tame our state of mind

February 8, 2023

One of the main characteristics that emotions present is that they began to exist long before reason. All vertebrate animals express a repertoire of actions that They can be identified with different moods , have or not have a capacity for reason developed, and the same happens with our ancestors, the first hominids.

This is what makes great passions and emotions have power over rationalizations. Once they begin to spread through our body, it is impossible to act as if they were not there.

However, that does not mean that we are not able to influence our moods in any way. In this article we will see what is emotional regulation and in what way can we benefit from it if we develop it in an adequate way.


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What is emotional regulation?

A first definition of the concept of emotional regulation may be as follows: our ability to influence the intensity, type and timing of one's emotions . That is, when we do our part to mitigate or intensify an emotion in terms of duration and intensity, or we cause it to derive in another intentionally, we are making use of emotional regulation.

In most cases it is understood that emotional regulation is focused on specific objectives, such as maintaining composure in a public appearance or not discouraged when experiencing difficulties in an exercise. That is why it is a skill related to Emotional Intelligence, a potentiality often ignored.


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The importance of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is a set of skills that have to do with the ability to adapt our thoughts and actions to the circumstances we live in such a way that this fit influences our emotional state. After all, if our emotions have an effect on the results we get in various facets of our lives, we are interested in being able to regulate them according to our interests .

On the other hand, Emotional Intelligence is a phenomenon studied relatively recently, since it departs from our traditional conception of what intelligence is. However, it is known that the mental processes related to emotional regulation are relatively independent of those that are responsible for performing cognitive tasks associated with "normal" intelligence.


So, those people who they do not just try to find answers by reason but they also learn to modulate their emotional state they have a much broader, richer and more effective repertoire of options to reach their goals.

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Some competences linked to emotional regulation

These are skills that are associated with emotional regulation, although none of them explains this phenomenon separately.

1. Ability to concentrate in the here and now

Much of the effectiveness of emotional regulation consists in perform a correct management of the attention focus . When it comes to experiencing emotions, it is very common for us to get carried away by feelings that refer to past moments, or even to take for granted the perspective of the future that is presented to us at that moment.

For example, before an offensive comment directed towards us we can think that we will never be socially accepted, or that we remember other past humiliations.

That's why it's important to be able to distance ourselves a bit from what happens and analyze the present from what happens in that context.

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2. Ability to recognize each emotion and its implications

Another competence linked to emotional regulation has to do with the ability we show when it comes to discriminating between emotions. In this way it is easier to predict what effects do these states have on the actions we are going to carry out? , and what can we expect from our behavior.

3. Tolerance before ambiguity

As much as we are good at differentiating between emotions, it is impossible to have a full understanding of what goes on in our minds. That is why the management of uncertainty It is as important as the management of the emotions on which it is based.

4. Mental agility

Emotional regulation continues to be a skill that it always applies to what is happening . That is why we must find what aspects of the context can be used to intervene on our emotions.

The simplest example is the possibility of using an elastic ball to exercise the muscles of the arm, or use a recording of environmental sounds to relax and escape for a moment. In fact, many of the most effective strategies to influence emotions are not related to tasks based on introspection, but rather to the interaction with the environment.

5. Ability to look for a positive reading of situations

Every event offers several interpretations, and many of them, in addition, have the peculiarity that they are reasonable, by adjusting well to reality .

Bearing in mind that there is never a single one of these readings whose superiority over others is evident, we have a margin of maneuver to base our experiences on those explanations that fit better our experiences and what we know about life.

6. Resilience

Resilience is the ability to overcome adversity, and that is why it is closely linked to emotional regulation. Be clear that behind the emotional regulation There is the objective of enjoying a better quality of life and a greater exposure to happiness leads us to improve ourselves.

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You aren't at the mercy of your emotions -- your brain creates them | Lisa Feldman Barrett (February 2023).


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