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November 27th, 2019
Emotional regulation is the key to getting yourself to do any of the grand, lofty or interesting things that you think about. But more on that later.
In the meantime, this is not an introduction, but just a few quick and dirty tricks that allow you to poke your own brain in the right spot with the right screwdriver in order to get things moving. This is not a full tool kit, but the sort of nail, hammer and saw that you give someone in shop class who wants to make a box. We aren’t building Noah’s arc here… at least not yet.
We often don’t feel like doing the things that we know we should do. This insanely frustrating little paradox is at the heart of emotional regulation, and in order to move this boulder of an issue, some blunt tactics can do wonders.
Think of the situation when you’re feeling low-energy and your down in the dumps. Then someone comes into the room all excited and wants to put loud music on and celebrate, and the reaction of your whole being is “I can’t deal with this right now.”
This is the sort of blunt rudeness that often pays to apply to one’s self.
Feeling down. Listen to you favorite up-beat music on full blast and see if you don’t start feeling better.
Doing this in public or with roommates or family members around can be unproductively painful, but as an experiment in solitude, it can be a revelation to think back on the state of one’s mind 15 minutes or half an hour in the past and realize that things feel better.
If this happens, it’s called a state change.
And we can push them to happen by manipulating external influences. Think of a massage, and how it’s pretty difficult to feel miserable after a good one.
Running around the block when angry or low energy can bring us back to more productive and safer baseline.
Even writing an angry letter and throwing it away is an effective tool for managing dangerous emotions that are prone to damage relationships.
Notice how all of these suggestions are either using the body in some way or manipulating our external circumstance in order to achieve an internal change.
This is our first point of entry into regulating our emotions so that we behave in ways that are ultimately more beneficial to future versions of ourselves.
As we gain proficiency and understanding, our abilities move from the external, to the internal where it’s possible to regulate emotions directly using our thoughts, but for those who can look at their past whether near or long term and see a trend of emotion-fueled mistakes, the sorts of blunt tools described here can be an invaluable first step.
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