Anger. Fear. Sadness. Anxiety. Frustration. Everyone has experienced at least one of these emotions, a combination of a few, or all at once. Emotions are reactions to situations and/or circumstances people experience and the way people choose to act (or not act) as a result can affect their mental well-being. Getting to the root of the feelings driving the behavior will help with emotional regulation.

Master Resilience Trainer – Performance Expert (MRT-PE) Brendan O’Neil stressed the importance of people taking ownership of their feelings and actions. For instance, everyone gets angry and frustrated – it’s a natural human reaction; but in the moment they become aware of that emotion, they can decide how to respond.

When having a negative emotional experience, an inherent knee-jerk reaction is to respond in-kind. But anger can beget anger and frustration can beget frustration. The more people are aware of their emotions, the more natural it’ll be to pivot their response. It’s a skill that can be learned.

“Emotional regulation is truly about being brutally honest with yourself about where your emotions are stemming from and having the accountability to make a change in direction and focus,” said O’Neil.

Developing emotional regulation skills positively impacts the way people respond to conflict, and how they manage their personal and professional relationships.

So how can people gain control over them? The first, biggest, and hardest step is strengthening self-awareness. O’Neil describes it as being in a dark room with a flashlight, where people only see what’s in front of them. Once people are aware of their emotion, they should spend some time with that emotion without acting on it.

The next step is to accept and pivot away from the negative emotion towards a positive behavior. People should redirect their focus away from a negative reaction. Finding a link from regulating their emotion to a value or something that’s important to them, like thinking about their goals, is helpful. Perhaps it’s recognition on the job? A promotion? To do better/score higher on a test? Establishing a deeper connection with their spouse?

Once they’ve determined what that value is, they can make small, simple changes or pivots. For instance, if they are getting angry or frustrated, they can try a deep breathing exercise to center themselves instead of unleashing their wrath or ask for time apart to collect themselves. If feeling anxious before a test or presentation, having a positive affirmation on standby that they can reference and root it in a value can be helpful. To learn more about emotional regulation and other resilience skills, visit the nearest R2 Performance Center.