Emotional resilience

Building Emotional Resilience: Four Key Habits of Strong Individuals

Building Emotional Resilience: Four Key Habits of Strong Individuals

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Emotional strength isn’t about suppressing feelings; it’s about how you navigate and respond to them. Strengthening emotional resilience involves acknowledging and working through difficult emotions in a healthy manner. Cultivating these habits fosters emotional robustness in the face of adversity.


1. Direct Attention, Not Emotions

When faced with challenging emotions, the instinctive response is often to control or escape them. However, emotions aren’t directly controllable like other aspects of life. Rather than suppressing or altering emotions directly, channel your attention. Shift focus toward constructive activities or learning from the situation, which helps manage emotions indirectly.

In numerous aspects of our lives, it proves beneficial and constructive to manage our challenges. However, the caveat lies in emotions—they don’t fall directly under our control.

Consider this experiment:

Try to instantly elevate your mood to extreme happiness right now. Or attempt to immediately stop feeling anxious. These attempts might seem absurd since emotions aren’t like switches we can flick at will. You can’t simply adjust a happiness dial or deactivate an anxiety button.

Directly controlling emotions is impossible; instead, it’s an indirect process mainly governed by your thoughts and focus. For instance, dwelling repeatedly on the details of a mistake at work intensifies feelings of shame. However, shifting your attention to rectifying the issue or learning from it can foster a faster recovery. Attempting to control uncontrollable aspects, such as emotions, only amplifies long-term distress and discomfort.

Emotionally resilient individuals assert authority over their attention, focusing deliberately on meaningful aspects rather than succumbing to instinctive whims. They practice directing their attention towards crucial matters, steering clear of unproductive thought patterns like overthinking or worry.

To enhance emotional strength, it’s essential to acknowledge emotions while steering focus intentionally.

As Charlotte Brontë expressed, “Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.


2. Embrace Compassionate Self-Talk

Many associate emotional strength with toughness, but being overly critical of yourself during tough times intensifies emotional distress. Instead, practice self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding similar to how you’d support a friend in need. This approach nurtures genuine emotional resilience.

Consider this scenario:

Each time you experience anxiety, berating yourself for being inadequate or lacking strength adds another layer of shame to the existing anxiety. Consequently, your overall emotional turmoil significantly escalates.

Similarly, when feelings of sadness emerge, critiquing yourself as selfish or self-absorbed compounds the sadness with an additional sense of guilt. This compounds the challenge of coping with sadness in a healthy manner and moving past it.

Here’s the underlying principle:

Reacting to distressing emotions with negative self-dialogue ingrains a sense of shame for feeling emotionally low.

Individuals who possess emotional resilience acknowledge that being compassionate and empathetic with oneself during challenging emotional times is immensely beneficial. This approach, termed compassionate self-talk, doesn’t involve mysticism; it merely involves extending to yourself the same level of kindness and support you’d offer a friend facing a struggle.

For instance:

If a friend felt inexplicably sad, you wouldn’t reprimand them to “stop being overly sensitive and toughen up.”

Similarly, if a friend expressed fear, you wouldn’t label them as weak and instruct them to “just get over it.”

Authentic emotional strength stems from kindness, not criticism.

As David Taylor-Klaus articulated, “Words matter. And the words that matter most are the ones you say to yourself.


3. Values Over Impulsive Emotions

While emotions provide valuable insights, blindly following momentary feelings isn’t the best path. Emotionally strong individuals recognize the importance of emotions but make decisions guided by their values and reason. This balance prevents impulsive actions influenced solely by fleeting emotions.

Use your values as the compass for decision-making instead of being swayed solely by feelings; emotionally resilient individuals respect their emotions but don’t become enslaved by them.

Society’s perspective on emotions tends to veer to extremes, viewing emotions as either frivolous and disposable or mystical guides leading us toward enlightenment. However, the truth is far more pragmatic—emotions evolved as survival mechanisms over centuries. While they prove advantageous in certain scenarios, they can also be counterproductive in others.

For instance:

If a loud noise startles you while crossing the street, triggering fear that alerts you to an approaching car, this emotion serves a crucial purpose.

Conversely, feeling fearful of judgment during a meeting, hindering you from sharing an innovative idea, is less useful in this context.

The crux is simple:

Emotions don’t always steer us in the right direction; they can mislead us.

Individuals fortified with emotional strength acknowledge their emotions during tough decisions. Yet, they rely on their values and logic to steer their choices, not fleeting emotional impulses.

Reflect on this:

If your exercise routine hinged solely on how you felt in the moment, disregarding your commitments to health, how consistent would your regimen be?

If your creativity solely depended on your mood rather than your commitment to creative pursuits, how many projects would you see through to completion?

If your relationships were guided only by fear-induced reluctance to ask someone out, ignoring your quest for meaningful connections, how many potentially fulfilling relationships would you miss out on?

Recognize your emotions but avoid blindly obeying them.

Emotionally resilient individuals resist the influence of unproductive emotions because they’ve invested time in identifying and clarifying their values. Consequently, they make decisions that benefit their long-term well-being instead of impulsively reacting to transient feelings.

In the words of James Clear, “Motivation often comes after starting, not before. Action produces momentum.


4. Establish Healthy Boundaries

Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is crucial for emotional well-being. It might seem challenging initially, but standing up for your needs and preferences is vital. Avoid falling into patterns that jeopardize your mental health by asserting your boundaries.

Emotionally resilient individuals understand that neglecting their own needs and desires undermines emotional well-being.

However, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries poses a common challenge involving short-term discomfort for long-term gains. Similar to nurturing good habits such as a balanced diet, studying diligently, or saving money instead of spending recklessly, the ease of immediate actions seldom leads to favorable outcomes in the future. Conversely, what appears arduous at present often yields far superior results eventually.

This principle applies to setting and upholding healthy boundaries as well.

Expressing genuine desires poses a challenge.

Saying no and enforcing these boundaries proves demanding.

Nevertheless, here’s a crucial insight:

Feeling uncomfortable doesn’t equate to making a wrong choice.

Declining excessive demands from a dominating superior or a manipulative relative might cause momentary discomfort. Yet, feeling uncomfortable doesn’t nullify the correctness of a decision.

To strengthen emotional resilience, practice assertively communicating personal needs and exhibiting the courage to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

Remember the words of Annie Lamott, “No” stands as a complete sentence.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Carson Anekeya

    Exploring the nuances of emotional strength and resilience is crucial in understanding our psychological well-being. This article delves into the fundamental habits that cultivate emotional strength in the face of life’s trials. Remember, it’s not about suppressing emotions but rather navigating them with empathy and self-awareness. Let’s work together to build these habits and fortify our emotional resilience! Your thoughts and experiences on this topic are truly valuable; feel free to share them below.

  2. Elijah Abuyeka

    I personally love the Critical thinking coz the ability to analyze information objectively, make reasoned judgments and solve problems effectively. It involves questioning assumptions, considering evidence, and embracing logical reasoning for informed decision-making.

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