Emotional self-regulation: Emotions, beautiful emotions.

Some of the first things that we are taught in school are numbers, letters, colors, shapes, etc; I wish they had also taught me about my emotions. If from a young age we were taught about self-control and self-regulation, as adults we would be more emotionally intelligent. When we are kids and we fall or cry, the general response is: “It’s okay, don’t cry” “you’re too old to cry” and to boys, you usually hear, “boys don’t cry”, that’s for girls” etc … every time we came into contact with emotion we stopped and correct us. We grow without being in contact with them our emotions. We just know about happiness and that’s okay to experience it, but at the same time, we don’t even know what makes us happy.

Primarily, to talk about emotions we should stop saying that some are good and others are bad, or that some are positive and the other negative. I would change these terms to address them as pleasant and unpleasant. You will understand why. 

The basic emotions are fear, joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and surprise. These emotions, if we know how to identify them, each one tells us how we are feeling and gives us clues on what we can do and how we can act upon them. For example, fear, those who say that it is a negative emotion, I tell you that it is very important. Thanks to fear we know when we are in danger. If it weren’t for fear, they put a lion in front of us and we wouldn’t run away, and the lion would eat us. This example can be applied to every situation in our lives where emotions guide us on how to act.

Know the difference between anger and sadness, two emotions that are often intertwined, and that by knowing their difference we can manage them better. Both are part of our basic emotions, but they fulfill a different mission. What happens is that when we experience them we do not stop to sense them and identify what it is, why we are really experiencing it. Has it never happened to you that you wake up upset, but you really don’t understand why? That emotion is there to tell you something, to warn you, to be cautious.

What would happen if when we began to identify them in our body and our mind the signs of anger, and with this to be able to regulate ourselves from the first moment? It would be great, especially for those people who have a harder time when experiencing anger, they could be regulated without the need to explode. 

Anger is an emotion that comes with a special energy charge, causing in most cases to have a negative consequence in our life. It is an emotion that is difficult to manage and leads us to impulsiveness. What happens when we don’t manage sadness well? This can be confused with anger.

There are several ways that from childhood we can start being aware of them. In school we can be taught identify emotions. See how each emotion comes with one or more thoughts and with them the physiological response manifested in our body. By identifying that this emotion is with us that day, we could be taught on how to regulate ourselves. Self-regulation is very important because even joy we must regulate it, not because it is a pleasant emotion it is not good to experience it in an extreme way, this can be denominated as euphoria.  

After regulating ourselves, I consider that a part that is important in terms of our emotions is often having the ability to assertively communicate what we are feeling, thinking or living. Not because emotion is unpleasant is it bad to share what you are feeling. If a person has caused you pain, it is essential to be able to communicate what bothered you and hurt you. There will always be ways to communicate without the need to bring or cause conflict.

Changing the phrases, we use to “calm” people, that what we are really doing is invalidating them. Allow a person to want to express what he feels from an early age, to say without fear of rejection.

Allow them to cry. Do not stop the tears or crying of a person. Normalize tears, crying relieves, liberates. Crying uncovers what we have plugged inside. In moderation, helps to get in touch with our emotions. Wanting to cry is a sign that some emotion is speaking to you and wants to tell you something.

Connecting with our emotions opens an immense world of self-knowledge essential to living a more peaceful and bearable life. Know ourselves, connect with what makes us good and what does us bad. By connecting with them, we seek those resources that each person has to regulate themselves. Each person is different, there are people who meditate to regulate, others do yoga or exercise. Everyone has a box full of tools that help you self-regulate and channel all those emotions that you´re experiencing.  

There’re some resources that you can apply at the moment in circumstances when you can’t do any of the other activities that help you. Here are technics that are very useful for situations that come up in your day and that need some efficient and quick action. Some of them might be, having a glass of water, taking deep breaths, count from one to ten, etc. 

Ask yourself which are those physiological signs you’re experiencing before noticing you’re going through a certain emotion. Some might be your heart rate accelerating, your body sweating, that you’re shaking, or even those thoughts that you start having repeated over and over in your mind. All of these physical signs are there to let you know that something internally is happening to you. 

Let yourself feel the emotion and experience whatever is that you’re feeling, in order to identify them. Stop and listen to what this emotion has to tell you. Look for the resources that help you channel t, and look for the tools to self-regulate. Let yourself express that emotion. Last, but not least, think about what that emotion has taught you that day, what was its mission. Once we start perceiving which are their missions we start bringing them to conscience on how to manage them and what they come to tell us.   


Maria Lucia Pardo Psicóloga

My name is Maria Lucia and I am a psychologist. I’m passionate about psychology because of what it has taught me and keeps continuously teaching me. Throughout my experience and education, I’ve had, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help those who are in search of an emotional balance. I completely trust the huge importance of knowing more about emotions and the impact that it has on permitting yourself to feel them. You can follow my work on Instagram at @tubalance.emocional