Have you ever felt like a child, experiencing emotions that seemed out of place for your age? Or have you been on the receiving end of someone who made you feel like a child in one way or another? Perhaps this person is acting as if they are still a kid. Learning to regulate your emotions as an adult is important because it allows you to communicate effectively with other adults and take care of yourself in healthy ways. Emotional regulation is an important skill, and everyone should learn this skill, regardless of their age.
Did You Receive These Tools as a Child?
If you are an adult who is aware of your emotions and able to manage them, then you’re likely someone who received the tools to develop this skill as a child. However, you may find yourself struggling with managing your emotions in situations where it would be helpful for your mental health, relationships, and career. This is because emotional regulation is something that needs to be learned.
An important thing to remember about emotional regulation is that it does not mean suppressing or repressing emotion. Emotional regulation allows you to manage your emotions in healthy ways. By doing this, you can function in daily life effectively and with minimal stress on yourself or others around you.
Developing Emotional Regulation Is a Journey
Learning to regulate your emotions is a lifelong journey. You can’t expect that you will be able to master them in one week or even one year. It may take years for you to develop good skills. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late for you to learn how to control your emotions and reactions better.
Emotional regulation is something we learn early on in life but don’t have much practice with as adults. As children, most of the time, we are taught by our parents how to manage our feelings. This way, we can respond appropriately when we get upset or excited. However, as adults, it becomes more difficult; no one is telling us what “appropriate” means anymore.
The good news is that emotional regulation skills can undoubtedly be learned as an adult. There are many resources available (like books) that teach these skills and also provide tools. By using these resources, applying emotional regulation becomes easier over time.
Being Aware Is a Great Place to Start
Knowing the importance of these skills and identifying your problem areas is a great start. However, if you’re like most people, the first question on your mind is probably, “How do I learn this stuff?” Fortunately, there are many different ways to develop emotional regulation skills.
The easiest way is by using thought records (also called “thought diaries”). Thought records involve writing down what happened in an event and then identifying any emotions that were triggered by that event. For example, when you are upset, try writing down what the situation is and why you are upset.
Writing down these thoughts helps you see patterns in your own thinking about events. It gives you insight into how you react emotionally when things don’t go your way or turn out according to plan.
It’s Never Too Late to Develop Emotional Regulation
There is never a wrong time to start developing emotional regulation skills. Emotional regulation is a lifelong process. The ability to recognize your own emotions, accurately label them, and be aware of how they affect your behavior can be learned at any age. There are many things adults can do that will help improve their self-regulation skills, including the following:
- Try mindful breathing when you’re feeling stressed out or anxious. It’s a simple technique that helps you slow down your mind so you can think more clearly about what you’re feeling.
- If you notice yourself getting upset with someone else for an unexpected reason, try recognizing the underlying emotion behind the behavior (especially anger) before reacting impulsively in response to them. While it might not always work at first, this can help habituate positive behaviors into your daily life over time.
Finding the Necessary Resources
There are many free resources available online to help you learn how to manage your emotions. One tool that can be helpful is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is a practice used in many different cultures, and it refers to being aware of the present moment without judgment or emotion.
With mindfulness meditation, you teach yourself how to release negative emotions, slow down racing thoughts, and calm your mind and body. Different techniques can be used to achieve mindfulness, many of which can be found online.
There are also many other resources online that can help with emotional regulation, such as apps and websites that offer guided meditations and breathing exercises for relaxation purposes. These tools may seem foreign at first, but giving them a try can help you achieve emotional regulation.
Emotional regulation is a lifelong process. It’s not something you can just “get over” once you reach adulthood. Instead, it’s a set of tools that you can use to manage your emotions in any situation. You can start today by reading about why this skill is important and identifying your own problem areas. If you are struggling with mental health and emotional regulation, Acera Health is here to help. Our evidence-based treatment approaches used in our various levels of care, including residential treatment and outpatient settings, can help you develop the skills you need to thrive. For more information on our program and how we can help you, call us today at (949) 647-4090.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.