Can people with a lack of emotion survive

Emotion regulation: being able to direct one's own feelings

Feelings are important, suppressing them leads to mental illness in the long run. On the other hand is Emotion regulation just as important. We can't just vent our anger at every suitable (or inappropriate) opportunity, children are already learning that. As adults, we can assess the consequences of ill-considered behavior much better and know that wrong behavior can have negative effects in certain situations. Depending on how badly we are affected and whether we have the right strategies in hand, it is particularly difficult to hold back. We explain what exactly is meant by emotion regulation and give you tips for better control ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Emotion Regulation Definition: Control over feelings

Was it previously of the opinion that feelings are often ballast, those of distract rational decisions, nowadays the importance of emotions is undisputed.

Because emotions control your own behavior - and that could Decisive for the war in the distant past be. Anyone who felt no fear when attacked by a saber-toothed tiger was simply eaten - the presence of sufficient feelings ensured their own survival and the transmission of genes to their offspring.

No contrast has been seen between feeling and understanding for a long time. The connection between repressed emotions and mental health. When we talk about control over our feelings, it means that we ourselves are largely responsible for how we interpret a situation, how we feel and how we react to it.

We are our emotions not helpless. In this context, emotion regulation plays an important role. The term can be understood in two ways:

  • The Action of a personto influence one's own feelings in a certain way in terms of their duration and intensity.
  • The result of these efforts.

Furthermore, you can more precisely choose between a external and an internal emotion regulation distinguish. The former manifests itself in socially desirable behaviors, for example by controlling their voice (and pitch). The latter shows up when a person turns his attention to something else in uncomfortable situations, thus showing tolerance for frustration.

Reasons for influencing emotions

Why is emotion regulation important? For various reasons. Not just because we are no longer exposed to threats like facing a saber-toothed tiger. In some situations there are certain emotions socially inappropriate or desired.

The best example: a guest who bursts into roaring laughter at a funeral service while the mourning family struggles to hold back tears. The (in this culture) socially accepted form grief is a rather worn-out behavior that is characterized by restraint.

In the workplace, too, adequate emotion regulation ensures that Don't escalate conflicts and there is as balanced a relationship as possible. Where this is not guaranteed, a bad working atmosphere and / or bullying can result.

Emotion regulation can relate to:

  • Influence on positive and negative affective states

    For example, if you have passed your exam with a very good while your best friend is rattled through, you will endeavor not to keep mentioning your good grade in front of you, cheering loudly. Instead, he'll curb his own feelings, at least in the presence of the friend. Likewise, someone should try not to infect everyone else with their bad mood, for example if they have to appear freshly separated at a wedding.

  • Reinforcement and weakening of affective states

    You have probably already seen how some people can literally “wallow” in something - for example the colleague who has landed an order and proudly talks about the details over and over again. He thereby contributes to the fact that the feeling of happiness is kept awake in him. The same is of course also possible in a negative way, that people are resentful because they keep the memory of a mistake alive.

This is about short-term emotions that have a clear trigger. these can automatically or unconsciously be regulated.

Process model according to James J. Gross: 5 intervention options

The American psychologist James Gross sees the regulation of emotions as a process in which on different points can intervene.

Find four of them before triggering the actual emotion instead of. Example: An employee in a company is very shy, the upcoming company party scares him because he usually avoids large crowds.

  • Situation selection

    Here he can make use of various options. One would be to endure the fears and go to the company party. The alternative would be an avoidance strategy so that he would not have to expose himself to the negative feelings. In any case, the selection of the situation already helps to moderate feelings in one way or another.

  • Situation modification

    In the case of the situation modification, in our example, an employee would control his feelings by going to the company party with friends and colleagues and thus changing the originally threatening situation (getting somewhere alone).

  • Directing attention

    At this point, our shy worker would swallow his fears and go to the company party and focus on one thing instead of thinking about how uncomfortable he is all the time. This could be, for example, the nice decoration of the location, a friendly colleague or something similar.

  • Cognitive reassessment

    Means that reframing takes place on a rational level. The company party is now seen as a networking opportunity. At the same time, the employee knows that he has already experienced and mastered similar situations in the past and that the whole thing will not be as bad as he may have feared at first.

  • Modulation of the emotional response

    At this point the emotions are already emerging, our employee is now at the company party and notices that a panic attack is looming. He recognizes the signals and consciously counteracts them, for example through conscious, slow breathing, autosuggestion or other relaxation exercises.

These are not five consecutive phases, but rather five optionshow emotion regulation can work.

5 stages of emotion regulation

The following graphic illustrates which processes are possible in a situation.

  • Situation: An event occurs, for example the phone rings in the office. According to Gross, for example, it would be possible to take the phone call or let the phone ring. Since this is an external phone number, it could be an urgent call from a customer, you pick up the phone.
  • Attention: It is a customer who has a problem that he describes in detail. They take in the information, take notes.
  • Rating: Your assessment of the situation depends on how the customer talks to you (reproachfully, loudly, pleading, seeking advice): For example, the customer is angry, becomes personal or has a specific concern, a legitimate complaint.
  • Emotional Reaction: The behavior of the counterpart often triggers something: It is not for nothing that it is said: As it resounds in the forest, so it also resounds out. Feelings such as irritability or incomprehension, as well as compassion or helpfulness are possible.
  • Emotion regulation: If it is an unfriendly customer who attacks you personally, appropriate emotion regulation is usually necessary in the interests of the company, that is, you will try to clarify the situation on your part, even if you are internally upset.

The ability to self-reflect leads people to look in certain situations:

  • What feelings do I feel?
  • When do I feel such feelings?
  • How can I deal with it?

Emotion regulation in children and adults

Parents have a major influence on how emotion regulation is developed in children. They are the caregivers and therefore the first role models.

The prerequisite for this is that parents ...

  • the well-being of your children is important to you,
  • they understand their child's signals and
  • react to it in a solution-oriented manner.

This of course assumes that parents have a certain amount of their turn emotional intelligence and have social skills. If a child feels that their fears and problems have been seen and taken seriously, they receive help in finding solutions and if they are a role model themselves in situations that may not be possible to change, the child is given sufficient means to regulate emotions.

It then learns by itself that certain situations accepted or changed can be.

Mental illness as a sign of a lack of emotion regulation

The problem with many mental illnesses is that those affected have difficulty influencing the intensity and duration of feelings. In the case of social phobias, for example, is often the Fear of evaluation by observing others.

Mostly it's about temporary feelings like fear and shame that are not adequately dealt with. If a situation was very embarrassing for the person concerned in the past, the whole thing is extremely exaggerated and future situations are anticipated.

Others have no strategies designed to deal with disappointment. The deficits in emotion regulation can lead to a number of negative behaviors, for example:

  • Avoiding certain situations
  • Constant brooding
  • Focus on negative aspects
  • Blame others
  • Alcohol and / or drug abuse
  • Aggressive behavior towards others

From a scientific point of view, it is important to know what factors contribute to such Disturbances in the regulation of emotions develop first. Because often the cause lies in past events that encourage appropriate behavior.

On the other hand, there are people who, despite traumatic experiences, develop a resilience, i.e. to one constructive and therefore healthy handling with their negative feelings.

Exercises for Adults: How to Regulate Your Emotions

Having your own feelings under control is important in all areas in which you have contact with other people. Emotion regulation is a success factorbecause this is how you demonstrate that you understand the rules of society.

It's not about total self-denial, just that greatest common denominatorwithout which a society would not function. On the one hand, personality plays a role in the regulation of emotions.

Unfortunately, behavior following Wilhelm Busch's recommendation often does not help. Anyone who has a strong tendency to extraversion after the Big Five will have difficulty keeping their emotions in check. This can lead to offending people in certain contexts or simply being less suitable for certain jobs.

Good emotion regulation is important for adequate behavior, because it still gives you the opportunity to make a different decision (see Gross's process model). What can you do now?

  • Move

    Exercise is an excellent outlet for stress. And negative emotions often cause additional stress. Exercise, especially if it gets your heart rate up, helps you focus on your body and your physical performance. So you don't even start brooding.

  • creativity

    Some people hardly know what to do with their energy. This can also be channeled creatively. Painting, pottery, sewing or if you want it to be more physically strenuous: sculpting also requires dealing with something concrete and creates a distraction.

  • Relaxation exercises

    Various relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or mindfulness help to regulate emotions such as anger, nervousness or fear. There are also meditations that are thematically specifically geared towards certain topics. You shift the focus away from what is preoccupying you to what you want.

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