The biggest challenge to self-control is emotional regulation. Successful people know how to make their emotions servants rather than masters.”- Paul TP Wang.

Emotions are feelings derived from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships. Our feelings and emotions are an important part of our lives. They have a strong influence upon our actions and decisions. We feel frustrated if we can’t get a jar open. We feel happy when our loved ones come to meet us. It upset when we let someone down.

While these emotions are natural and inherent to our humanity, some people experience emotional volatility and instability. Emotionally volatile individuals tend to experience exaggerated mood changes. Such people are too dramatic, overly sensitive, overreact to situations, and experience anger issues. Although we all get mood swings every once in a while, some people often experience sudden and rapid changes in their emotional state. There are a wide range of reasons for this; past experiences, biological reasons, psychological reasons and much more contribute to this – and I could write another article dedicated to contributory factors alone.

An intense reaction to situations can seriously damage relationships and cause people to lose control at the worst possible time. Some people are more emotionally intelligent than others. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your feelings and those of others to make better decisions.

As I said, there are numerous reasons why some people are more emotionally volatile than others. A person may be exposed to a certain situation which might trigger an extreme reaction. A person might inherit emotional volatility from parents. However, one commonality that exists is that regardless of reasons and contributory factors, they tend to have poor emotional regulation.

Emotional regulation is the ability to influence one’s emotional state. Richard Davidson states, “Emotional regulation is extremely significant for a whole constellation of problems people encounter.” Emotional regulation allows you to handle stress and pressure and prevents you from cracking under pressure. It helps you earn respect and affection of people around you and helps you with your self-esteem and confidence.

Fortunately, emotional regulation is not necessarily something you are born with. You can learn how to control your emotions so they don’t get the better of you. Here, I’m sharing eight ways that you can try to learn how to reguklate your emotions.

Create Space

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl.

We don’t think before getting angry. We just get angry when something does not happen as we want it to. A good way to practice emotional regulation is to create space between the trigger and response. Take a pause and reflect before responding. Don’t let your emotions overpower your intelligence and values. Hopefully, once you master this skill, you will learn how to deal with emotionally overwhelming situations. Work out ways to buy yourself some time.

Identify your triggers

Being self-aware of yourself is always a good thing. Knowing about your triggers that transport you to a state of emotional instability allows you to better understand what you can do to help. You’ll potentially be able to nip it in the bud as a result. Being mindful of your stress triggers will allow you to cope with such feelings more effectively. When you recognise the neurobiological triggers that make you feel like you cannot do anything, you will be in a position to reflect on them. This reflection will help you react to such a situation better since you would be aware of the triggers and have time to find healthy ways to cope with them beforehand.

Moreover, identifying your stress triggers can also give you some control over your emotions. Figuring out what throws us is essential to making yourself feel better when you are struggling with volatile emotions. Evaluate your triggers. Why are you feeling this way? Did you recently encounter any trauma? Is it the great deal of stress that is producing such feelings? Don’t be afraid of facing your emotions. Figure out the patterns associated with the situations when you feel strong emotions to cope with your emotional instability more effectively. 

Practice positive self-talk

Self-talk is the inner conversation that we have with ourselves. These inner talks can be both positive and negative. If you want to reduce your strong emotions, engage in positive self-talk more often. Positive conversations with yourself can help you be more confident and empowered and improve your performance and mental and physical well-being.

Research shows how you talk to yourself can have far-reaching effects on your body and mind. Negative pep-talks can generate fear and shame and make you feel more negative about certain situations. Engage in proactive self-talk and try to lift your spirits. Instead of dreading failing, try reminding yourself how well you have been doing in training.

Research supports the effects of positive pep-talk on performance. A study on a musical group showed that and half hour sessions of CBT cognitive behavioural therapy, aimed at replacing negative thoughts and energy with positive ones, led to a huge improvement in the performance quality.

Research shows that showing compassion and reminding ourselves about our strengths can greatly influence the way we feel about ourselves and handle our emotions. In addition to practising positive self-talk, you can also try to practice gratitude, self-care, meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques to understand and react to our emotions effectively.

Be more adaptable

Being adaptable means being open to unexpected and diverse situations. When you are adaptable, you work without boundaries and embrace challenges instead of ignoring or avoiding them. You realise that challenges are a part of life and are there to test your endurance and strength. Emotional volatility makes you less adaptable in life. You experience intense emotions whenever something does not go exactly as you wanted it to.

Adaptability strengthens your coping mechanism and makes you more emotionally stable. You can build your adaptability skills by learning from others. Observe and note how people around you exhibit adaptability skills. Learn from their example how to navigate change and become more willing to change. Another approach to being more adaptable is being more optimistic in life.

Being optimistic can be challenging, especially if you are accustomed to viewing everything critically. It requires you to entirely reset and reframe the way you see things. Optimism allows you to cope with your emotions in a much more effective way and to live a long, healthy, stress-free life. A recent study showed that “Optimistic individuals tend to have goals and the confidence to reach them; thus, optimism may foster health-promoting habits.”

Be more willing

You should also be more willing to make mistakes to become more adaptable. If you are very risk averse, you will have extreme reactions to errors and mistakes. Since our lives are hardly perfect, learning to deal with mistakes helps control our emotions. Even though mistakes can be frustrating and annoying, they allow you to polish your ability to deal with the consequences of your mistake.

Working on your ability to deal with the mess you create helps you become more adaptable since these mistakes expose you to newfound information and knowledge. In addition, being more adaptable helps reduce the feelings of helplessness when we find something beyond our control. Building adaptability skills allows us to become less controlling.

We accept that some things are beyond our control and embrace surrender. This helps us go with the flow and be less resistant to change.

Read this article for more on this topic: 11 Ways to be More Optimistic.


The first step of emotional regulation is identifying how you feel and putting a name to that feeling. For example, when you don’t feel good, try putting a name to this feeling. Ask yourself, am I upset because someone let me down? Am I feeling helpless because everything feels like it is beyond my control? Am I ashamed because someone made me feel small? Acknowledge your feeling, and then try naming them. Try identifying the exact emotion you are feeling at the moment. You don’t have to be critical about it. Just be fully aware of the emotion getting the better of you. You can even describe your feeling on paper to help you identify the emotion. Hopefully, this practice will tell you the emotion that makes you less emotionally stable, and you will be in a better position to cope with it.

Recognise your power of choice

A great way to practice self-regulation is to realise that you have the power of choice. You have control over how you react to situations. You can either be too sensitive and overreact to situations, or take a deep breath, observe your thoughts and feelings, put your current situation in some perspective and then react. RecognisingRecognising the fact that you have the power of choice can empower you to face the challenges that life presents you with more effectively. It also reduces feelings of helplessness and boosts your self-confidence since it helps you realise that how you react to situations is under your control. Moreover, acknowledging the fact that you have the power of choice increases your self-control which helps you emotionally regulate yourself. So, be mindful of your power to influence the way you feel.

Prioritise positive relationships in your life

“Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.” – Mark Twain.

Maybe the reason you have such extreme negative reactions to situations is that you surround yourself with the wrong people. Even though it is important to improve your ability to alter your responses to avoid undesirable behaviours, it is important to stay away from people that make you react extremely.

Stay away from people who are not conducive to your emotional health and who make your emotions control you. Work on having positive relationships with people. Your relationships greatly influence your behaviour and the way you react to situations. Positive relationships make you feel good about yourself and allow you to have a more positive outlook on life. They make you more resilient and empower you to take challenges head-on.

Toxic and negative relationships, on the other hand, make you feel inadequate and small. These relationships can negatively affect your mental and physical well-being. So, follow the advice of Mark Twain and prioritise positive relationships in your life and get rid of toxic relationships.


Meditation offers a plethora of physical and mental health benefits ranging from stronger immunity to improved sleep. Practising meditation can allow you to regulate your emotions effectively by reducing stress. Meditation promotes calmness, increases inner harmony, and improves overall mental well-being by facilitating deep thinking and self-reflection. An increase in stress causes our body to increase the production and release of the stress hormone cortisol. A high level of cortisol is associated with fatigue, headaches, accumulated abdominal fat, anxiety, increased blood pressure, and sleep disruption. Mindful meditation reduces stress levels by forcing the mind into a deep state of relation and tranquillity, enhancing emotional health. Meditation eliminates all the worries, stress-causing scenarios, and jumbled thoughts from your mind and allows you to listen to your inner voice. Research has shown that meditation may provide relief against stress-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and irritable bowel syndrome.

Final Word

Learning how to emotionally regulate yourself allows you to say true to your values. It makes you more resilient and able to face tough circumstances in life. Although learning to control your emotions can be challenging, it is not impossible. Identifying your triggers, practising positive self-talk, and being aware of your emotions work the best when practising emotional regulation. When you learn how to control your emotions, you no longer desire to control others. This means learning how to be emotionally stable helps you establish healthy relationships with others. If you feel that you have not made any progress and self-help tips are not working for you, feel free to reach out to a mental health professional for help. A trained and certified therapist can teach you how to practice self-regulation in your day-to-day life and become a more emotionally stable individual.


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