Emotional Regulation

“E” is today’s letter. “E” is for Emotional Regulation.

Emotional regulation was something I learned from a therapy session. The theory behind it is that feelings, behaviour and thoughts all influence each other. Feelings and thoughts come more automatically compared to behaviour. Essentially you are trying to modify your negative thoughts and feelings by behaving contrary to them.

Seriously!? Act opposite? It sounded like fromage (cheese) to me! I was told I don’t need to mask the emotion, that I should accept it and feel it, but my actions should reflect the opposite. This immediately came to mind…..

So this was my task, acting opposite….and because I’m a good little girl who does her homework, I gave it a try. I used my usual scenario, getting out of bed in the morning. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to get out of bed. Bed is cozy and warm and I’m safe from people and their opinions. If I get out of bed, I have to eat, get dressed, go to work. This, of course, requires energy that I do not have. Then, the thought of work starts to give me anxiety as I think about all the things that could go wrong and all the mistakes I could make and how that’s going to make me look. That gets me thinking about what other people think of me, then I just start hating myself. This cycle is what goes through my head every morning.

What would happen if I stayed in bed? I’d get to stay warm and cozy, my anxiety over work would lift and I wouldn’t have to spend any energy. So far, sounds good. That only lasts for a moment though. My anxiety is replaced by guilt for not getting up and doing what the average person does every day. This must mean I am lazy. I don’t want to be considered lazy, so I start hating myself and worrying about what people think again. On top of this, since I’ve elected to stay in bed, I’m alone with my self-loathing thoughts all day.

What if I got out of bed? I wake up, I feel like hell. Yes, I am depressed and have no energy, but instead of dwelling on that, I’m going to get up. Getting up is followed by the routine of getting ready to leave the house…breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, hair, make-up, pack a bag….before you know it, I am out the door without having started my cycle of dread. Huh. It worked!

By getting out of bed right away and starting my routine, I distracted myself from my negative thoughts and prevented that self-loathing feeling. I was still depressed, but I was functioning and I got to skip that whole part about dreading the day and hating myself. There are positives to this technique.


22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Charlotte Comley
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 08:13:07

    Fabulous post this morning


  2. C.E. Darrell
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 08:23:19

    Oh lovely lady, I’m so sorry that you went through that every. single. day. It sounds like the most vicious cycle, and I can’t even imagine those thoughts coming into my head before even getting out of bed! I think you should rename this post ‘Extensively Inspiring’, because I think it’s absolutely so brave of you to not only form and regulate your routine, but keep to it. Sometimes that’s the hardest part!

    Keep at it, and remember that every day is another victory! 🙂


  3. SittieCates
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 09:37:55

    That’s a good way to keep yourself on the positive side of things. Happy weekend!


  4. RZT
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 12:26:16

    I am helping back stage on the A to Z and visiting many many blogs. I hope you get to feel better soon. I will say that you have a lovely looking blog.

    I wish you well and hope your journey to Z goes as planned.

    Good Luck
    Rob Z Tobor


  5. liane {meraki geek}
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 12:39:32

    Very interesting. I guess I never really thought about changing emotions via changing behavior. I always think about it the opposite way (changing behavior by changing my thinking first). Sounds like the exercise effect…don’t wanna exercise but make yourself, then feel emotionally/mentally amazing.


  6. FL Jones
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 13:47:47

    I set an alarm to get up in the dark every morning. I never stay in bed, I never take naps in there, I never stay in there and sleep in. I’m pretty much on autopilot, and it’s turned into a good thing. I don’t suffer depression in the same way as others anymore, I don’t think. I never have the urge to go back to bed, or sleep even if my meds make me a bit sleepy. I’ve decided that I have reverse SAD, so this is going to be a problem… I enjoy early mornings alone, and this is the only time I can get out of the house alone – in the dark.


    • somberscribbler
      Apr 05, 2014 @ 14:20:28

      It’s good that you aren’t stuck in bed like so many people are. Reverse SAD doesn’t sound any good though. I enjoy early mornings alone too (only when I don’t have to go to work). Is there anything else you enjoy? Maybe having something else to look forward to would help you feel more. I draw. Even if it’s negative drawings, it still helps.


  7. nembow
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 17:14:06

    I’m finding your blog so interesting … and helpful. Distracting myself from negative thoughts is something I’ve only recently consciously done, but it’s made a massive impact on my wellbeing. Thank you for sharing. x


  8. Tammy J Rizzo
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 18:09:59

    Hi, Scribbler! This was an excellent post. I’ve never heard of this technique before, but it makes perfect sense. It seems to be along the lines of ‘fake it ’til you make it’, am I right? I know that how we position ourselves, physically, can influence how we feel emotionally. For instance, when you frown, your emotions get darker and more drawn in, but when you make your face smile, you can’t help but feel lighter, more open, and more happy, because the facial nerves and muscles actually affect the hormone levels, or some such like that. I should google that.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this post, and thank you so much for sharing it with us!


  9. kristen valentine
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 21:26:03

    Great post. Sometimes tricking the brain is all it takes.


  10. amber dawn pullin (@goldmourn)
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 22:33:52

    Thank you for stopping by my online journal for my D entry today!

    I was happily surprised to take a peek at your E entry (we will be covering emotional regulation in group therapy – D.B.T. – and I’ve taken it before so I recognized the term!) and then I saw your other entries and thought, hey, I can relate to this!

    I love your drawings & it’s great to read your perspective.


  11. developerpodcast
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 05:44:38

    Interesting idea of taking control of one’s day.

    Thx for stopping by.

    Keeping it simple.


  12. glitterwriter
    Apr 07, 2014 @ 13:50:06

    Terrific post and something I can relate to on two levels – I also have depression, plus I’m not a Morning Person. Keep up the great work with the A to Z Challenge.
    Maryjane 🙂


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