When you hear the term emotional regulation, do your thoughts predominantly go to regulating negative emotions? For example, controlling your anger or managing your anxiety. It’s common for us to have this association but regulating our positive emotions is an equally important skill.
The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence have a helpful acronym, PRIME, which we can use to help us effectively shift, or regulate, our emotional states.
Starting with the P – one way of regulating unwanted emotions is trying to prevent them from arising. This will require you to consider your environment and your behaviours.
The R stands for reduce – and this is the skill of down-regulating a high activation emotion that is unhelpful for you achieving your goal. For example, you may choose to go for a walk, or talk with a friend to dial down your unwanted emotion of anxiety.
The next three letters of the PRIME acronym refer to regulating positive emotions, and how you may think of ways to initiate, maintain, or enhance wanted emotions.
For example, you may wish to use music to help you initiate a desired emotional state, you may wish to maintain your positive mood by sending a friendly text or eating a healthy snack, or you may wish to enhance your state by watching an inspiring video.
It is empowering to understand that you can regulate your emotional state, and we invite you to use the PRIME acronym to assist your ongoing development of emotional intelligence.
Would you like to PRIME your day? We encourage you to choose just one emotion to focus your awareness on for the day. You may choose an unpleasant emotion that you wish to prevent or reduce, or you may choose a pleasant emotion that you wish to initiate, maintain, or enhance. The question to ask yourself is what particular emotion would help or hinder my day?
You may choose to Prevent anger or frustration, Reduce anxiety or annoyance, Initiate gratitude or joy, Maintain contentment or hope, or Enhance calmness or curiosity.
At the end of the day, you may like to check-in on how your intention of PRIME(ing) your day went. Look for little wins, where you felt you were able to feel slightly more in control of regulating your chosen emotion. Don’t be disheartened if your positive intentions didn’t fully come to fruition, you can always practice it again tomorrow!