A very common observation in schools and colleges as reported by School Counselors and teachers is that, students easily lose control and immediately indulge in physical fights. Lately, our government has established strict rules against corporal punishment and is a big No-No to be practiced. Setting clear rules regarding communicating with the students, parent-teacher meetings, discipline policy etc. has set a solid foundation that defines the role demands to be played by the Teachers, Students and Parents. Also any kind of abuse to the child can be prevented such as causing insult, naming, shaming or beating up. As per research, such kinds of acts are extremely detrimental to child’s mental health, since it hurts their self- esteem and self-image. Although, earlier physical punishment against students by the teachers was a norm which was completely accepted with an underlying belief that ‘Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child’. Teachers and Parents believed that to get the tasks done, to keep the child under control and to ensure discipline it’s important to sometimes hit them. And the more they are scared of you, it means the more they respect you. As we progressed ahead this false belief began to diminish. As Child Psychology became a crucial part in the holistic development of the child, our education system began to become more Child- Centric. Apart from academics, today many schools emphasize moral, emotional, social, physical development as well. School Counselors organize activities which inculcate growth across all areas of development such as quizzes, debates, group discussions, life skills, brain games etc. All such changes in the framework of school policies also lead to disciplining issues like bullying, teasing, fighting etc., which were found to rapidly increase. Although, physical beating lead to suppression of emotions, added to the frustration so, should never be promoted or practiced. However, at the same time when students are not taught to be decisive when they feel angry or any other negative emotion they are more likely to completely lose control. Reacting in response to anger, therefore lead to damage and serious brutal attacks over each other. A very vital term labeled as ‘Emotional Regulation’ born out of psychology is now being implemented in various counseling programs.
Emotional Regulation includes, firstly being aware of the feeling and then labeling it. Secondly, being mindful about it, this means acknowledging it without any judgment. Next, we begin to search for the cause of the feeling e.g. particular words used by a person and observing the changes in the body. The feeling is psychological, this means it is felt in the mind and the emotion is physiological, this means it is felt in the body. Emotions are experienced in the body quite differently by all of us, even if it is the same emotion. E.g., In case of anger some people feel tightness in the jaw, someone else might feel shivering. So each one of us experience the same emotion differently. It is important to consciously address our feelings and emotions. Proper addressal means not to react to the emotion and at the same time not pushing it away or hiding from it. If we break the word e-motion is signifies energy in motion and energy can neither be created nor be destroyed, it can only be transformed. So, the idea is to transform the emotion into something positive or something neutral.
Ways to achieve Self Emotional Regulation:
Self emotional regulation means our ability to manage, control and modulate our emotions. As I mentioned earlier, if our actions are initiated as what I guided by emotions then we become the victim or puppet of our emotions. E.g. If you are feeling sad and low and that weighs you down and so you don’t feel like going to work, and finally you decide to take a leave, then you are being overpowered by our emotions. However if you say to yourself that before leaving for work, I will set my mind-set right so that I have a lovely day then you are ensuring a right approach. On the other extreme, if you decide to just push yourself and do all that is required at the cost of self-care, i.e. inhibiting our emotions, then even if you accomplish all your tasks but you won’t be able to enjoy the process or be mindful while doing it. At the end of the day, that will leave you feeling exhausted and overworked. The best idea would be to balance both ends of the extremities, this means modulating our emotions. So, going to work but waking up little early so that you have the time to explore your feelings and release the ones that are heavy and unhelpful. There are numerous techniques to achieve self-regulation:
- It’s important to start by taking full responsibility of all that we are feeling and stopping the blame game. When we blame someone we give away our power to manage our emotions as now some other person is deciding how we are supposed to feel. You would never want that to happen. So, to take our power back we need to stop blaming and take complete responsibility of how we feel.
- After acknowledging the feeling, we may label it by accurately identifying it. Sometimes, we may misjudge our emotions. E.g. we are feeling angry but deep below the surface we are feeling sad. Emotions are a circular process; this means they are verb and not a noun. They are transient and keep changing also they exists in layers like an onion. So, to dig deeper to find the root feeling we can ask ourselves various questions like:
- What makes me feel this way?
- Is it more related to the current event/person or does it remind me of a past incident which deeply affected me?
- Why did the situation/person trigger this feeling?
- What is my deeper belief regarding this situation/person?
- When else in the past I felt a similar way?
- Mindfulness: In this step we identify what exactly happened in the external world that caused troubling emotions and what is happening as a result in the body. Notice the physiological response e.g. change in breathing.
- Modulating: This step involves decreasing the grip of the emotions by allowing them to fully process. Close your eyes, notice your breathing and then shift to belly breathing where you intentionally send the breath deep in the abdomen as you inhale your belly inflates and as you exhale your belly deflates.
- Cognitive Reappraisal: By the time you reach the last step you should have released a major part of the heavy emotion and even though it may not be fully gone but these steps themselves empower you to look at the broader perspective as well. Here, we develop skills to replace our thoughts with healthy alternatives. E.g. I feel I am good for nothing, we can change it too, “Well, that is not fully accurate. I am good at things like (Mention your skills). I may be distorting the reality as my judgment is clouded by emotions. Before, I conclude let my emotion be fully settled.
Consistent practice of the above steps is scientifically proven to give good results.
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