The Emotional Regulation Process Model Emotional Check in Questions

The Emotional Regulation Process Model — Emotional Check in Questions

When we are calm, we make better decisions. It can be difficult in our modern world filled with stress. A simple emotional regulation process model can solve this issue. It can help us stay in control of our emotions and make quality decisions.

How to Maintain Emotional Equilibrium

Daily life presents us with challenges which can be frustrating.  (1) We can also encounter things that are scary or frightening.  So knowing how to manage your emotional response is a skill that will help you reduce your stress level and think more clearly.

If you are going to conduct accurate research or inner work, you need to be as open-minded and unbiased as possible. Remaining calm when you are dealing with sensitive issues is difficult, but it can be done.  Adding a simple check in method will help you stay on track, avoid emotional distress and yield better results.

Emotional check in questions are tools which alert us to emotions that could affect our ability to think clearly.   This process is especially helpful when dealing with issues that involve your core beliefs.  Using this method ensures we base our decisions on evidence rather than emotions.

This process is ideal for everyday life. It is a critical tool for research and inner work. Many people use it with any social media because these platforms can elicit emotions.

Challenging our Beliefs

When we encounter ideas which do not align with our paradigm, it creates a conflict. This conflict may prompt the “fight, flight, or freeze” automatic reaction.  When we cannot resolve the difference between our beliefs and new data that can cause a pain response, it will manifest as physical or mental pain, or both.  It causes headaches, back, and muscle pain, to severe anxiety and anger.  It causes the psychological condition of cognitive dissonance.

We use this emotional check process model to minimize the emotional impact of this internal conflict and regain control of our feelings.  It’s a quick break, but it saves time in the long run. Checking our emotions ensures we stay on track and can use common sense to guide our thinking.  We know we that conflicts will arise, so we use this process to minimize emotional interference.

However, this kind of dilemma also creates an opportunity for us to change what we believe.  These internal battles present us with some of the best opportunities for personal growth. They help us find out if we are wrong about something. It’s the opportunity to face any fears we have about our sacred ground, and we know fears and phobias are limits and boundaries that imprison us.

The Emotional Regulation Process Model

This process is composed of five initial progressive steps. You only use the step necessary to ensure you are not influenced by your emotions.  We have more options if the first five steps don’t work.

When you reach emotional equilibrium, you can go back to your research or inner work.  Stopping regularly to evaluate our feelings will ensure that we minimize internal bias. It’s easy, takes only a few moments to implement, makes your research more accurate, and saves you time in the long run.

Here’s a synopsis of the model:

1) Stop
2) Assess and Ask Questions
3) Write
4) Contemplate Without Emotional Attachment
5) Extra Steps

A. Talk to Some
B. Remove the Source
C. Travel
D. Self-Care
E. Don’t Give Up

Sometimes it only takes a few long breaths to regain control, but other times, you need to take some extra steps to regain control.  Every situation is different.

When something threatens your sacred ground, the core values of your belief system, it triggers the fight, flight, or freeze reaction.  When this system is triggered, the body releases a host of hormones to power our muscles and shut off pain receptors. However, the chemicals released by this emergency system are harmful to higher thinking centers of the cortex. Never fear, our brain has a built-in failsafe which blocks blood flow when this emergency system is engaged.

When the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism engages, the primitive mind takes over.  It makes us faster and stronger, but we cannot engage the higher thinking centers which are needed for making the best decisions.

So this process helps us regain composure.  It teaches us how to calm the active mind so that we can change the focus of thinking, return to and maintain emotional equilibrium. (2)

You will find many practical uses for this method.  It is an integral part of many inner work methods like the Enneagram Profile, Exploring Memories and Comparative Analysis.

We do not make the best rational decisions when we are in a highly emotional state of fear or anger.  Here’s how we can learn to control this triggering system.

Emotional Check in Questions

emotional check process to calm the active mind

Step One — Stop and Calm the Active Mind

The first step is the most important.  Pause and take two deep breaths. This simple step will usually stop the active mind long enough for us to find out what’s going on with our feelings.  Learn to pause every 15 to 20 minutes.  Stopping four times an hour seems like a lot.  However, once you get into the rhythm, it does not feel intrusive.  A pro tip is to use a kitchen timer.

What is step one?  Stop and take two deep breaths.  Two breaths is all it normally takes to stop negative emotional momentum. Now are ready for step two.

Doing these breaks gives you time to summarize what you’ve just learned.  Plus, the space assesses how the new data affects your emotional state.  If you do this, you’ll never lose control.

This emotional regulation process model is both preventative and restorative.  Building a habit of conducting regular emotional checks is a worthwhile preventive measure, as it helps to keep you calm and reduce stress while making sure you think clearly. It saves time.  If you find you are out of balance and losing control, you can start the process.

Whenever you engage in research involving your worldview, you will be grateful for these breaks. Sometimes we aren’t aware we are getting upset until it is too late. It’s better to stop and assess.

Step two — Assess Emotions with Emotional Check-in Questions

If you stop to assess things and feel anxious, upset, or afraid, it’s time to dig deeper. Similarly, whenever you feel anxious, angry, or fearful, stop.  If you feel physical pain, stop! Don’t ignore the signs of mental or physical discomfort because pain is how your body tells you something important that needs your attention.  The effects of cognitive dissonance are real.

What is step two?  After you stop and take two deep breaths, ask yourself these questions.  It takes only 10 seconds.

  • Ask yourself, how do I feel?
  • What’s the label for my feelings?
  • Where is this feeling originate?
  • Is this feeling related to other issues?
  • Is it dissipating or the same?

You can have adverse reactions whenever running into something which challenges your beliefs.  So, when you become angry or fearful, stop.  Otherwise, your research will not give you accurate results.

It’s important to remember that everyone is susceptible to the effects of negative programming, which comes from religion and politics. That’s why we take steps to control our feelings.  When we are anxious, angry, or fearful, it will affect our thinking.  So, it will distort our conclusions.

How long should you wait?  Wait until you are reasonably calm.  Everyone is different.  It depends upon your reaction to the stimulus.  It can take an hour or more to calm the active mind, especially if you trigger powerful negative emotions of anger or hate.   You might need a few days off.

Step Three — Time for Action, Write About It

What is step three?  If you are not upset.  You are done.  If you have emotions that are lingering, write about it.

Write about both the facts and your feelings.  Use a spiritual journal to record your thoughts, then ask yourself some questions about your reaction.  It’s helpful to keep a record of your responses to help you spot any trends.  Emotional check in questions will often bring up the same issue and same emotional chain.

Then write about the answers you find when asking yourself questions.  What you discover about your reaction is as important as the data.  What patterns do you see?

Putting your emotions on paper can help clarify the issues, plus it also gives you a safe outlet to express your feelings. And, it’s an excellent way to sort out the facts from your feelings.  Writing is a simple process will help you regain and maintain emotional equilibrium.  It will calm the active mind.

Step Four — Contemplate Without Emotional Attachment

And what is step four?  Look at the answers you wrote in step 2.    If you still have strong emotions tied to what you’ve uncovered, then progress to step five.

Go back to your answers on the emotional check in questions.  Ask yourself these questions.  Does this data trigger my feelings? If so, why?  What does this data mean? Can I review the issues without negative emotions? If so, go back to work.

If you can’t think about it without becoming upset, then skip it.  It is okay.  Some people can handle emotional attachment better than others.   If you can’t separate your feelings from the data, skip this for now and try another technique.  Over time, this process will help you develop your self-observational skills.

For some people, this strategy helps lessen the emotional impact of data that challenges their beliefs.  Try going back to step two and write more about your feelings.

Step Five — Extra Steps If the Simple Process Doesn’t Work

If you have physical pain or have anxiety, which coincides with the conflict of new data, it is likely that you are suffering from what psychologists call cognitive dissonance.  This pain is real.  You are wrestling with something that conflicts with your beliefs.  The emotional regulation process model accounts for this by adding some other practical options to deal with this condition.

One of the most common reasons people get stuck is they cannot remove the source of the negative social programming. If continue to expose yourself, it will increase the effects of cognitive dissonance.

Second, realizing our opinions based on mythology and superstition is hard to swallow.  When we accept superstition as part of our worldview, it can also impact our identity. It’s hard to change something that becomes a part of your self-identity. Here’s what you can do.

A. Talk to Someone

A good option is to talk with someone about your dilemma who is unbiased.  Don’t seek support from someone likely to who is biased and is likely to reinforce your current beliefs.

B. Eliminate The Source

Eliminate or reduce the sources which reinforce your current beliefs.  It is often the hardest step, that’s because group hypnosis manipulation tactics they use are addictive.  The most common sources which support our worldview come from religion.  Minimizing exposure becomes more difficult if religion dominates your life.

Take a break from the source, the research, or social media.  Give yourself some time to process the information.  One thing that always helps is to stop watching and listening to religious TV and radio programs.  It’s a simple way to get immediate relief.

Realize religious propaganda is will always exacerbate emotional issues rather than make them better.   Recognizing and eliminating the source of your conflict is an essential aspect of the emotional check process. Don’t overlook it.  Minimizing your exposure to negative cultural programming is vital.

C. Travel

A trip can get out of your comfort zone. If you can’t travel, watch TV shows about traveling around the world.  The goal is to remove yourself from the influence of the cultural narrative.  It is an opportunity to see how other people value things differently.   New surroundings are an antidote for the effects of cultural programming.  It will not only reduce exposure, but it gives you a fresh perspective.

D. Self-Care

Engage in proper self-careCreate a space to achieve and maintain emotional equilibrium.  It takes your active mind off the issues and gives you a chance to gain composure.  Sometimes focusing on something else is exactly what you need to sort things out.

E. Don’t Give Up

Continue to use steps two and three of the process above.  If you are doing research, you are also engaging in inner work, which is exposing our sacred ground.

Final Thoughts on The Emotional Regulation Process Model

With the world changing so rapidly, we can get caught up in our emotions.  Learning to pause and regain control of our emotions is essential to our everyday lives. It’s a process you can use anywhere and anytime.  The emotional check in questions can be done in less than a minute.

Using this process will make your research more accurate.  It will save you time in the long term and reduce the stress of investigating challenging ideas.  These brief breaks are the researcher’s quality check.  They help to keep you on track.

Facing the data that conflicts with closely held beliefs is serious inner work.  This kind of research often brings up powerful feelings that trigger our “fight, flight, or freeze” reaction.  So, we need to control this reaction.

When our primitive instincts are engaging, we must take steps to regain and maintain emotional equilibrium. You will find other uses for this method when you learn to calm the active mind.  You can use it effectively during meetings.  So, emotional checks are a necessity for everyone on the spiritual journey. (1)  Please don’t overlook or underestimate the value of using this emotional regulation process model.


(1) Integrating emotion regulation and emotional intelligence traditions: a meta-analysis:
(2) The Immediate and Lasting Effect of Emotion Regulation in Adolescents: An ERP Study:
(3) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

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