Friday, November 30, 2007

A Unique Approach to Emotional Self Regulation

Self regulation refers to a person's ability to monitor and evaluate oneself, activate skills, and pursue chosen ends. Key to self regulation is the capacity to detect discrepancies between current and desired behavior. Such self regulation has been found to be important in sport, and it is essential to building a trading career.

A counter-intuitive approach to building emotional self-regulation is to train yourself to control the facial and muscular expressions of emotion during emotional periods and to rehearse the facial and muscular expression of desired emotions. Biofeedback can be especially helpful for this method.

The gist of the technique is to use imagery to evoke a variety of situations that are associated with negative emotions and high stress. While vividly imagining these scenarios, the individual makes conscious efforts to keep facial muscles, arms, legs, and neck very loose and relaxed. Alternatively, the person can evoke positive images of success, happiness, etc. and make conscious efforts to assume facial expressions and body postures that express positive emotion.

The counter-intuitive aspect to this approach is that you are using the body to change the mind. As William James noted, we can feel happy or sad because our bodies are expressing those emotions. By rehearsing control over the negative expression of emotion and by building greater access to physical expressions of positive emotion, we can greatly aid self regulation during times of challenging performance.


Biofeedback as a Performance Tool