Wanting to avoid negative emotions is very normal.
We may stop dating to avoid the sadness of a breakup or breech in trust.We may avoid trying new things for fear of failing or disliking them. Maybe a teacher tells you that a subject just isn’t for you and you never take a class in that subject again.
Life conditions us to associate events with positive and negative feelings. We are all Pavlov’s dogs, trying to get some food and not get shocked.
But the more that we avoid the negative emotions and experiences, the less equipped we are to handle them when they inevitably happen to us. And they will.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid pain, disappointment, anger, sadness, guilt, frustration, shame, etc., etc. etc.
Like a hurricane in Florida, instead of hoping negative emotions don’t happen, buckle up and be prepared.
Your Survival Guide: Emotion Regulation
Emotion Regulation focuses on a few different things.
First, it helps you to recognize your emotions–both negative and positive–and view neither as a bad thing. Often, individuals who experience depression will have a secondary emotion of guilt or shame as a result of how they feel. Know that it is okay to feel a certain way (or know coping mechanisms to use in place of self-blame.)
Once you’ve recognized them, describe them. Feeling “bad” can mean a number of different things. Are you disappointed? Lonely? Remorseful? There is no single universal method for not feeling “bad.” Specifically identifying the emotion allows for more effective resolutions to emerge.
Emotion regulation also seeks to increase positive emotions, while both decreasing and teaching one to cope with those that are negative.
DBT stresses the importance of taking care of one’s physical and mental health, as well as one’s self-esteem. This helps to not only increase positive emotions, but also makes one more secure and resilient to negative emotions.
One that that DBT does not do is make all of your negative emotions disappear. Rather, it recognizes that negative experiences and emotions cannot and should not be avoided. Bad things are going to happen to us. We’re going to feel sad and angry sometimes. But we can also do something about that.
Emotion Regulation at Blueprint Mental Health
Emotion regulation is the third module of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). DBT is a progressive, skills-based therapy that has been proven effective in treating anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other mental health issues.
Blueprint Mental Health specializes in DBT for adolescents, and offers individual and group therapy as well as DBT training sessions to those within the community. Our 2017 DBT Summer Series, which includes training for parents and training for teens begins this week!