Why Is Self-Regulation Important & How Can We Practice It?
Self-regulation is the new skill you need.
I’m going to pull a major writing faux pas, and tell you why right away:
Because not enough people practice self-regulation, and more of us should.
Everyone has triggers. Even if you had the dreamiest childhood and upbringing full of puppies and rainbows; you still have triggers.
Mine happen to be confrontation, anger, raised voices, feelings, and loud noises.
Basically, anything that makes me feel unsafe.
Safe. I literally have to remind myself multiple times a day, every single day of the week: “You are safe. You are safe. You are safe.”
When I am triggered, I revert back to little Emmie. It takes me right back to the moments of my childhood when I hid, when I felt helpless, when I didn’t know how to protect myself; when I felt unsafe.
When I am triggered, I am rarely the best version of myself.
And then I spiral into a shame cycle, feeling like I am the worst possible person on the planet. Wow, Em, how could you do that? How could you say that? How could you think that?
It escalates quickly.
If you’re like me, there is nothing anyone could ever say that is worse than what you have said to yourself.
If you’re like me, there is no one who is harder on you than you are.
And if you’re like me, you overbalance and over-function. You over-process. You overthink even the smallest, most meaningless things.
If you’re like me, sleep might be the hardest thing you have to do today.
But I want to be clear. None of these things make you defective.
It just means you care. It makes you passionate. And it means you are self-aware; sometimes to a fault.
It means that you likely need some self-regulation tools.
Self-regulation. I was intrigued by the term the first time I heard it.
What is Self-Regulation?
The ability to monitor and manage your energy states, emotions, thoughts, and behaviours in ways that are acceptable and produce positive results such as well-being, loving relationships, and learning.
In other words, you can’t bullshit your way through self-regulation.
This is inner work that takes real development of consciousness.
To me, self-regulation is about bringing your inner child back to safety. Taking them by the hand. Talking them off the ledge. Giving them a big hug.
When I view my triggered self as little Emmie, I can foster so much more compassion for myself and my behaviour. I realise that my reactions in those moments; those ones that I’m not particularly proud of; are a survival mechanism that is simply outdated. I didn’t know how to give myself what I needed as a kid, but I am certainly capable now.
I work on self-regulating techniques every single day, in the hopes that I respond more often than I react.
It’s a practice, and it takes time.
Here’s what I do to grow my self-regulation skills:
1. Love notes
I leave myself notes everywhere.
Most recently, I wrote myself the same note multiple times and pinned it in multiple places around my apartment.
“I choose to love myself no matter what—now, always, and forever.”
You might want to try it. Never forget that you are your one true soulmate.
Twice a day. Honestly, when I don’t meditate, shit really gets out of control for me. It doesn’t have to be longer than 10 minutes twice a day, but please make time to just sit and be.
No explanation needed. Find a blank page and a pen, and give yourself as much or as little time as you like to free write.
4. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), aka “tapping.”
This is an incredibly powerful way to regulate your nervous system. And it’s not “woo woo.”
There’s real research about EFT as it relates to heart rate variability, heart coherence, the immune system, and more.
If you have no idea what I am talking about, I highly recommend looking up Brad Yates on YouTube for tutorials and/or guidance.
All day, every day. Train your brain to reach for positive thoughts, even during a crisis.
Walking, jumping on a trampoline, riding my horse. Physical activity moves stuck energy. Get up, get moving, and get a new perspective.
There are so many more methods. You have to figure out what works for you, and that might change day to day. That’s why having an arsenal of tools to choose from is important.
Is it worth it?
From the sole perspective of energy, YES.
I am learning how to self-regulate so that I can stop the madness.
Why in the actual fuck am I wasting valuable energy overthinking things that no one else is still thinking about? Why am I losing sleep over not being perfect?
Accepting yourself in each moment and learning how to move on effectively protects your energy. And for all my fellow empaths and creatives out there: This. Goes. For. You.
Let me be clear about one more thing.
Everyone has triggers. Everyone has shit their dealing with. You are not less lovable for any of it. We are all human. If someone stops loving you because you had a moment, then they never really loved you.
So, let yourself off the hook. Love every part of yourself. Love yourself no matter what.
Self-regulation is about giving yourself the grace to make mistakes and learning from them with love. It’s about developing the skills to more efficiently cope with the triggering life events that happen every day.
It’s not just for some of us. This is work for ALL of us.
You raise the collective consciousness of the world when you work out your shit, instead of taking it out on others.
I believe I will always be a work in progress.
And I believe that is one of the main reasons why this life is a beautiful journey.
Let’s keep growing. Let’s learn how to self-regulate.
God knows the world could use a few more emotionally intelligent people.