Emotional Regulation – How we control and regulate our emotions

Sarah Briggs – Director Share

Emotional regulation is a skill that we all need to have in order to navigate the challenges and obstacles that life can throw at us. Being able to emotionally regulate is essentially the ability to manage your own emotional state. That could be something as simple as choosing to focus on reasons to feel happy and calm or opting to rethink a challenging situation. We all approach this in different ways – and require different solutions – below is some of the foundation knowledge of how we control and regulate our emotions.

The importance of emotional regulation

Although we accept emotional outbursts in children, we are much less likely to tolerate this once someone reaches adulthood. Perceptions of what is socially acceptable can be limiting and damaging but for your own positive mental health, and to enable you to build relationships with the people you value, you must be able to deal with emotions like anger and anxiety. We all experience challenging feelings, from disappointment to anger and frustration but not having any control over these can leave you isolated and mean you miss out on opportunities in life.


This is one of the primary tools in emotional regulation and involves reducing the intensity of emotions. For example, someone who is struggling with grief may recall a humorous moment and allow a positive emotion to bubble up as a result. Down-regulation is not suppressing emotions or denying that they exist. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions is an essential part of emotional regulation, it’s not about ignoring them or escaping them. The flip side to this is up-regulation, where emotions are ramped up in a situation that requires that, for example where there is imminent danger.

Controlling emotional outbursts

If you have not been modeled a healthy way of handling your emotions in childhood then it’s likely that you may find yourself as an adult without the tools to manage something like an emotional outburst. Working with a therapist can be a vital process in terms of working out why you find yourself like this and how to start changing the situation. There are also many other techniques that you can use to help better manage intense emotions, such as mindful acceptance of emotions, reframing a situation that is causing you to feel something intensely, and shifting your attention away from the source of the negative emotions that you’re feeling.

Why do we find it difficult to manage our emotions?

We are all different – for some people there may be a mental health disorder, such as borderline personality disorder or depression, behind a reaction. We can also approach a situation with a variety of limiting beliefs about emotion, such as feeling like it’s just not possible to control anger, and some situations can make difficult emotions feel overwhelming and impossible to manage.

Controlling and regulating our emotions is something that can make our lives easier to navigate – it’s a skill that many people pick up in adulthood and one that a good therapist can help you to explore.

The Grove has a strong reputation for running high-quality Emotional Regulation Courses, many of which are externally accredited. Our CPD programme is expanding in 2022 with more courses and more intakes, giving more choice and opportunity to learn from the experts from our centre of excellence.

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