Three Tips for Regulating Reactions

Kayla Douglas
Nov 26, 2019 · 3 min read
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I blink back tears and swallow the words that want to come spilling out of my mouth. My partner is looking at me, encouraging me to go on speaking my mind but I know it's not useful.

If I give my energy to these emotions, they will continue. I know they don’t deserve my voice. If I can acknowledge where they are coming from, recognize that I am no longer in that place, and bring myself back to the present moment, I can move past them.

What Happened

I let myself travel back into the past for a short time to write an article about a painful time in my life and how I got out of it.

I am a completely different person than I was in the time that I was writing about. But once I opened up that portal to the past, it was like a vortex of negative energy and memories was pulling me down. I found myself acting in ways that weren’t congruent with who I am today and I was incredibly confused.

I tried to pin the problems on my partner.

“You don’t pay attention to me enough.”

“I don’t think you enjoy spending time with me.

“Why are you with me?”

He listened to me, apologized, and promised he would do better. I tried to picture what “better” looked like and I couldn’t see it.

Then, I thought back to the day before. Had I felt like he wasn’t paying attention to me on Monday? Nope, I was very happy in my relationship on Monday. The only thing that had changed in that day was my own mindset. My relationship wasn’t a problem.

How did I regulate this unexplained emotion?

I took a moment to do a hypnosis exercise I recently learned that allows me to look at myself from an outside perspective.

You’re not good enough for your partner,” was the message my subconscious was broadcasting.

“But I am,” I argued back. “When I was depressed and suicidal I believed I wasn’t good enough but now I know better. I’m not going back to that place where I believed I wasn’t.”

Suddenly, I felt calm. The tension in my body eased and I opened my eyes and apologized to my partner. I explained what had happened with the story I wrote and that I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough for him. I thanked him for not joining in my emotional meltdown and letting me get through it on my own.

We fell asleep together peacefully. I was feeling so grateful that I have learned to regulate my emotions and that I have a partner with the patience to allow me the time to do it.

Hopefully, in the future, I will improve at noticing where my emotions are coming from before lashing out at my partner. But I am learning and growing every day.

So here are my reminders.

  1. Ask the important questions: What do I want to accomplish by saying these things out loud? What is the outcome I am looking for?
  2. Take responsibility for yourself. Empowerment comes when you own the emotions instead of hopping on the roller coaster and letting them take you for a ride.
  3. What tools do you have to deal with these emotions? Get back to the present moment and look at them from a different perspective.

These three things generally can get me back to a place where I am not swimming in a river of feelings waiting to be rescued. I hope they can help you, too.

Leave a comment with additional ideas that help you manage your reactions to emotions!

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment.

Kayla Douglas

Written by

Life Coach, author, lifelong learner, travel enthusiast, narcolepsy advocate, living in Myanmar, she/her https://www.kaylamdouglas.com

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment.

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