Self-regulation is one of the five fundamental components that comprise emotional intelligence. It is defined as “the ability to control yourself and exhibit appropriate emotion and action dependant on the situation.” In simple terms, self-regulation means you act appropriately even though no one is forcing you too.

When we think of our potential, we have the power to do almost anything we want. No one will arrest us if we do not show up to work, and no one will scold us for eating something we probably shouldn’t be eating (you may be broke and fat, though). A self-regulated person understands the long term impact of their actions and is disciplined to make choices that lead to a greater future. No one may be forcing you to do something, but you’ll have to face the pied piper sooner or later.

Let’s take the oft-felt emotion of anger. When a situation or individual makes you angry, you are the only person who can stop yourself from losing control and flying into a fit of rage. A self-regulated person knows that even though they are fully capable of this, it will not do them any good. They choose to stay calm not because it is what they want, but because they know it is the right thing to do. This is an “extreme” example as we don’t often feel rage, but it’s important to know that the same self-regulation applies to more mundane situations.

Being self-regulated means you can choose your reaction to a situation before reacting. When analyzing how to best handle something, take into account the short and long term ramifications of each option. Ultimately, you choose the reaction that will be most beneficial to what you are trying to achieve.

Your boss: “Yeeaahhh I’m going to need you to come in on Suuunday.”

You: “I’m self-regulating my desire to scream.”