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Emotion Regulation – Naming the Emotion

Written by: Brittany Glaser, M.A., M.Div.
Emotion Regulation – Naming the Emotion

In our DBT class on Emotion Regulation, the first step that we work on can initially sound simple- naming the emotion. We work to first understand what the emotion is that we are dealing with before we try to tackle anything else.  

People come into our class often due to struggling with emotions that they find difficult, painful, or uncomfortable. They might feel like they are constantly on a rollercoaster of emotions or suffocating under the weight of emotions that last forever. If you feel either of these ways, then your initial inclination might be to want to learn how to change or get rid of those emotions.  

We want a way to “fix” them or make them go away as quickly as possible because they are painful and we do not want to feel them. Unfortunately, when we try to rush towards fixing, we can end up using tools that are not helpful for us long-term. We can avoid our emotions or use distractions to pretend they do not exist.  

In the short term, these methods can ease some of our emotional pain, but they usually implode in the long term.  

Before we go towards “fixing” or working to change our emotions, we first must acknowledge and understand them. We must identify our emotion and validate that it is okay to have it first. Just accurately naming and validating our emotions can quickly reduce their intensity.  

If we cannot accept how we feel, then we cannot make changes.  

That is why we always start there in our Emotion Regulation class. We learn tools to help us understand and identify what we are feeling and where it comes from. We also learn ways to validate ourselves. Once we have those skills down, then we shift to working on changing and managing the emotions themselves.  

If you are curious about our class or DBT in general, learn more here or by calling our office at (678) 893-5300.