Emotion regulation involves learning to respond to emotions in ways that make them more tolerable and manageable. We can’t control our emotions. We can’t suppress emotions we don’t want to feel, or force ourselves to feel a certain way. But emotion regulation skills allow us to influence our emotions and how we feel.
This doesn’t mean we can change the way we feel altogether. We can’t flip an emotion regulation switch and instantly go from feeling sad to happy, or angry or anxious to calm. But we can use emotion regulation skills to influence or modify our emotions. Sometimes our emotions may even change, and we no longer feel sad or angry or anxious. But more often it’s the intensity and duration of an emotion that changes, not the actual type of emotion.
Goals of Emotion Regulation
The goals of emotion regulation include:
- Understanding, naming, and accepting current emotions
- Changing emotional responses
- Decreasing the frequency and intensity of unwanted emotions
- Decreasing emotional vulnerability and vulnerability to emotion mind
- Increasing resiliency and our ability to cope with difficulties
- Increasing positive emotions
- Decreasing emotional suffering
In this section you’ll find posts about:
- Understanding, Naming and Accepting Emotions
- Emotion Regulation and Physical Symptoms and Sensations
- Checking the Facts
- Changing Unwanted Emotions Flowchart
- Opposite Action
- Behavioral Activation: Opposite Action for Depression
- Emotion Regulation, Problem Solving and Action Plans
- Cooling Down Your Emotions
If you go through these posts in order, you’ll gain a solid grasp of emotion regulation skills in DBT, and your emotions will start to become more manageable and less overwhelming.
Remember that Core Mindfulness Skills are the foundation of DBT. Some of the emotion regulation skills rely on mindfulness, so if you’re not familiar with mindfulness skills in DBT, consider going through these first. Or if you want to jump right in to the emotion regulation skills, don’t forget to check out the mindfulness skills later.