I heard a child's reactions upstairs: noises that conveyed emotional states. Shock, distress, anger, grief, a few seconds each, one flowing into another. This seemed to resolve without any parental support (this time), and now I hear them playing together again. Something about it worked - some sort of behavior was triggered by those emotional expressions, adaptation was made, relationship was restored and continued. I noted the success, and am writing it here immediately in order to remember the example.
Emotions are like another brain, another mind in our head. What would we do without our PFC (pre-frontal cortez)? We'd use our puppy brain, our limbic system brain, our next-oldest mind structure. Many animals behave and emote similar to young humans! They interact, they communicate, they survive and collaborate without any words and without any "emotional regulation."
Now, we can and do manage ourselves much more skillfully given the addition of our PFC consciousness. But it's also known as "the rider" sitting atop "the elephant." We (identifying with conscious ego in PFC) see more, know better, and can strategize more successfully - but we are not integrated! We get these signals that blare at us like the hiss of a dial-in modem, and these signals are also hard-wired to the rest of our body. Our monitoring/awareness circuitry can even sometimes be preempted by our emotional actuators. At the very least, our conscious biofeedback merely joins in atop everything that's already in motion.
A lot of us strive for conscious control over our emotions, and learn to slam on the brakes, overrule the limbic system's conclusions, and then tell ourselves what we should do. When that collides with the emotional brain, we struggle and fight to strengthen the conscious signal in order to override the emotional reaction that we disagree with.
The emotions aren't bad, and the conscious choices aren't bad. Both are brains trying to survive and thrive. But the "controlling" of our feelings through tug-of-war is not a particularly useful and satisfying way to live! It's like some sloppy soldering over some fraction of signal pins, with multiple voltage drivers producing a noisy hysterical hysteresis.
I find the multi-agent model of these "two brains" so compelling (a further gloss over the triune brain modeling) as it brings my awareness to how we relate *to* our emotions. Our conscious self is more powerful, like a parent, and our emotional agent is constrained and limited, like a child. And we *love* our children, and strive to stay in that loving state of compassion as much as we can. Occasionally we slip back into authoritarian mode and say "because I'm the parent and I said so!" but our skill in parenting (our kids and our emotions) directly reflects how rare that fallback is, right?
Be compassionate to all your pieces. We can't actually talk to the puppy on our level, but we do have access to some inputs, some communication and feedback. We can integrate better with this older brain by listening to it and loving it from our bigger space of consciousness. If kids know that their parent is actually hearing them, respecting them, and looking out for them... Then they much more often can *trust* and cooperate as a family.