Emotional regulation is not something that gets taught in school. Unfortunately, many of us have to learn this skill once we become adults and begin to see that we may be struggling with regulating our emotions.
In this article I will share with you 5 books on emotional regulation. I’ve struggled with regulating my emotions for the better part of my adult life and it wasn’t until I started therapy that I realised it’s a skill I can develop.
I hope these resources help you deepen your understanding into your emotions and allow you to learn the tools to feel more in control of how you feel.
1. “The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook” by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. Wood, and Jeffrey Brantley
This educational book + workbook is a popular resource for those seeking to understand and apply the principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
This workbook provides practical exercises based on DBT, aiming to help you learn and internalize core skills to deal with various emotional and behavioral challenges.
The book is structured around the four mail skill sets that DBT focuses on: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.
- Mindfulness: This section covers the foundational skill of DBT: mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the current moment, without judgment. Exercises in this section will help you cultivate a mindful approach to your thoughts, emotions, and surroundings.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: This section provides tools for managing interpersonal conflicts, setting boundaries, making requests, and saying no. It will help you understand and navigate social situations without compromising your needs or rights.
- Emotion Regulation: Here you will be introduced to strategies to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions. This includes understanding the triggers for certain emotional responses and finding healthier ways to cope with strong emotions.
- Distress Tolerance: Life is filled with stressors, and not all of them can be changed or avoided. This section provides strategies to tolerate and survive distress without resorting to self-destructive behaviors.
This workbook has been instrumental in me learning about emotional regulation. I used this resource as a supplement to my work in therapy. Every single section resonated with me deeply and I felt like the authors knew exactly how I’ve been feeling and what I’ve been struggling with.
This book is not only an educational resource but also a practical guide that will help you learn the skills and tools for emotional regulation.
2. Master Your Emotions: A Practical Guide to Overcome Negativity and Better Manage Your Feelings” by Thibaut Meurisse
This book provides a roadmap for readers to understand their emotional triggers and reactions, teaching them to recognize negative patterns and replace them with positive habits.
Meurisse takes a pragmatic approach, offering easy-to-follow steps, exercises and techniques:
- Understanding Emotions: Meurisse begins by helping readers understand the nature of emotions, explaining that they are not just random occurrences but responses triggered by specific events or thoughts
- Identification of Negative Patterns: One of the primary focuses is to help readers identify recurring negative emotional patterns and the circumstances or thoughts that lead to them
- Strategies for Emotional Mastery: The book provides various techniques and strategies for managing and mastering emotions. These range from cognitive reframing, mindfulness exercises, to physical actions
- Building Positive Habits: Beyond merely managing negative emotions, the book emphasizes building positive habits to replace detrimental ones, thus creating a more positive and proactive emotional landscape
- Practical Exercises: Interspersed throughout are actionable exercises that readers can apply in real-life situations. These are designed to reinforce the concepts and strategies presented in the book
This hands-on guide will provide you with tools that will help you navigate your emotional world more effectively.
3. “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain” by Lisa Feldman Barrett
In this book, the author challenges traditional notions about emotions, arguing against the idea that emotions are universally recognized or biologically hard-wired. Barrett then presents a theory based on the latest research in psychology and neuroscience.
While this book is not exclusively about emotion regulation, it offers an in-depth look at the neuroscience and psychology of emotions, which provides a foundation for understanding how to regulate them.
The book looks into several aspects of that relate to emotions:
- Emotions and the Body: How our physical states and surroundings can influence the emotions we construct
- Brain Functionality: Insight into the brain’s predictive nature and how it uses past experiences to anticipate and shape future emotional responses
- The Role of Culture and Society: The profound influence of culture, language, and societal norms on how we understand, label, and experience emotions
- Empowerment in Emotional Understanding: A deeper understanding of one’s emotional experiences and the realization that we have the power to shape our emotional constructs to some degree
This book is both thought-provoking and paradigm-shifting, challenging you to rethink the nature and origin of your emotional experiences.
4. “The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You” by Dr. Elaine N. Aron
In her book, Dr. Aron introduces the concept of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) — someone who has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in their surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.
Your high emotionality might be due to the fact that you are a Highly Sensitive Person. Therefore, this is a great resource to explore and see if the information resonates.
In this book you will learn about:
- Understanding Sensitivity: Gain a clear understanding of what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person and how it impacts various areas of life
- Identification: Through the self-assessment, you can identify whether you (or someone you know) might be an HSP
- Coping Strategies: Practical guidance on how to navigate the world as an HSP, including managing overstimulation, creating a suitable living environment, and building healthy relationships
- Self-acceptance: Tools and insights to help HSPs embrace their sensitivity and view it as a gift rather than a challenge
- Empowerment: The knowledge and strategies to harness the strengths of sensitivity, such as deep empathy, intuition, and a rich inner life
- Relationships: Guidance on managing relationships, including understanding non-HSPs and ensuring mutual respect and understanding.
This is a great read if you are interested in exploring the concept of a Highly Sensitive Person. There are many reasons why we might be highly sensitive and struggle to regulate our emotions. Therefore, you might find this book thought-provoking!
5. “Emotional First Aid” by Dr. Guy Winch
In “Emotional First Aid”, Dr. Guy Winch draws a parallel between physical first aid and the need for emotional first aid.
He emphasizes that just as we treat physical injuries like cuts and scrapes promptly to prevent further harm, we should also be attentive to emotional injuries to heal and protect our mental health.
This book doesn’t exclusively focus on emotional regulation but looks at emotions, emotional pain, and emotional resilience as a whole.
In this book you can expect to learn:
- Identification of Emotional Injuries: Recognize and understand various emotional wounds and the potential long-term effects they can have if not addressed
- Practical Healing Techniques: Acquire a toolkit of evidence-based strategies to treat emotional injuries
- Insights into Emotional Pain: Gain deeper insights into why we feel the way we do after distressing events and how our minds process these events
- Building Emotional Resilience: Strategies to not only recover from emotional wounds but also to fortify oneself against future psychological injuries
- Self-care for Mental Health: Just as we maintain physical health through routines and habits, you will learn the importance of regular emotional self-care for overall mental well-being
- Enhanced Emotional Intelligence: Through understanding and addressing one’s own emotional injuries, you can also develop greater empathy and understanding for others
This is a valuable resource if you are looking to enhance your emotional health, resilience, and learn how you can build emotional self-care.
Read These Books on Emotional Regulation!
I hope that the above listed books help you in your inner explorations and provide you with the tools to help you regulate your emotions.
If you are also interested in emotional healing specifically, consider checking out my article “10 Profound Emotional Healing Books.”