Emotional regulation is not something that was taught in a widespread fashion when I was a little child. I do know some people who are my age and older who were taught healthy coping strategies at a young age. Unfortunately, most of the people whom I meet have not been given tools to process their emotions. Some common phrases well-meaning parents use(d) are:
“If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”
“When I was your age, I had it much worse.”
“You have to do it this way because I am your parent and I said so.”
While these phrases may seem common and harmless, what they do is, over time, teach a child that it is not ok to feel the way they are feeling. Children who grow up this way are not likely to develop healthy coping strategies. They are not likely to understand how to reframe negative situations in a way that ensures they’re not internalizing guilt and shame. Instead, they will be very likely to see every negative situation as a reason to internalize those negative emotions.
When we are able to process a negative experience in a way that we will not internalize shame and guilt, we are more likely to feel positive about ourselves. When we feel more positively about ourselves, we are less likely to experience anxiety, depression, and other types of ill mental health. When we are in these ill mental health states, our stress responses are almost always activated. This is very likely to lead to our immune systems being less capable of helping us fight off sickness.
Our healthy or unhealthy coping mechanisms will lead us to either good physical health or poor physical health.
Helping clients learn to reframe situations so as to change their beliefs about themselves is something I am passionate about. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approaches can teach people how to look at a situation, decide which of their thoughts are true, and which ones are there because of limiting core beliefs.
Pinel, J. P. J., & Barnes, S. J. (2017). Biopsychology (10th ed.) [Revel version]. Retrieved from https://www.pearsonhighered.com/revel
Zahniser, E., & Conley, C. S. (2018). Interactions of emotion regulation and perceived stress in predicting emerging adults’ subsequent internalizing symptoms. Motivation and Emotion, 42(5), 763-773. doi:http://dx.doi.org.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s11031-018-9696-0