I thought of a way to explain emotional regulation to someone who is not familiar with the subject by using an analogy of cars. Imagine that emotions are little cars moving in our bodies - each car goes from their own unique point A (in time) to point B (in time).

 

They appear at point A and once they reach point B (usually after about 3 minutes of being thoroughly acknowledged), they disappear. Normally they do this freely and the traffic flows nicely. But. As we know, sometimes there is peak traffic and there could be a traffic jam or a car can get get stuck behind an obstacle or the driver might need directions or might be confused or misguided or even try to avoid reaching point B. This is where regulation gets into the picture. The traffic officer regulates the flow of the cars through heavy traffic, or help them to find their way. He takes a little bit of high quality time with each one, learning from the driver - maybe finding out where he is going or generally just acknowledging that this driver needs to use the road from point A to point B, (by being aware of the cars and accepting their purpose he helps them move to point B. Remember, the cars themselves are not the meaning we assign to them or the thoughts that accompany them). It doesn't matter how long it takes to get all traffic flowing again, usually each car that is attended to gets sorted pretty quickly, reaching its destination, disappearing and making ample room for the joys of experiencing the constant flow of new cars. The traffic officer keeps learning from experience how to keep the traffic flowing better, especially the old cars and keeps removing obstacles which are likely to help them along. At times when the traffic officer takes a long break during peak hours, a bit of a stressful situation can develop... understandably. On duty-awareness to acknowledge the cars, keeps traffic flowing, it totally keeps the stress at bay and is a very health-ful way of being.

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