What is Self-Regulation and Why Is It Important?

Recently I have had a number of conversations about emotions, energy, behaviours and thinking. Subsequently, today I wanted to discuss self-regulation, what it is and why is self-regulation important?

Working with many clients (and also on my own adventure of life), I have found self-regulation to be an important skill in leading a whole-hearted and fulfilling life. Subsequently, in this post I am going to discuss what self-regulation is and


What is Self-Regulation?

There are many definitions on self-regulation, including –

  • “…the fact of something such as an organisation regulating itself without intervention from external bodies.” ~ Google and English Oxford Dictionary
  • “control by oneself or itself, as in an economy, business organization, etc., especially such control as exercised independently of governmental supervision, laws, or the like.” ~ Dictionary.com
  • “Self-regulation is the ability to manage your own energy states, emotions, behaviours and attention, in ways that are socially acceptable and help achieve positive goals, such as maintaining good relationships, learning and maintaining wellbeing,” ~ Stuart Shanker,
  • “…control that students have over their cognition, behaviour, emotions and motivation through the use of personal strategies to achieve the goals they have established ’ ~ Ernesto Panadero1 and Jesús Alonso-Tapia, and
  • Self-regulation is the conscious and non-conscious processes by which people regulate their thoughts, emotions, attention, behaviour, and impulses. People generate thoughts, feelings and actions and adapt those to the attainment of personal goals.”Mark Pettinelli

Do these definitions relate to your knowledge and understanding of self-regulation? If not, what would you add? Personally, I relate to the third and fourth definitions best as they are clear to me.


Quotes on Self-Regulation –

Following are 5 few inspiring quotes on self-regulation –

  • “One of the challenges of education is that a certain amount of stress is normal and positive. The question is how to reduce the stressors that are not helping the child.” ~ Dr Stuart Shanker
  • “When we self-regulate well, we are better able to control the trajectory of our emotional lives and resulting actions based on our values and sense of purpose.” ~ Amy Leigh Mercree
  • “Self-regulation is as much about up-regulating positive emotions, such as interests, love and happiness as down-regulating negative emotions.” ~ Dr Stuart Shanker
  • “You can’t learn Self-Reg without feeling filled up with hope.” ~ Susan Hopkins
  • “Self-regulation makes self-control possible, not the other way around.” ~ Dr Stuart Shanker


Why Is Self-Regulation Important?

After reading the above definitions on self-regulation, can you see why self-regulation would be important in your sport and life? For example –

  • as an athlete – do you think managing own energy and emotional states in a game or match would be useful? What about before and after a game / match, to foster your performance and recovery?
  • as a parent – understanding your own emotions within conversations with your children and also how you manage your own stress? (yes you are also a role model and don’t worry stress is universal), and
  • as a coach – identifying your own behaviours and how you respond to situations (rather than react)?

Also – the above examples, can overlap between each of the roles of athlete, parent / guardian and coach.

Other benefits of self-regulation in sport include –

Can you see how self-regulation could help your relationships and overall well-being? Remember – there are many other reasons why self-regulation is important – in sport as well as life, what other examples can you find?


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insights in to self-regulation and why it is important. Would you agree self-regulation is important? If so, how do you practise it in your sport and life? Please feel free to share your responses below in the comments section.

Remember, as you move towards developing self-regulation we have a choice on how to respond to each situation.


When you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and living whole-heartedly (i.e. across sport and life)you are also welcome tjoin our newsletter here.

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