Learning Emotional Regulation Skills
Over the last six to eight weeks at Sunrise, we have been learning and practicing a core DBT principle, emotion regulation. These skills focus on increasing our understanding of what emotions do for us. This helps reduce our emotional vulnerability, decrease the frequency of unwanted emotions, and decrease our emotional suffering. By learning skills to address each goal we learn not only to regulate our emotions, but important ways to understand and harness our emotions to live full and enriching lives.
One of the most important lessons in the module is learning to understand and experience our emotions and to be mindful of them.
What do emotions do for us?
They give us information and a signal that something is going on. It is important to remember that emotions are not facts. “I Love him/her so they must be good for me”, “I’m afraid, so I am in danger.”
Emotions also can communicate and influence others. Our emotions send signals to others and help guide and direct our interactions. They also influence how others approach and respond to us and how we respond to them. Emotions are the very first way we began to communicate and bond with one another. An example of what we would be like without emotions would be reptiles, they do not have an emotional brain and feel no emotions hence they eat their young etc.
Emotions Motivate and prepare for action, they give us the energy to act.
Practicing Emotional Regulation Skills
To practice beginning to understand and experience emotions take a minute and try the following mindfulness practice. Take a minute or two everyday and tune into your emotions in the moment. As I have practiced this and observed this practice I have found that when I slow down to listen, experience and focus on my emotions, I experience more clarity about the current moment. My emotions drive me less and I am better able to focus on what needs to be done or what is most effective in the moment. I have also noticed that at times paying attention to the emotion decreases the intensity of it, and at times it increases the intensity, but most importantly they always come and go. So take the challenge and see what you find.
By Craig Simpson, Executive Clinical Director at Sunrise Residential Treatment Center