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.


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