Introduction to Emotion Regulation Skills
As we have seen in previous lessons, in the heat of a moment many of us will react with strong emotions, leading to impulsive decisions. Finding emotional balance – balancing these unwanted strong emotions – is a way to effectively deal with these emotions so they don’t run wild, and can also help you with the motivation to do things differently.
As with the other core skills, they are all linked together. To find balance with emotions, these emotion regulation skills go hand in hand with distress tolerance skills.
People with BPD often have what is commonly referred to as ‘black and white thinking’. This is a rigid way of looking at things – this are either/or and there is no inbetween. You may think ‘I made a mistake.I can’t get anything right. I am worthless’. This way of thinking assumes that there only two options – good or bad.
As we have seen, DBT teaches us that there are other ways to assess our emotions, and use our skills to create more helpful thought patterns. For example, in this example above:
“‘I made a mistake.I can’t get anything right. I am worthless”
“It’s true I made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s true that I felt worthless and shouldn’t be alive, but everyone who is alive has also made mistakes and they aren’t worthless. I can say I made a mistake, and work to fix it, and acknowledge that I can learn from this and this one mistake does not affect my worth as a person.”
Balancing our emotions can help us to pause, assess, choose our actions instead of reacting. Choosing actions allows us to taking into consideration all the facts before deciding what to do, as opposed to reacting which is allowing our emotions to take charge.