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How to regulate out-of-control emotions?

The relationship between cognition and behavior

By VictorPublished 7 months ago 3 min read
How to regulate out-of-control emotions?
Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

What are the negative effects of losing control of emotions?

Example: Procrastination at Work and Video Binge-Watching

Example: Self-Harm or Alcohol Abuse in Adolescents When Upset

  1. The Impact May Be Subtle, but the Disruption is Significant.
  2. Emotional Arousal is Dual-Channel; System 1 Reacts Faster and More Intensely, While System 2 Responds Later, Resulting in Regret After Acting.

How to deal with it?

To establish a more detailed awareness, understanding the mechanisms behind emotional changes is crucial.

How Are Negative Emotions Generated?

Scene → Automatic Arousal → Cognitive Interpretation → Coping Mechanism

Scenes and automatic arousal happen swiftly.

Example: "My child rejected my request" → "Frustration: 3 points, Anger: 5 points"

Cognitive interpretation is slower but determines the coping mechanism.

Example: "My child is growing up and asserting independence" → Emotional stability

Example: "My child disrespects me; they've become defiant" → Anger, shouting

Real-life emotions are more complex, with one layer leading to another.

Consider the scenario where a child prefers listening to peers over parents. This situation triggers discontent and worry. The parent contemplates whether the child's choices will have a negative influence. The coping mechanism involves reminding the child to trust their judgment. However, the child's disdainful expression results in an eruption of anger.

When to Reflect?

Reflection is most effective after the emotional storm has passed, allowing for a clearer perspective and a less emotionally charged analysis.

Why Does Reflection and Cognitive Understanding Help?

Reflection and cognitive understanding offer a unique advantage—they broaden the timeframe for emotional regulation. This expanded window provides opportunities for intervention at each emotional node. However, the efficacy of this approach is often more pronounced when adjusting during lower-intensity emotional arousal.

How to Intervene After Cognition?

Principle of Intervention

The most important point is to identify the most challenging situations for oneself and, through deliberate practice, learn to respond in a more constructive way.

The method of intervention

1.Scene Identification: Quickly Break Away

Recognizing topics that consistently trigger strong emotions empowers individuals to strategically exit before emotions escalate. For example, if a parent consistently became angry during parental tutoring sessions, hiring a tutor and disengaging from the process could effectively mitigate the emotional trigger.

2.Difficult to Change During Automatic Arousal

Seeking counseling might be a valuable strategy to broaden one's understanding of automatic emotional responses. Professional guidance can provide insights into why certain topics evoke intense emotions and offer tailored strategies for managing them.

3.Changing the Frame of Cognitive Interpretation

Cognitive interpretation is a pivotal stage in emotional responses. Recognizing that interpretations are not absolute facts and can have multiple perspectives is key. For instance, the interpretation "My child is not respecting me; they've become defiant" can be reframed as "My child is growing up and asserting independence," resulting in emotional stability.

4.Constructive Coping Behaviors

The most crucial aspect is what we do after an emotion arises. Are there better choices?

  • Constructive Coping:

Effectively deal with emotions, like expressing them, taking a moment, engaging in activities like shopping or running, or allowing oneself to cry as a cathartic release.

  • Non-constructive Coping:

Faced with anxiety, choose avoidance; faced with anger, suppress or act destructively; faced with sadness, engage in self-punishment.

Changes After Learning

These strategies aim to provide a structured approach to managing emotions, breaking down the process, and identifying areas for improvement, thereby fostering a more mindful and effective response to life's challenges. Recognizing the intricacies of emotional responses equips individuals with the tools to navigate the complex interplay of scenes, automatic arousal, cognitive interpretation, and coping mechanisms, fostering emotional intelligence and resilience.

However, any theory needs to be put into practice to achieve good results. Therefore, we should take immediate action, recognize our current emotions, and intervene based on the nature of these emotions. Additionally, in our daily lives, we also need to constantly be aware of and regulate our emotions. Only then can we reap a fulfilling family life and harmonious interpersonal relationships.

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About the Creator


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