We usually associate emotional regulation with our ability to control anger. We are challenged every day - at home, in the classroom, even driving. But by being mindful, and aware of our circle of control, we manage our own emotions.
There are many tools to help:
• ’Pause, Breathe, and Smile’ - or try a similar mindful-moment practice to quiet your over-active amygdala.
• Cultivate an optimistic outlook where setbacks are inevitable, yet temporary. This is better than catastrophising events.
• Maintain a reasonable perspective.
• Tolerating others’ strong emotions is about our own regulation. It is not about getting angry or overwhelmed, but also not allowing ourselves to be abused.
• Tolerating confrontation and strong emotions allows us to step up and say what we need to say. To do otherwise would be to avoid them - walking on eggshells, trying to make others happy as a way of managing our anxiety.
The skill is calming our own anxiety and mentally realising that others’ reactions and problems are not our own.
• Admitting mistakes means admitting them to ourselves and others.
• By doing this we move away from a sense of entitlement and grandiosity, and thus to be more considerate of the mistakes of others.
• Admitting mistakes is to show humility and humanness.
Mistakes are mistakes, not character defects. They do not deserve punishment, or the punishment of others.
• Not to be confused with truth, which is about facts and evidence, Honesty is about emotion- saying what is in our hearts in the moment.
• This can change over time, but requires that we know what we think and feel, and then have the courage to state it.
• For some, the knowing is the obstacle; for others it is the fear of confrontation.
The skill is slowing down and asking what it is we truly think and feel, and then stepping up and saying it.
• We all have anxiety - but we can avoid it: accommodate, shut down, or block out.
• We can bind it - keep the feeling at bay, by staying in a small world that never lets anxiety in….or, we can approach it.
• Approaching anxiety allows us to expand our world and ourselves. By taking responsible risks, we bring intimacy into relationships and we discover what we do not yet fully know.
The skill is to take small steps to move outside our comfort zones:
• Desensitize yourself to the feeling of anxiety - it gets easier with practice.
• As it gets easier, we become braver - we expand.
• The antidote to anxiety is learning to run toward what we fear.
Ask for Help and Support
• Independence is often seen as a sign of maturity and being grown-up. However, asking for help, or working inter-dependently, does not diminish power, but rather allows us to grow and work together more effectively.
• Some of us have learned to not trust or lean on anyone. This leads to a lose of both the comfort of relationships and of self-expansion.
• It is easy to be reactive, to be always responding to whatever is coming at us, or to go on autopilot and just do what we do and not be awake.
• Being proactive is being deliberate, conscious and shaping what we decide, what we want.
• It’s about running our life, rather than bouncing off others, or even side-stepping them.
The skill here is to ﬁrst step back and look at what we are doing and why we are doing it. Then make decisions - about what we want to keep and what we want to change.
Live By Your Values
• What is your vision of who and what you want to be?
• What do you value in life?
• What you value in life is being an adult, because it enables us to step away from the ‘shoulds’ that we received from our parents.
• It helps us to step away from the looming shadow of our past and its guilt, and enables us to sidestep appeasing others in the present.
What does it mean to be a grown-up, an adult, or ‘mature’? It's not just holding down a job or paying bills on time - it's the way you run your life, yourself and your relationships.
Eight inter-related elements help us be mindful of our emotional states, the temperament we were born with, the personality we have inherited and most importantly the skills we learn and reﬁne as we grow.