Paolo Assandri
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Do you want a more peaceful life? Learn to self-regulate!

"You have power over your mind, not over external events.
Realise this and you will find strength"

Marcus Aurelius

In the journey of life, we are often faced with a wide spectrum of emotions: from joy to anxiety, from sadness to anger. These emotions can be intense and overwhelming, but they are an integral part of the human experience.

However, what makes the difference is how we manage these emotions, how we regulate our emotional state to navigate through life's challenges with balance and resilience. In psychological terms, what makes the difference is our capacity for self-regulation.

What is Self-Regulation?

Self-regulation refers to the ability to control and manage one's emotions effectively and constructively. It includes awareness of one's emotions, the skill to regulate emotional reactions in stressful situations and the ability to adapt flexibly to the challenges of everyday life. In other words, self-regulation enables people not to be overwhelmed by their emotions, but to manage them so that they can deal with difficult situations calmly, clearly and wisely.

How is Emotional Self-Regulation Developed?

Self-regulation is a skill that can be learned and developed throughout life. It is based on emotional education, personal experience and learning through feedback from the social environment. However, it is also a skill that can be cultivated and enhanced through specific interventions, such as psychotherapy.

During psychotherapy, individuals learn to explore their emotions in a deeper way, identify patterns of thought and behaviour that can negatively influence their emotional reactions, and acquire new strategies for managing stress and coping with life's challenges. Through the work with an experienced therapist, individuals can develop greater emotional awareness and learn practical techniques to regulate their emotional state.

Self-Regulation and Neuroscience

Modern findings in neuroscience confirm the importance of emotional self-regulation for mental well-being and optimal brain functioning. Numerous studies have shown that the practice of emotional self-regulation techniques, such as mindfulness and deep breathing, can positively influence brain structure and function.

For example, mindfulness has been associated with changes in grey matter density in brain regions involved in emotional regulation and cognition. Furthermore, the practice of deep breathing has been correlated with reduced activity in the 'fear circuit' neural network, which is associated with anxiety and stress.

Benefits of Psychotherapy in Self-Regulation

Psychotherapy offers a safe and supportive environment in which people can explore and empower their self-regulation skills. They can learn to identify the triggers of their emotions, understand the thought patterns that influence their emotional reactions, and develop new strategies for managing stress and coping with life's challenges.

Furthermore, psychotherapy provides a unique opportunity to explore the deep roots of one's emotions and to work through past experiences that can influence how we feel and react to current situations. Through a process of exploration and deep understanding, psychotherapy clients can free themselves from harmful emotional patterns and develop greater awareness and control over their emotional world.

In conclusion, self-regulation is a fundamental skill for psycho-physical well-being. Through psychotherapy, individuals can learn to develop and enhance this skill, paving the way for an emotionally balanced and satisfying life. If you are facing difficulties in self-regulating your emotions or wish to learn new strategies to manage stress and improve your emotional well-being, consider embarking on a therapeutic journey. Psychotherapy can offer a safe and supportive environment in which to explore these issues in depth, promoting personal growth and emotional well-being.


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Author: Paolo Assandri 
is a HCPC Registered Counselling Psychologist and a UKCP Registered Full Clinical Psychotherapist. He is also a fully qualified Italian psychologist and psychotherapist (Ordine degli Psicologi del Piemonte). He lives and works in London offering counselling and psychotherapy.

This exercise is not intended to replace any kind of medical/psychological therapy. Its only purpose is to increase individual perception of well-being. If you need medical or psychological support, please contact a qualified health practitioner. Authors, producers, consultants involved in the production of this exercise are not responsible for any psychological or physical injury which could happen during or after completing the activity explained in this article.

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