Self-Regulation: The Missing Link In Healing and Habit Change
In our journey to heal physical and mental health issues, we often focus on external factors such as medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. While these elements are undoubtedly important, there is one crucial piece that is often overlooked: self-regulation.
Learning tools for emotional regulation can be a game changer, providing us with the missing link to true healing and sustainable habit change. In this blog, we will explore how developing emotional awareness and practicing advanced self-regulation skills can pave the way for profound transformation in our overall well-being.
Self-regulation refers to the ability of our nervous system to manage and modulate its response to the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that are triggered by the different people and situations around us. Basic self-regulation skills are often learned during childhood as part of natural development and socialization. These fundamental abilities, such as taking turns, managing frustration, and calming down after a tantrum, help children adapt to their surroundings and navigate everyday challenges. While these skills lay the groundwork for emotional regulation, advanced self-regulation represents a higher level of emotional maturity and empowerment. Advanced self-regulation goes beyond merely managing emotions in a way that enables a person to function in society; rather it involves a profound understanding of our inner world and a willingness to confront and transform deeply ingrained and self-defeating emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Learning to self-regulate beyond the basics skills that most people develop during their early years is crucial for the more advanced states of emotional maturity that lead not only to physical healing but also to accelerated spiritual growth and deeper intimacy in relationships. This is because once one develops these more advanced self-regulation tools, they become empowered to navigate life’s challenges in a way that enables them to learn and grow from experiences that are triggering instead of feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and reactive. This means that one who possesses tools to self-regulate in more advanced ways will be in a sense, “upgrading” their emotional operating system. With practice, this new way of functioning emotionally becomes one’s new “regular” way of functioning where the difficult emotions that arise within that once caused increased stress to the system now become the catalyst for releasing blocks to change and making the choices that are most aligned with one's higher self.
Once you are ready to start consciously cultivating deeper abilities to self-regulate, it's recommended to start developing more awareness of your emotional state in day to day moments. Here are some ways to start expanding your current level of emotional awareness:
Once you’re regularly making more time for bringing your emotions into awareness, you’ll be ready to start learning the advanced skills that are involved in higher levels of self-regulation. Practicing "Breath Awareness" and "Pause and Reflect" techniques are two basic skills that one can begin to learn when they are ready to lay the groundwork for developing more advanced skills.
The breath is an anchor that connects our body and mind. When you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to focus on your breath. Slowly inhale through your nose, allowing your belly to rise, and exhale through your mouth, releasing tension. This simple practice can help regulate your emotions and bring a sense of calm.
Pause and Reflect:
Before reacting impulsively to a situation or an emotional trigger, create a pause. Take a moment to reflect on your emotions and consider the consequences of your actions. By introducing this space for reflection, you can respond consciously rather than reactively.
Self-regulation is the missing link in our journey to healing physical and mental health issues and creating lasting habit change. By developing emotional awareness and practicing self-regulation techniques, we gain the power to transform our lives from within. While the type of results from this work vary from person to person, I have seen the profound effects of this emotional healing work on mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression as well as numerous physical health symptoms ranging from psoriasis to irritable bowel syndrome.
It’s important to remember that more advanced self-regulation skills usually require time and effort to develop so embrace your journey of exploring the depths of your emotions with warmth and understanding. Be patient and compassionate with yourself as you navigate this path towards mind-body healing and personal growth. While my experience has shown that progress is mainly the result of a strong enough desire to change along with the commitment to practicing skills daily, I've also seen that learning from a trained guide in either a group or one-on-one format can greatly accelerate progress.
Remember, the possibilities for healing emotionally and physically are much greater than most people think when we are aware that real lasting change begins within. With self-regulation as your ally, you can unlock the tremendous potential within you to lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
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