If You Are Having Trouble Regulating Your Emotions, Try This

Become aware of having an intense inner state.

Activate self-kindness and self-efficacy. Think, “I am going to help myself with this.”

Adjust the intensity of one's inner state

Name the primary feeling(s). Activate executive functioning structures and functions in your brain.

Primary feelings are natural feelings that go along with being human and happen automatically without thought: mad, sad, glad, afraid, surprised, disgusted, alarmed (includes fight-flight-freeze response).

Name the secondary feeling(s).

Secondary feelings happen as a result of thoughts – often thoughts that are opinions, beliefs, or rules – that cause feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, self-blame, mistaken other-blame, regret, rage, panic, dread, despair, nostalgia, jealousy, righteousness, vengeance, and “ideations,” i.e. intrusive thoughts or fantasies of harm to self or others.

Ask yourself, “What thoughts caused these secondary feelings?”

Ask yourself, “What happened that activated this feelings-thoughts pairing?”

Ask yourself, “What are the facts about this trifecta of events, feelings, and thoughts?”

Think, “Given this data, what are my options to supportively and realistically help myself with this?”

Options come from:

The content of this post is intended to serve as text to copy and paste into a document to tape to the refrigerator or into the notes feature on a phone for easy reference. Plain language is used with a minimum of clinical terms. Clinical terms are linked to further explanations.

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The content of this post is informed by Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Positive Psychology, and other work. it was synthesized and compiled by Anne Giles, M.A., M.S., L.P.C.

This content is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional advice. Consult a qualified health care professional for personalized medical and professional advice.