Bonus Lesson: Your Emotional Regulation Cheat-Sheet
Emotional Regulation 101
• Emotional regulation—your ability to adjust your emotions to achieve your goals—is a key component of emotional intelligence (EI), and EI is one of the most sought-after skills by employers, friends, and partners. EI has been correlated with happiness and success.
• It’s not what happens to us (the trigger) that determines how we feel and the results we get, but our interpretation of the trigger.
• We regulate our emotions in healthy or unhealthy ways. Some unhealthy ways of dealing with emotions are binge-eating, binge-drinking, addictions, procrastinating, self-blaming, blaming others, ruminating, and catastrophizing. Consistently suppressing our emotions is also unhealthy.
• Studies show that people who believe they can control their emotions are successful at doing it, so start by believing you can do it.
Healthy Strategies to Manage Your Emotions Like a STAR™
STAR™ is an acronym to remember what we can control to influence our emotions:
The Situation (S)
Your Thoughts (T)
Your Attention (A)
Your Reappraisal (R)
The areas we can control are interrelated and overlap.
S: Controlling Situations (The 4A Process)
1. Awareness. Identify a negative emotion you’ve felt and might experience again. Become aware of the circumstances that led you to experience that emotion on previous occasions.
2. Avoidance. Ask yourself, “Is it possible to avoid those circumstances in the future?”
a. If the answer is “yes,” avoid those circumstances from then on. Boom! You’re done!
b. If the answer is “no,” it’s all good, go on to Step 3.
3. Alteration. Ask yourself, “How can I change the circumstances to lessen their negative effect on me?
a. If you find a way to do it, then just do it! Modify the situation.
b. If you determine that changing the situation is not possible, then the good news is we have Step 4 ready to assist you.
4. Alternative. You get to this step when you’ve determined it’s not possible to avoid or modify the situation that causes a negative emotion. In that case, apply any of the other three strategies in the STAR™ group.
T: Controlling Your Thoughts
• By replacing a negative thought with something that positively engages your mind, you make it more likely that you won’t return to that negative thought.
• Gather a “treasure chest” of happy memories that you can unbox anytime you feel yourself slipping into a negative space emotionally.
A: Controlling Your Attention
• Turn your attention toward or away from something in order to influence your emotions.
• To control negative emotions about yourself:
○ Acknowledge that you must shift your attention away from your flaws (real or perceived) and from what others think of you (be they genuine or your own assumptions).
○ Order yourself to “STOP!”
○ Refocus your attention on your strengths, talents, accomplishments, and goals. With a mind clear of negative emotions, work on your areas of improvement from a stance of self-love.
• The triggers to some negative emotions live in the future (fear and worry) or in the past (regret, guilt, self-blame, and resentment). To control those emotions, refocus on the present.
R: Controlling your Reappraisal
• Appraising means evaluating or assessing something, so reappraisal means evaluating something a second time. You reappraise a situation or event because the emotion it led you to feel is unpleasant.
• To apply this strategy, assess what happened from a different, more positive lens. Go back and re-assess because a new, positive interpretation gives the event a new meaning, and this new meaning will lead you to feel a new, less negative emotion and take more productive actions.
• Instead of reappraising a situation, you can reappraise your capacity to manage it, and bet on yourself. You’ve got this!
Congratulations on completing this course! If you liked it, you may now want to check out my Highbrow course “How To Be Popular And Make Everyone Like You.” See you there!
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