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Strength of the Week – Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the practiced ability to be aware of what is influencing our emotions and to keep our motivation and behaviour in check and manage it the best we can, for our best health and outcomes. You might remember the characters from the Disney Pixar animation Inside Out, which gave an endearing example about how our emotions work in concert. Self- regulation can be one of the most challenging character strengths to work on and nourishes the virtue of Temperance which protects us from excess. The Karate Kid (who can forget… “Wax on, wax off”?) is also another example of a film where the protagonist develops this strength well.

During Lent, we reflected on Jesus’ 40 days in the desert. We can imagine the thoughts and emotions that would have crossed his mind at that challenging time. As parents we might also empathise with Mary and Joseph as we imagine the enormous emotional upheaval they would have been experiencing while witnessing their son on his life journey.

Being able to manage self-regulation requires self-control and the ability to stay calm and look past the behavior of others around us that we can find abrasive or upsetting, or temptations, so that they don’t direct our response in ways that might not be helpful. It’s also being mindful of how we are feeling and what has contributed to us feeling that way at any given moment.

Mastering the art of self-regulation can be challenging for anyone and is an area where young people, in particular, can struggle. While there are many strategies that can support us in this journey, the practice of mindfulness is one which can increase our ability to attend to our self-regulation. This can be as simple as breathing practice and focusing on the breath. It anchors us and helps us to be present and to notice. At St Michael’s students have access to a brief mindfulness activity each day in the Notices, that they can readily access at any time, including from home, and there are also many classes practicing wherever possible.

We can all benefit from focusing on an area of our lives that could benefit from self- regulation and self- control (the use of technology, for example). Ironically, there are helpful apps that can help to keep track of how much time we spend on our devices! We can think about our current approach in any area of life and think about what we might alter so that important areas of life are not paying an unnecessary cost. We can use self- regulation to be a little better today than we were yesterday, leading us all to be the best we can be.

Warm wishes for a rewarding week!

Tonia Carfora, Year 7-9 Wellbeing Initiatives Leader