Lifestyle

Self-regulation: What is it and how to use it to get where you want to be

 

Self-regulation is the ability to control behaviour and emotions in order to control disruptive impulses and emotions. It also assists with helping you learn how to stay positive in the face of disappointments and challenges. Sounds too good to be true? Not with a little bit of commitment and work!

Read on to find out how you can develop self-regulation and put it to use this year. 

How can you develop and use self-regulation to achieve your goals

Our ability to self-regulate starts from a young age as babies. When children encounter uncomfortable feelings like sadness, frustration or hunger, they can often throw tantrums. This is partly how they learn how to self-regulate and control their desire to act out as they mature into adults.

However, if there are attachment issues or the child’s needs are not being met, this can lead to issues with self-regulation as an adult.

Self-regulation is a common issue with people who have weight management problems. Due to their lack of self-regulation, these people find themselves acting on uncomfortable emotions by binge eating or making unhealthy or dangerous lifestyle decisions. While it may seem hopeless, there are ways you can learn to self-regulate as an adult.

Cognitive Restructuring

Changing the way you think and perceive a situation can be extremely beneficial to your self-regulation. Let’s say, for example, you’ve asked a friend out for coffee multiple times and she hasn’t said yes. Instead of thinking ‘she doesn’t like me/she doesn’t want to be friends with me’, you may concentrate on other possibilities such as ‘she’s also a mum so she must be busy’ or ‘she may be overwhelmed with life and trying to sort through a list of priorities’. Worrying about the why’s of life is an unneeded barrier.

Mindfulness

There has been an immense amount of research backing the benefits of mindfulness. A review of almost 30 studies on the subject of mindfulness found that attention and complex thinking increased as did regulating negative emotions. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of the present through techniques such as meditation or deep breathing. Mindfulness can help in managing emotions as they arise and curbing unhealthy behavioural choices.

In the end, we are not the result of our circumstances but we are the sum of our decisions. If you have an issue in your life that is maintaining your unhealthy weight, you can teach yourself to live better.

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written by:

Shara Smith

Shara is a psychotherapist and a counsellor, who has over 12 years experience in the mental health, life coaching and self-care sector. While she loves her husband and three kids, she also loves watching re-runs of Sex in the City and baking decadent cookies that only she gets to eat.