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Ep. 86 Emotional Regulation

by Claudine Sweeney
July 21st 2021

How do I regulate or manage my emotions? This is a very common question yet oftentimes we don't believe we actually can. The truth is we CAN be more in control of our emotions. That's right! And it... More

This is episode 86 emotional regulation. You're listening to the Rise Up and Shine podcast with Claudine and Ashley as an empty nester and a mom with young kids. We have both shared very similar and very real struggles from chaos to coaches. We now help other women live an authentic and meaningful life. So tune in weekly for girl talk and tips on how you too can rise up and let your light shine bright. This is the Rise Up and Shine podcast. Yeah. Welcome back everyone to another episode here on the Rise Up and Shine podcast. Today we are talking about emotions something we all have. Yes, we all have them yet interesting. Uh interestingly enough we all tend to try to avoid some of these emotions that we have and claudia and I have really learned a lot over the last several years of how important it is to be aware of our emotions and how easy it is to let our emotions basically dictate our behaviors and run our lives and really really impacts our relationships and our well being.

So today we want to talk specifically about emotional regulation and what it is, why it's important to regulate our emotions and the practical that we have to be able to do that because we want to be emotionally resilient, right? We've all heard of emotional resiliency emotional intelligence. Well the root of this, the Foundation is emotional regulation. So we're going to start off by giving the definition of what is emotional regulation. How do we regulate? What does it mean? So the definition is the ability to regulate or manage our emotions, right? So we are in control of our emotions instead of our emotions being in control of us because that's what gets us in trouble when our emotions are controlling us being in the driver's seat, right? Our emotional life. Right? And why is it important? It's important because our emotions drive our actions or behaviors in our actions direct our results. So if you have results in your life that you don't want, it might be tied to some actions that you're taking or not taking which are again stimulated by our emotions.

So it's really important to learn how to manage. Direct be in the driver's seat of our emotions. Um yeah. You know I think most of us don't realize how we just live on autopilot. Yeah. You know in our emotional life like we just go through life. I know for myself I was just going through life and I would try to avoid a lot of the emotional response or emotional distress I would feel in life obviously not the positive ones. I feel positive emotions all day long but I was striving so hard to feel more of the positive emotions and ignore or deny or completely suppressed the negative emotions which got me in a very bad place, very depressed. A lot of anxiety and I can feel it's been a while since I've struggled with depression. Thank the Lord. But anxiety will still rear its head. Anxiety is a bit harder for me to manage. But I recognize it's because I get to a place where I have fallen back on autopilot, not managing my emotions and allowing myself to process or identify even what I'm feeling, what's going on.

And again, we'll talk more about this in depth, but it will lead me to start feeling anxiety and the anxiety is the messenger varieties, the message saying, hey, something's going on, something's going on. And at that point I realize it's more challenging to regulate my emotions and even my thoughts because everything feels like it's making me anxious. So it's hard to pick one, pick one thing. What do you think is making you anxious? I don't know because everything is making me, but it's basically the state of being where I am now because I did not start with the emotional regulation. I kind of fell off the wagon, so to speak. So well. A couple of things you've said that really hit home with me. One is um that when you would feel that you would just kind of freeze or avoid. I'm the opposite. When I felt a strong quote unquote negative emotion, I react so I didn't have the ability to control my reactions. So I learned in my twenties I would react a lot to my husband and even those close to me in anger.

But I really had a wiser older woman that helped coach me through that what I was really feeling was hurt. But of course over the decades and certainly over the last few years I've learned how to communicate which was going to be an upcoming topic. Press, we're going to discuss, communicating with our loved ones and ways to get the results we want because we're all communicating with our loved ones one way or another. But it doesn't always get us the results we want. So we'll be talking about that at a different time. But again, it's so important to regulate our emotions because we really do. We want to rise up and shine right? And how can we rise up and shine in this life if we cannot even manage our own emotions. And the other thing you said is, I don't know what it made me think of what you said, but all emotions are part of the human experience, right? There's no good emotions are bad emotions are all part of it and we just need to emotions, all of them all emotions. Oh, I know what it was you said that um what the thing with the emotions that it helps us become aware of something, maybe it's something that is hurting our feelings or something that we feel stuck in or depressed about are anxious about emotions are here to help us are messengers.

That's what it was their messengers. And it's giving us a message when we understand that there is no negative or bad emotion. We just realize their messengers and it's giving us some awareness of our circumstance, that maybe we need to make some changes or grow in an area or just become aware of something. They're messengers. Yeah. And emotion is just an emotion. That's it, right? You know, we put on such meaning to it, but partially because we've been trained and taught that unfortunately it's inaccurate. You know, it's not like, oh, don't be angry, anger is bad, but don't be sad, sadness is bad, you know? And yes, they some we would rather feel more of those positive emotions, right? Versus those negative emotions, but it's not good or bad. And so then we can attach shame. If we feel anger, then we start feeling shame too, because I shouldn't feel angry or then if you're angry and then you behave a certain way that's inappropriate or hurtful to another, then you feel shame for that behavior. So it doesn't help you. Doesn't help the relationship for your well being and your life.

But it's just an emotion is an emotion. And I think I have really learned there's so much more by even teaching it being an intentional to teach it to my Children and how for them to feel their emotions to allow them to feel emotions because what happened to many of us, older ladies that we weren't taught necessarily that it's okay to feel our emotions and even let alone express our emotions, right? So it was we need to just keep it all to ourselves and just keep moving on and it causes a lot of emotional stress. It causes a lot of physical stress on our bodies and can be contributing factors to a lot of diseases out there. Um, but being able to feel our emotions and express them. That's what we're talking about here. That's what we need to learn that skill to be able to do that, to be more emotionally resilient. And you know, it's again, a starting place is just recognizing it's okay to feel what you're feeling because we can shame ourselves.

We can fear the judgment of someone else. They're going to criticize me for feeling this way. But an emotion is an emotion. We all have them and just accepting that in the beginning. And that's a first step, right? And again, we're going to get into practical is a little bit later. But just realizing it's not a good or bad thing, it just is, it's the meaning that we attach to it. That's really the determining factor here. Exactly. And I look at emotions as waves. I mean, they kind of wash over you. I think we I think that if I allow myself to feel angry, if I allow myself to feel sad or frustrated That we're going to get stuck there and that's why we're doing this episode because we don't have to stay stuck and we don't have to sin when we feel an emotion like anger. I mean Ephesians four says in your anger do not send, it doesn't say don't be angry. She says in your anger Do not sin. That was so powerful for me years ago when I really understood. Wait, it's okay to be angry.

But how do I react? Can I manage my emotions so that my behavior isn't sinful. The emotion itself is fine. There's nothing wrong with feeling angry. Usually it shows that some boundary or some expectation has been violated or trespassed again, boundaries boundaries and we even cross our own boundaries, which can also feel frustration. Why do I do what I don't want to do and don't do what I want to do. That's a whole other episodes we have talked about with all we have wise words, but even understanding that an emotion will pass through us or over us like a wave. You know when I'm in the ocean, we recently in Mexico when I was in the ocean, I actually went in the water, which I don't like doing because I now have fears of jellyfish and sharks. Really? Yes, I know about its recent only the last probably decades for many decades. I love the ocean. But now I'm like terrified and I have a fear of whales in case you're wondering whales, Those don't, those don't make me fearful. They don't come that close to shore.

So I'm okay. But sharks now come all the way in like two ft of water and jellyfish anyway. So I had promised my husband that I would go in the water with him at least once because he's in the water to three times a day. So I went in, I was like, and I, you know, mostly hung on him. So I thought, well if a shark comes me, I have a great vision. Maybe say honey, you saved me. I'm like, maybe they'll get his feet or the jellyfish will get him. Anyway, I went in the water and when the waves were coming, it's not like I could say stop wave and put my hand up so I can't stop the wave. I just had to write it or if it was going to crash on me go under it. But usually just write it and it passes. And that's such a visual reminder for me when I'm feeling an emotion that I don't want to say stuck in. It's like this will pass. It's the thoughts we have right before them that precipitate them and the thoughts we continue to have now about the situation or our emotion that make these um emotions, we don't want to feel stay longer.

Yeah, they just passed like a wave. I mean you're feeling, I feel sadness at times, like really sad about certain things and I just sit there and I let it wash over me. I feel sad right now. It's a bummer. That's true. But I've learned so much from it. Didn't we just do something, wasn't there? Did we just do an episode on the Gift of anger? Yes. Yes, we sure did. There's give free. Yeah, it was pretty recent. I don't know how good you've got a lot of stress going, a lot of stress anyway, but I've been regulating my emotions. Excellent. Excellent. So anyway, that's that's my two cents on the waves of emotion. Let them pass my friends, let them pass. And it's very true because we do have this misinterpretation that if we feel these emotions allow ourselves to feel it, then we're going to be stuck in that we're going to feel it longer. But keep in mind a lot of our emotional responses are also triggered by memories and our imagination. So what happens nowadays is we tend to live too often in the what ifs and worry and fear.

And we also tend to live in the past a lot, right? The past and the hurts that we've had a lot of times, even just I know in my own marriage we've struggled with living in the past and having to let go and forgive and have grace on each other and move forward that seems, you know, can be a constant battle, even in any kind of relationship, but we do we have to be aware of what's actual and what's imaginary. And so that is a really good start starting and the brain doesn't know the difference the brain does. If you're thinking about something in the past that was painful or hurtful. The brain believes it's in it again, reliving it in actuality. So the brain can't discern between a past experience and a present experience. When you're thinking about the experience, it's as if it's real and that's why we feel all the same emotions. The physiological responses were not living through it anymore, but reliving the memory actually does all the same damage to our emotions and our life as if we are going through it again.

And the physiological responses really briefly are increased heart rate, could be decreased heart rate, could be feeling sweaty like cold sweats, it could be shallow breathing, it could be a lot of different things. Is how our bodies and brains are wired by God to physiologically respond to a situation basically for survival. So, and that's very innate in all of us. But recognizing that and how um that's why let's go into the first practical. So the first practical is just to identify the emotion, right? And in order to identify the emotion, you have to pause, you have to stop and you have to even take a deep breath, right? So we're not quickly reacting as you mentioned as a counter attack, are you pause, be still breathe and just really assess the situation, right? Identify what am I feeling right now, What emotion am I feeling big one.

Big one. I didn't know what I was feeling in my twenties. I just knew I was feeling something not good like anger, irritation or frustration. I didn't know, oh, this is hurt, my feelings were hurt. I didn't even, no, it sounds so silly. I know, I know, but I didn't. Exactly. So one thing that again things I'm teaching my Children, I'm teaching myself also. So I have printed out different emotions for the kids and they make charts now for kids, They come up in schools so they can actually see and with the little emojis right? Like the faces, how am I really feeling? What's the emotion I'm experiencing right now? And if it helps you to print that out, print that out and you can have the emotions and you can identify, hey, I think I'm feeling this and this and this and a lot of times it's going to be multiple. Right? So that goes into a whole other topic. Yeah, we'll stick with the primary one. Exactly. So identifying the emotion is a huge first step. Yeah. And secondly, like you already said, assess the situation that triggered it. Is it an actual event going on right now?

A situation a circumstance, is it a memory? Really get in touch with what is provoking this emotion, What's uh, triggering it? And usually there's a thought or belief that you can find that it's like, oh, that's why I'm feeling this because you and I, you know, we can experience an event both of us at the same time and we're going to have different responses to it. Your thought about that event could be very different than my thought. I have my Children that are all adults now and it's funny because they'll talk about a certain situation or event and they have very different responses to it. You know, one of them will think that was hysterical, that was so much fun. The other is like, that was frustrating. I was annoyed the event was the exact same thing. Situation was the same as we always teach the situation. The event is neutral, but our thoughts about it, our beliefs that lie underneath it. Those are subjective, those are ours. So assess what is it that triggered this emotion. I have to wear an example for that.

Do you? I do, I don't think my husband will mind. So last week you and our spouses got together to talk and get some wonderful mentoring from you and there is a something that my husband brought up about our dog chewing on his backpack strap. Right? And so, and in his mind as he was communicating, he felt like he found out that I was keeping it from him. And then when I shared my side, I said, well you had just lost your phone. I didn't want to add more stress on to you when we're in the dead middle of our vacation and ruin your vacation because here's another bad thing and another bad thing and I was protecting you from another blow. You know? And so it's interesting because again, this is why we're going to do an episode on communication because the lack of communication there, he interpreted it one way like I'm purposely keeping something from him and I did essentially purposely keep something from him but with good intention not maliciously.

So it's really interesting because very similar right? The neutral event was the dog chewed a strap of his backpack and both the strap and but our interpretation the meaning we attached to it was very different and if we don't communicate than how it can cause you know, hardship and yeah, trouble Yeah. And another practical with emotional regulation is accepting the emotion without judgement because how often do we judge ourselves for feeling quote unquote negative emotion. You know, I shouldn't be angry and I've shared this before. You know, the bible teaches rejoice always. So then I felt a lot of guilt and a lot of shame every time I didn't feel joyful about every situation in my life I'm like, you know, I'm not feeling very joyful right now maybe if I was a better christian I would be able to feel joyful, I could resolutely walked to my hanging or death and be joyful. But meanwhile these little small irritations in life were stealing my joy. I was allowing them to our thinking that they were that it was a circumstance that was doing it to me, but just accept the emotion without judgment.

If you're feeling angry or frustrated or irritate or depressed or anxious, just accept it, don't judge it, just go, that's interesting. I feel anxious right now. I wonder why, which is kind of part of my other practical, which is get curious about it. Just be that's interesting. Why do I feel that? I haven't felt this before? I always feel that during this situation and it gives us so much insight into what makes us tick. And if we really want to live these great lives lives of abundance and um rise up and Shine, which is the title of our podcast. We really need to have a fair amount of self awareness, which I clearly didn't have any in my twenties, I don't think many 20 year olds or even my thirties And most of my 40s. So there you have it. Okay, yeah, But in my 20's it was distinct like I was completely clueless. Uh you know, that end of the spectrum now, I feel like I have a really good handle on myself, a good insight on what makes me tick. What upsets me, what brings me joy all that Well, I think actually being curious is kind of a fun part, you know, just you're learning yourself, you're learning yourself.

Like you said how you tick, right? Why do you respond these ways? Um why do you react these ways? What is I think one good question you and your husband asked us recently was what is our core at our core nature? That seems to kind of keep resurfacing in situations and we over the weekend we had those talks, you know, when there was something um that we need to talk about or something that was hurting us not necessarily with each other, but it could be in other relationships as well. It or decisions, we made behaviors. I would point out a lot, see there's my need for approval again, see there's my need for approval at the root of that, at the root of that, you know. And so it was so clear because I have learned to become aware of this. But in situations throughout the day, I mean it could be even if my kids are asking me to buy them something and I really wrestle with, oh I want them to approve of me. So I want to buy them something because then they love me and then I'm worthy. So the approval comes from a place of feeling unworthy.

So I feel this intense need to be approved of and attached to my value to it and that was on me, right? So I learned my value is just who I am, who God created me and just in him alone. That's it. That's it. That's it. I don't have to put so much pressure on myself to feel valued and loved and worthy by behaving a certain way, you know what I mean, That's so powerful. You just shared because it really is about getting to the root and sometimes that's why we need help, sometimes that's why we need coaching because we need help to get to the root cause otherwise I think of the weeds and if we keep mowing over them, keep coming back, because we never got to the route, we're just dealing with what you can see. We never get to the root and so powerful, understanding that approval is tied to worth getting to the root of it instead of constantly chopping it off, knowing it at the ground level, Really good thing, Good, good stuff, Ashley, thank you. And then goes into our next one is shifting perspective, right?

Rethinking the situation, rethinking what thoughts are coming up, they're going to come up and they're just automatic because our brain has been conditioned to believe certain things and we have very prominent thinking patterns that goes into the neural pathways that we've talked about many times here, but it will be hard to kind of combat some of those thoughts that just come up naturally. And so but it does, it takes time, it takes practice and I was thinking, as you said, share that scripture about, rejoice always, you know, it's not saying, feel joy, always and never feel any other emotion, It's saying rejoice. Practice rejoicing that's how I take it now. Because before I would take it like you like oh my gosh, I'm complaining and then I put shame on myself and then I feel guilty and I'm a horrible person because I'm just complaining and I'm not grateful for anything. We go there, we let ourselves think that. But if we realise practice, rejoicing practice gratitude, that's it's like when you're feeling in a slump then just start practicing it and it's a skill then you might not feel it, you're not going to necessarily feel grateful or joy right away.

But the more you do it then your heart, your emotions are going to follow suit and you're gonna be like, oh I'm starting to actually feel better. I'm starting to feel and behave as if I'm more grateful, right? So it is practicing those things and shifting your perspective. Yeah, shifting our perspectives is a big, big one. I mean, we have to reframe our thoughts, We have to shift the narrative, the story we're telling ourselves. We're not going to feel better if we keep having the same thoughts right? You know, and it's I think of that scripture, whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is trustworthy. Think about these things a lot of times, the thoughts we have aren't so pure, so noble or so trustworthy, right? Or praiseworthy, their true or true, none of it. I stopped there, That's true, that's true? I know, but it always feels true, Like we are feeling an emotion strongly? It is because we are convinced that what we believe is true, right? You don't feel something that strongly if you don't believe it's true, you're not going to get all emotionally invested on something that you think is false.

So obviously we think that are so true, So true, that is true, right? Because you're emotionally invested in this. But that's the thing. So our thoughts, we think our thoughts are the absolute truth when our thoughts are very subjective and create very subjective feelings and emotions but we think it's the truth and so sometimes we have to, that's where we need help talking with a trusted friend and counselor, a coach is so helpful because we can we can kind of um lay out our our thoughts and and maybe have someone help us shift that perspective because I know sometimes I've needed help. Like I am so stuck or my neural pathways are so developed in that area. There are deep, deep, deep ruts, then I need someone to help me maybe create a new thought or created new perspective or think things that I wouldn't have thought for before and also help you identify those patterns because sometimes we don't we don't see the underlying belief that is in so many different situations and relationships that it helps to connect the dots, having someone else like a coach to help connect the dots.

So I remember you were saying that you struggle with the need for approval, do you think that could be applied in this situation and then we think about it. Yeah, I think that's exactly why I'm behaving that way because I'm needing their approval. So I feel worthy, interesting. Well coaching is fantastic. Let me we both um why we got into that, that's why we Got into it. We enjoyed the benefits of it ourselves and then now help others with this. But I think of proverbs to 11 and I did not know Tate which version, but it says thinking ability will keep watch over you. You know, we can think through things God has given us our prefrontal cortex to think through things instead of reacting merely on the basis of emotion. And we have the ability to think new thoughts. We have the ability to be transformed through new thinking. So that's the blessing in all of this, that we can create new thoughts. We can think new thoughts and we can have new feelings, right? And new behaviors of coping very important.

So emotional resilience is how we cope right with stressful situations. Emotional regulation is the how how do we gain resilience? So a lot of things that we've heard which we're going to reiterate here too is practical things that you can do for these steps, right? And how to emotionally regulate? And that's praying first and foremost, that is huge. I've mentioned even earlier and on this podcast, that when I was going through depression, What really helped me uh one feel human and also take away a lot of shame I was putting on myself is reading through psalms and reading through David's inner mental emotional turmoil and that really helped me and praying to God like this is normal. Let me just reframe my thoughts, changed my perspective because that's what he did all throughout psalms writing songs, He wrote that he would vent and complain and then he would shift his perspective and that is a very practical thing to do. Journaling breathing exercises even in the moment when you feel emotionally triggered, take a deep breath in and exhale, that is key to also calming down your heart rate, your nervous system responsible.

Another thing, obviously mindfulness being present, yoga has helped me going on a walk and even going on a walk without music or podcasts or anything, just being able to think and sometimes that's scary. I know people who do not like to be alone with themselves and I did not like to be alone with my thoughts at certain times, but it's so important to help process, you know, your, your emotions and the thoughts behind those emotions um and also just give yourself space and time for reflection. That is huge, as we mentioned, that's a big starting point. You have to let yourself have some time and space away from distractions, responsibility is just to be able to process what's going on and really think, what am I feeling, what emotion specifically am I feeling and why do I think I'm feeling this? You know, where is this coming from? What was said, what am I thinking that's causing this emotion and then now that I know okay, I'm feeling angry, I'm feeling frustrated and feeling sad, what do I usually go to?

You know? And for me that's telling because I tend to go to more coffee more wide, more tv, maybe more sleep, but I can't even sleep anymore very often because my kids are older and they're constantly waking me up so I gave that up, but it's tv coffee wine, like something's going on. Yeah, I need to self reflect. Right? Right? Actually those were some great practical. I hope you listeners all got something out of today's episode in learning how to manage and regulate your emotions. Yeah, thank you guys again for listening and I'm going to give you one last encouragement, just even start with one of these things. One practical and take it one step at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself with oh, I got to do all these things to try and emotionally regulate, but it's a skill is going to take time, just remember that and just be kind and give yourself Grace and be curious, No, judging yourself and just allow yourself to feel those emotions and you will get to see the product of that and how, wow, that wasn't as bad as I thought.

And you'll be able to move forward and just build that emotional resiliency. So, until next time. Everyone, thanks for tuning in. All right, everyone, thank you for joining in on our conversation today here on the Rise up and Shine podcast. If you haven't already, please take a second to hit that subscribe button. So you never miss an episode. And while you're at it, share this episode with a friend who, you know it can bless today. If you want to visit us as well on our websites, you can catch Claudine over at Clotting Sweeney dot com and Ashley at mind over chaos dot com. Are links are in the description. We also have some free resources there for you as well. So remember, ladies, no matter what you are facing in life, it is never too late to rise up and shine and live your best life. Mhm. Mhm. Mhm. Yeah,

Ep. 86 Emotional Regulation
Ep. 86 Emotional Regulation
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