P.O. Box 99, 400 - 5th Avenue, Kenaston, SK S0G 2N0
Phone: 306-252-2182
Email: greg.mcjannet@sunwestsd.ca

News Details

17Oct 2017

Counsellor Quotes

Counselor Quotes                                                 November, 2017

“Changing what we do is the key to changing how we feel.”

You may have heard the words “Self-Regulation” around the school this year as part of the PeBL initiative.  An important component of Self-Regulation is Emotional Regulation.  Emotional Regulation is learning to manage our emotions in an effective way.  We have all seen the reaction of a toddler whose toy has been taken away, or they are denied something they want, or whose caregiver has left the room! Most likely the reaction would have involved tears and screaming.  Toddlers live in a world of emotional extremes because they have not yet learned to identify their emotions or how to reasonably respond to them.

As we grow, most of us learn to manage our emotions in more effective ways. We learn to understand how we are feeling, to put our feelings in perspective and to reduce the intensity of our emotional reactions when necessary.  However, many children and youth do not learn to self-regulate and continue to experience their emotions in unmanageable extremes.  This can be seen in actions like, slamming books on a desk, yelling, storming out of a room, and isolating themselves and/or avoiding school for a prolonged period of time.   In these situations, the child or youth has had a strong emotional reaction, and has not been able to effectively manage that reaction, and as a result, it is now impacting their daily functioning.  They are struggling with Emotional Regulation. 

                The keys to emotional regulation are the abilities to identify, understand and effectively respond to our emotional experiences.  These skills are extremely important because they are associated with positive mental and emotional health in children and teens. When a person is not able to use healthy and effective strategies to manage their emotions, this is often referred to as being emotionally dysregulated.  Emotional Dysregulation has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders (Berking & Whitley, 2014).   Emotional Dysregulation may also lead youth to seek out unhealthy strategies to quell their overwhelming emotions, such as drugs & alcohol, or self-injury. 

            It is important to help children and youth understand their emotions and to learn that their emotions are intricately tied to their cognitive processes…or the way they THINK about situations.  The way they think about a situation and what they do, or the action they take, will result in how they feel and ultimately how their body feels (energized or sluggish). Imagine that our behaviour is like a car in which the two wheels at the back represent feeling and how our body feels and the two front wheels represent doing and thinking. It is by changing the direction of the two front wheels that we change the direction of the car. In other words, to change how you feel, change what you do and/or what you are thinking.

The Golden Rule is:

 if you want to change how you feel, begin by changing what you are doing or what you are thinking.

Example: if I feel tired and tense and stressed and I go for a brisk, ten minute walk, even though I don't feel like it, I am likely to have more energy and to be in a better mood afterwards. Here I have done something (gone for a walk) which has changed my physiology (increased energy) and now I feel better.

So in order to bring about change in our lives, we must do something different OR change what we want. If I want to be a good athlete but I spend my mornings in bed, I must change what I do - get up and start running instead of snoozing - OR change what I want - perhaps decide that what I really want out of life is to be a couch potato.

Our thoughts are under our control. They wander off on their own every few minutes (if not every few seconds!). But often we need to be willing to change what we think in order to change what we do.

Three basic questions that I often ask people are:

  1. What do you want?
  2. What are you doing to get what you want?
  3. Is it working?

Changing what we do is the key to changing how we feel and to getting what we want.

The only person I can really control is myself.  If I think I can control others I am moving in the direction of frustration. If I think others are to blame for all that goes on in my life, I will tend to do nothing and again head for frustration. There may indeed be things that "happen" to us and for which we are not personally responsible but we can choose what we do about these things.

We are products of the past but we do not have to go on being its victims.

Sue Mills –

Sun West School Division Child and Youth Counselor

(email – sue.mills@sunwestsd.ca) (cell) 306-567-8562