As adults, there’s more pressure on us to keep it together. There’s a social construct that has been ingrained in our conditioning on how to behave. When we see a fellow adult acting “immature,” we brand that person as “childish.” What we don’t understand is that our prefrontal cortex is not fully developed till about the age of 25. The prefrontal cortex has been linked to cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. Who you might consider an adult at the age of 23 or 24, still have parts of their brain not fully developed. Until the age of 25, and even beyond that, we are still susceptible to emotional impulses. These impulses can severely impact the way we resolve conflicts. Some of us never learned how to be emotionally aware or how to regulate our behaviors.
The concept of outwardly keeping it together while internally falling apart does not seem to work anymore. We need a better cognitive-behavioral approach in the way we self regulate. The Zones of Regulation categorize the different ways we feel. It also provides strategies on how to become more aware of our feelings. The creator of the Zones of Regulation, Leah Kuypers, stated that we all encounter trying circumstances that test our limits from time to time. If we can recognize when we are becoming less regulated, we can do something about it. We can learn to manage our feelings and get ourselves to a healthy place.
As a counselor, I have learned a lot about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Just like CBT, the Zones of Regulation identify unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors. It supports emotional regulation by developing personal coping strategies that actually solve problems. It teaches us to notice our body signals and facial expressions. It also helps us identify that in others. We can even begin to detect triggers and read social contexts. Our level of self-awareness can be developed to the point where we begin to notice how our behaviors impact those around us, and how we can control these behaviors.
We are so easily triggered these days. It almost seems like the whole world is walking on eggshells. We listen to reply and attack, which is an inconsiderate social behavior. We should be listening to understand and create a connection. We should learn to accept people even if we disagree with their behaviors. Our experiences and the way we regulate our emotions can never be the same.
Finally, I’m not saying we should always be on guard when it comes to our emotional health. An emotionally relaxed person is more socially engaged and self-aware. A big part of regulating emotions has to do with social thinking. Being considerate of the feelings of others goes a long way in showing emotional maturity and emotional alertness.
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