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  • Writer's pictureMental Gear Closet

Self Control is NOT Self Regulation

Updated: Jan 22

I twitch whenever I hear the phrase "control my feelings." I understand what it means, however after years as a therapist I've learned that there is a big difference between control and regulation. Here is a quick look at these two:

SELF CONTROL = clamping down and shutting out; I'm not understanding what I'm feeling in the moment, or working with the source of the feeling to gain mastery, but rather tolerating the moment. I'm getting through, but my body may still be keyed up and in stress mode.

SELF REGULATION = actually changing how I feel in the moment by using various relaxation and other skills. I'm physically calming my body which allows me to then decide how I want to respond, and to do so with greater ease and less willpower.

Recently, I've become aware of a third critical yet under recognized category: Self Expression. What I mean by this is:

SELF EXPRESSION = the act of physically expressing with intent to release a given feeling so that it is not just tolerated, toned down or repressed, but rather expelled from the body. However, this includes doing so in a way that is safe to oneself and others.

Where do you normally fall within these three categories? Which do you tend to gravitate toward and where could you use greater tools?


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