3 Ways to Develop Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is an important skill in leading a whole-hearted and fulfilling life. Subsequently, in this post I am going to discuss the following –

  • What is Self-Regulation?
  • So, What?
  • 3 Ways to Develop Self-Regulation

Let’s get started…


What is Self-Regulation?

There are many definitions on self-regulation, including –

  • “…the fact of something such as an organisation regulating itself without intervention from external bodies.” ~ Google and English Oxford Dictionary
  • “control by oneself or itself, as in an economy, business organization, etc., especially such control as exercised independently of governmental supervision, laws, or the like.” ~ Dictionary.com
  • “Self-regulation is the ability to manage your own energy states, emotions, behaviours and attention, in ways that are socially acceptable and help achieve positive goals, such as maintaining good relationships, learning and maintaining wellbeing,” ~ Stuart Shanker
  • Self-regulation is the conscious and non-conscious processes by which people regulate their thoughts, emotions, attention, behaviour, and impulses. People generate thoughts, feelings and actions and adapt those to the attainment of personal goals.”Mark Pettinelli

Do these definitions relate to your knowledge and understanding of self-regulation? If not, what would you add? Personally, I relate to the third and fourth definitions best as they are clear to me.


So, What?

Now we are on the same page about self-regulation, would you agree it is important? Let’s now look at how we can start to develop it…


3 Ways to Develop Self-Regulation

Before we look at the 3 ways to develop self-regulation, please remember self-regulation is an individual thing, so one person’s strategy for self-regulation may not work for someone else. Therefore, it is important to identify what works for you and that will take self-awareness and practice.

Following are 3 ways to develop self-regulation –

1. Practice Mindfulness –

Mindfulness in everyday life is the ultimate challenge and practice. It is a way of being, of seeing, of tapping into the full range of our humanity – often seen in playful children fully experiencing life in the here and now. Mindfulness is described by Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994) “as paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally” (p.4).

Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein (2010) report “in Sanskrit, it’s known as smrti, from the root word smr, meaning “to remember” and in Pali, the language of the earliest Buddhist scriptures, it’s known as sati (mindfulness)” (p.15). Mindfulness can help develop self-regulation by managing emotions, interrupting automatic-pilot and delaying gratification. However, mindfulness is not a one size-fits-all approach, so be aware it may take a while to discover the correct mindfulness activity to support the development of self-regulation.

2. Identify Your Stressors –

Causes of stress are often referred to as stressors. Stressors can be a thing, person or situation. There can be many stressors in life, including your –

  • Body – for example: ageing, diet, exercise, injuries, illness, puberty and menopause;
  • Environment – for example: pollution, weather, noise, traffic and chemicals;
  • Finances – for example: income, insurances and superannuation;
  • Job – for example: boss, colleagues, deadlines, expectations, job security and long hours;
  • Mind – for example: beliefs, expectations, memories, perceptions, thoughts and values;
  • Relationships – for example: colleagues, business, family, friends, partner and spouse; and
  • Major or Critical Incidents – for example: accidents, death, divorce and emergencies.

Once you know your stressors and specific triggers to the stress, you can then consciously choose what step to make next. It’s impossible to completely get rid of stress (remember some stress is good for you!). However, the goal is to manage stress.

3. Develop Your Emotional Literacy –

Emotional literacy is the building block of emotional intelligence. Subsequently, when we develop our own emotional literacy we can access and utilise the information gained about ourselves and others (which then develops self-regulation). Without the skill of emotional literacy, emotions would remain confusing and misleading and impact on the relationship we have with ourselves and other people.


Over to You…

What other ways have you found useful to self-regulate? Please feel free to share your responses below in the comments section.

Remember, as you move towards developing self-regulation we have a choice on how to respond to each situation.


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?



Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. New York, USA: Hyperion.

Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The ability model of emotional intelligence: Principles and updates. Emotion Review, 8 1-11.

Stahl, B., & Goldstein, E. (2010). A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. Oakland, USA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

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