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Emotional Regulation

I honestly had no clue as to what this is. I never experienced it from either my mom or dad growing up. What I did experience, and continue to experience, is volatile behaviors from my mom and a complete numbness to that behavior from my dad. I’m not blaming my dad, he continues to suffer from emotional and verbal abuse to this day so of course he would shut down. It breaks my heart to know he is still experiencing abuse and puts up with it. The impact of my mom’s lack of emotional regulation for my sister and I, especially as kids, was tremendous none the less. My dad couldn’t protect us. How could he if he couldn’t protect himself. I forgive my dad with all my heart, but neither are good role models when it comes to processing and expressing emotions in a healthy way.

I came across a post from The Holistic Psychologist on FB today that addressed emotional regulation. I could relate 100%, it was like I had someone finally understand how much of a burden not being able to self-regulate has had on me and it’s hard to just stop acting out in unhealthy ways. My health, relationships, professional life, sense of safety, self-worth, confidence have all been negatively impacted by not being able to emotionally regulate. As a result, I’ve abused alcohol, acted impulsively, take medication for depression and anxiety, have stayed in, or created dysfunctional relationships, and over time developed BPD.

I haven’t mastered any techniques to consistently help but I’m trying new ways of dealing with my strong emotions when they come up to see what feels good and what may work long term. I realize this will take some time as I need to literally build new neural pathways in my brain and undo the years of learning to react in a certain way. For example, now when I feel something, good or bad, I try to connect with the essence of what is happening. If it makes my heart happy, I bask in that light and truly try to enjoy what is happening internally vs trying to express it externally. Similarly, when something bad happens, I try to equally sit in that reality and all the feelings that flood in prior to deciding about what happens next. I try not to jump to conclusions and act externally as I would in the past. Sometimes, even after taking that pause, I do feel taken advantage of, and in those instances, I end up exercising appropriate boundaries or speaking up. It’s hard to explain but like most things in life, when you know what feels right to do or not do, you know.

I have a lot of work to do in this area. I recognize that and have become aware of emotional regulation as the source for many of my roadblocks in life. I’m exactly where I need to be, doing the work that I need to do. My choices have brought me here to this very point in my mental, physical, and spiritually journey. I rarely quote song lyrics, but Brandi Carlisle says it better than I ever could in her song The Eye. “…there ain't no shame in lying down in the bed you made. Can you fight the urge to run for another day? You might make it further if you learn to stay.”


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