Emotional Regulation and DBT: A Personal Journey to Overcoming Anxiety

How To Practice Mindfulness

March 4, 2024

As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I know firsthand the overwhelming nature of negative emotions. However, through learning emotional regulation skills, particularly through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), I have experienced a transformation in my ability to manage these emotions effectively. These skills not only helped me cope with social anxiety but also provided me with a toolkit to navigate various emotional challenges.

DBT, a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, is rooted in the concept of dialectics, emphasizing the balance between acceptance and change. It consists of four modules, with emotional regulation being one of them, aimed at helping individuals identify, understand, and manage their emotions in a healthy way.

One of the key skills I learned in DBT is recognizing and labeling emotions. This involves identifying what I am feeling in the moment, whether it’s anxiety, sadness, anger, or any other emotion. By acknowledging my emotions, I am better able to understand their triggers and respond to them appropriately.

Another valuable skill is practicing opposite action. This involves acting opposite to what the emotion is telling me to do. For example, if I feel the urge to isolate myself due to social anxiety, I would instead engage in social interactions, even if it’s uncomfortable at first. This helps me challenge my negative emotions and reduce their intensity over time.

Mindfulness is also a key component of DBT and emotional regulation. By practicing mindfulness, I learned to observe my thoughts and emotions without judgment, allowing them to come and go without getting overwhelmed by them. This has been particularly helpful in managing sudden waves of negative emotions.

Finally, building positive experiences is crucial in DBT. This involves engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment, even when not feeling up to it. By creating positive experiences, I am able to counterbalance negative emotions and build resilience over time.

I have found these skills to be incredibly beneficial not only in managing social anxiety but also in navigating various emotional challenges in my life. I encourage anyone struggling with their emotions to explore DBT and its principles. Here are some simple steps to start incorporating these skills into your life:

1. Identify Your Emotions: Take a moment to pause and identify what you are feeling. Use a feelings chart or journal to help label your emotions accurately.

2. Practice Opposite Action: When faced with a negative emotion, consider acting opposite to it. If you feel like avoiding a situation, try approaching it instead.

3. Mindfulness Meditation: Set aside a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breath and observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment.

4. Build Positive Experiences: Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, even if you don’t feel like it. These positive experiences can help counterbalance negative emotions.

5. Seek Professional Help: Consider seeking the guidance of a therapist trained in DBT. They can provide you with personalized strategies and support to effectively manage your emotions.

Emotional regulation is a journey, and it’s okay to have setbacks along the way. By incorporating these skills into your life, you can build resilience and improve your emotional well-being over time.



We believe big change starts with a single step.

Let’s take the first one together. Book a free 15-minute consultation with us to see if therapy is right for you!

book your consultation now