To have emotional wellness, is to have the ability to understand ourselves and to cope with life’s challenges. It’s the ability to openly share feelings of love, hope, and joy, as well as stress, sadness, and anger in a productive way. Thus, emotional wellness means that you have the ability to accept, rather than deny, how you and others feel. With emotional wellness, you are also able to enjoy life despite all the struggles and disappointments.
Lack of Emotional Wellness
If you lack emotional wellness, it typically shows up as unstable emotions meaning that you have a difficult time regulating your emotions. To regulate means that you have the ability to calm yourself down when you’re angry, for example, and bring yourself up when you are sad. If you are having trouble controlling your anger, you lack self-regulation and emotional wellness. The same goes with coping with other people’s emotions. If you cannot deal with other people’s strong emotions in a calm regulated manner, and, instead, lash out at them, then you lack emotional wellness as well.
Emotional Regulation Learned In Infancy
Don’t go crazy blaming yourself if you cannot regulate your emotions. You can still learn how to. Be happy you made it to this blog post. Emotional regulation actually should have been developed in infancy. For example, infants rely on their mothers or caregivers to help them regulate their emotions. When an infant is in distress (e.g. hungry or soiled), the mother comforts and soothes (e.g. regulates emotion) the infant because an infant hasn’t learned to self-soothe quite yet. Infants rely on a mother or caregiver to help them learn this skill. Over time, and with mom’s consistent attentiveness, the child learns to soothe themselves.
Reasons to Emotional Dysregulation
There are many reasons why you may not have learned how to regulate your emotions which is causing you much distress today. If you haven’t been taught the skill, your emotions would be up, down and all around, very intense and erratic. For instance, you may experience angry outbursts such as throwing and destroying things. You may also experience aggression towards self or others. Self-harm, addictions, and eating disorders are all part of emotional dysregulation. I recall from my past academic studies that emotional dysregulation may be correlated with childhood psychological trauma, neglect, abuse, or brain injury, and it is also found in many personality disorders.
Emotional Regulation Skills
So, now you ask how can I create these skills to regulate my emotions to gain peace of mind, improve relationships, and create some happiness. The first thing you need to do is to create awareness to what emotion you are feeling. You need to identify the emotion. Is it jealousy, anger, or shame, for instance. Then try to label the emotion. When you’ve never learned to self-soothe, you can’t relate to what you are feeling. I found this practiced skill to be challenging. My vocabulary for emotions and feelings was very limited. To help you out, Google an emotion wheel to get to know the extensive list of emotions and feelings. It can help you identify what’s going on in your body. Next, you need to breath deeply and sit with your emotion. Sit with it, feel it, but do NOT respond to it. Learn to tolerate the awkward feelings running through your body, and understand that this feeling will eventually pass.
There are many more skills you can learn to manage your emotions, but this is a very good start. The process in learning how to master (or regulate) your emotions takes time, it takes consistent effort, and it takes self-compassion and self-forgiveness when you do falter. It’s like any other habit you want to change. Be persistent and eventually you will see the change.