Discovering the road towards greater composure
Andrea Nicole B. Ferrer RPm, SportPsych Consulting Philippines Edgar K. Tham Reg.Psych(S’pore), SportPsych Consulting HQ (Singapore)
For years, people have strived to discover the secret in managing our emotions. Numerous answers have sprouted, but a recent research may suggest a new significant finding.
Healthy emotional regulation is a vital part of living, however, researchers have found that it’s not just about finding the “’right’ strategies.” Testing the strategy-situation-fit hypothesis (defined in the study as “congruency between emotion-regulation strategies and the contexts in which they are used”), researchers have found that being flexible may help in the proper management of our emotions.
This study, conducted by Haines et al. (2016) and published in Psychological Science, involved participants who completed well-being questionnaires and were asked to tell how they dealt with their feelings and how much control they had over the circumstances. They were also observed ten times for a week.
The researchers found that
Participants with relatively high well-being used reappraisal more in situations they perceived as lower in controllability and less in situations they perceived as higher in controllability. In contrast, [they] found little evidence for an association between greater well-being and greater mean use of reappraisal across situations.
Also, when a person cannot immediately do anything to change his or her environment, the propensity to assess their surroundings increases. This may cause a person to not do anything active in coping with the situation. The more mentally fit a person is, the more frequent they may tend to modify the way they cope with their surroundings.
It appears that it is best to let emotions flow in a flexible atmosphere. On the other hand, the opposite may be more conducive in a rigid setting. As the authors added, they:
…found that people with higher well-being increased their use of reappraisal as contexts became less controllable, whereas individuals with lower well-being showed the opposite pattern. Thus, our findings support the view that the adaptiveness of emotion-regulation strategies crucially depends on situational factors in real-life contexts.
Reflection & Action Plan
Here are some lessons and strategies to help you gain greater composure in situations that matter the most to you:
Reflect on past situations, where relevant, in which you managed to handle stressful situations well. What went well? What did you learn about yourself?
Be mentally prepared to be more flexible especially when under stressful situations.
Mentally rehearse how you wish to reappraise or reassess the situation you will be engaging yourself in before you engage the situation.
No matter what the situation, always keep your thoughts positive and optimistic.
Remember to apply relaxation techniques (e.g., breathing, centering) where needed.
To ensure longer-term effectiveness, implement a year-long mental skills training program.
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