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Self-regulation

Human beings are designed to self-regulate. Many aspects of cognition are devoted to the service of goals. With this, we are in a constant state of comparison, comparing what is with what is desired; our mental life and behavioural organisation works to reduce any discrepancies that would perhaps distract us from our goals. When a discrepancy is detected, negative affects occur such as fear, frustration, etc. This, in turn, sets in motion cognitive and behavioral sequences to attempt to move the current state of affairs closer to one’s goals, desires, and preferences. If the discrepancy is reduced, the mind can exit this mode and a feeling of well-being will follow until another discrepancy is detected, again setting this sequence in motion. If the goal cannot be met, and if the goal is deemed of high-value, then the mind will con nue to dwell on the discrepancy, searching for ways to reduce it, which gives rise to rumination. Continued rumination can lead to depressive episodes. This cycle will continue until the person either satisfies or gives up their goal. Disengaging from goals can alleviate ruminative thinking and reduce cognitive thinking (Bishop et al. 2004).

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