Self-regulation is a necessary skill to develop for mental and emotional consistency. Historically, self-regulation has been defined as choosing to act or behave in alignment with your long-term interests and primary core values.
Violation of one's core values will often result in feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety, which undermine our mental and emotional well-being.
Emotionally, self-regulation is about exercising (and appreciating) the ability you have to regain control of your emotions upon recognizing that you have unintentionally (and often unconsciously) allowed them to take control of you.
In recent years, emotions have become defined as entities that are separate from ourselves. By this, I mean that many medical and psychological professionals have chosen to label our emotional states as sicknesses, illnesses and medical 'conditions' that are outside of our control as human beings.
The problem with the labeling of emotional states in this way is that the individual has become dis-empowered to play any active role in re-assuming control over the quality of their thinking and the consequential emotions that resultantly follow.
The word, "emotion," derived from Latin, literally means "to move." Ancient civilizations believed that emotions influence human behaviour. Today, in some of the more modern expressions of psychology (such as CBT or NLP), we say that emotions will over motivate (or govern) behaviour.
Whether subtle or intense, conscious or unconscious, overt or covert, all emotions have one of three motivations:
1. Approach motivation 2. Avoid motivation 3. Attack motivation
In approach motivation, we want to get more of something, experience more, discover more, learn more, or appreciate more - we increase its value or worthiness of our attention. Typical approach emotions are interest, enjoyment, compassion, trust, and love. Typical approach behaviours consist of learning, encouraging, relating, negotiating, cooperating, influencing, guiding, setting limits, and in some cases, protecting.
In avoid motivation, we want to get away from something - we lower its value or worthiness of our attention. Typical avoid behaviours can be recognised through ignoring, rejecting, withdrawing, looking down upon or/and dismissing.
In attack motivation, we want to devalue, insult, criticize, undermine, harm, coerce, dominate, incapacitate, or destroy. Attack emotions can be recognized by anger, hatred, contempt, or disgust. Characteristic attack behaviours are demanding, manipulating, dominating, coercing, threatening, bullying, harming, and abusing.
Feelings are the conscious and most misunderstood component of emotions. In contrast to the simplicity of basic motivation, feelings are complicated, ever-changing, and subject to moods (like depression), sensations (like warmth, cold, pleasure, pain, comfort, discomfort), and physiological states (like hunger and tiredness).
Feelings can often 'feel' like emotions, which is why many people give psychological meaning to any situation or circumstance that 'feels' uncomfortable. Discomfort will often seem close enough to emotions, and it's this that keeps many people in a state of confusion, where we focus more on feelings than what we do on our motivations.
For many people, feelings are not an end in themselves but more a means of focusing attention. So, instead of acting in accordance to motivation, people commonly react to the emotional state they are situationally experiencing.
For example, if you want to ascertain something that interests you (a person, promotion, a first date) but take no practical steps towards approaching it, the unconscious emotion of interest might begin to feel more like anticipation, excitement, a nagging hunch, or even full blown anxiety.
If you have ignored someone you love and don't approach to apologise and make amends, the commonly unconscious emotion of guilt might begin to feel more like impatience, frustration, anxiety, or even depression (sadness due to not having your motivation met). If you resultantly blame your partner as being responsible for your needs (or wants) not being met, the unconscious emotion of guilt can very quickly become anger and resentment.
When we impulsively act on the core motivation