Have you ever observed a child eagerly waiting to share something with their parent? You may see the child visibly fidgeting with excitement while simultaneously attempting to control their impulses? This familiar scene demonstrates a fundamental aspect of human behaviour that we refer to as self-regulation.

Self-regulation encompasses our ability to effectively manage our emotions and behaviours. Psychologist, Dan Goleman, author of the groundbreaking book “Emotional Intelligence,” emphasizes its significance, and asserts that self-regulation serves as the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. It is essential for navigating the intricate social landscape of our lives.

We typically learn self-regulation as children. We learn it in three phases. The first is by ‘being regulated’ by the adults in our lives. The second or modelling phase occurs when we are in the presence of adults who can regulate themselves. Lastly, we learn by practising to modulate the stimuli in our environment to a level that is manageable. These early years are so important in this regard.

These processes represent neurotypical development. What about our  neurodivergent population? It is estimated that 17% of adults in Canada are neurodivergent. People who have ADHD or are on the Autism spectrum, who have synesthesia, or high-sensitivity, sensory processing differences to name just a few, are considered part of our neurodivergent population.

One of the things that sets this large group of individuals aside is our ability to process information differently. In the past, there was a general thought that our neurodivergent population was unable to self-regulate. Thankfully, this opinion is beginning to change.

Neurodivergent people are able to self-regulate. They just experience self-regulation a little differently. People with Autism may engage in repetitive movements, called stimming to self-regulate. Individuals with ADHD may modulate their emotions through movement, like walking around class during a lesson. Those with OCD may repeat a task, multiple times.

Whatever the process entails for each, those who grow proficient in self-regulation demonstrate the capacity to manage their emotional responses, resist impulsive actions that may cause harm, and during challenging times they develop the capacity to stay positive. It is little wonder then, that those who have mastered self-regulation often report greater happiness and success than those who struggle with this process.

As highlighted by Andrea Bell in her 2016 article on goodtherapy.com, those skilled in self-regulation exhibit a flexible range of emotional and behavioural responses that are finely attuned to meet their environment’s demands. Even renowned psychologist Albert Bandura underscores the dynamic nature of self-regulation and describes it as an ongoing process influenced by both our internal/neurological and external or environmental factors.

When we have learned through typical or atypical processing, how best to manage our responses, resist temptations and uplift our own spirits, we can navigate life’s challenges with greater resilience, adaptability, and emotional stability. These skills are indispensable for achieving success across various domains of life and for nurturing our overall well-being.

If you are neurotypical, or neurodivergent and are on a journey to accelerate and achieve your personal or professional goals, if you are interested in success and have overcome many obstacles, join me as I support women in a welcoming environment of trust and acceptance to construct their best life. Please call or use the link below to book a 30-minute consultation to hear about my next 12-week Achieve Your Vision for 2024 Goal Accelerator Package. There are still a few spots left.

Simone Usselman-Tod,

Stress Mastery and Mindset Breakthrough Coach,

Certified NeuroChange and NLP Master Practitioner and Coach.