The capacity to withstand challenging emotions while still living up to your ideals is known as emotional resilience. For instance, resisting the urge to respond negatively to your partner’s criticism even when you feel upset and want to do so, maintaining your resolve to abstain from desserts for a month while feeling terribly stressed and realising that a pint of ice cream would be rather nice right about now. The opposite of emotional fragility is lashing out with a passive-aggressive remark rather than acknowledging and facing your anger. Emotional fragility is when we allow our painful emotions to hijack us and cause us to sabotage our best intentions. The tendency to spiral into concern and catastrophizing whenever terrible news is announced. Watch out for these three unhealthy habits that weaken your emotional stability if you want to become more emotionally robust.
- Avoiding unpleasant feelings – Our innate tendency is to avoid things that hurt. For instance, it makes sense to remove your finger as soon as you notice that it is burning after coming into contact with a hot object in order to prevent a severe burn. Yet removing your hand from a hot pan is not for pain avoidance. Avoiding danger in this case, tissue damage is the main objective. Pain is merely a warning sign that something is wrong. You shouldn’t try to avoid discomfort, then. Just consider how many severe burns you would get on your fingers if your hands could not alert your brain to discomfort. The same idea holds true for emotional suffering. Similar to how burning your finger hurts, emotional pain like shame, grief, or anxiety is unpleasant but not harmful in and of itself.
An easy illustration is when a bear is pursuing you. Fear is simply your brain’s attempt to keep you alive and prevent you from being killed by the bear. Naturally, the bear poses the greatest threat. Sadly, it’s simple to mistake emotional discomfort for a threat and begin responding to it by fleeing. You start filling your to-do list with several small jobs and distractions as soon as you start feeling nervous about a significant project you need to focus on. You’re depressed and lose yourself in some humorous Tik-Tok videos right away. After a terrible day at work, when your husband asks you what’s wrong, you choose to avoid discussing your fear of losing your job entirely by responding that you’re “just a bit stressed” instead.
The issue is that while fleeing emotional distress temporarily improves your mood, it really worsens it over time. Your brain learns that something is dangerous when you avoid it on a regular basis. This implies you’ll be even more terrified the next time that creature appears. This is advantageous if what you’re avoiding is something harmful, like a bear. Yet, it’s a grave error if the unpleasant emotion you’re trying to avoid is merely uncomfortable for example, melancholy, worry, rage, guilt, or resentment. By routinely avoiding unpleasant feelings, you’re teaching your brain that it’s risky to be upset. Nonetheless, experiencing negative emotions is common and unavoidable for all people. Actually, there is no avoiding it. But the more you struggle, the worse your eventual agony is. Never assume something is harmful just because it makes you feel awful. Instead of avoiding unpleasant emotions, learn how to acknowledge them.
- Believing in your intuition Your mind is a strong tool. Particularly, the power of your mind to create tales and beliefs can have a significant impact on how you feel and behave. Here’s an illustration: A friend of mine was having problems managing his anger at work and was in danger of losing his job if he didn’t figure it out and learn how to get along with his coworkers. When his teammates didn’t do their work on time, or at least not as quickly as he would have liked, his fury would usually become apparent. He eventually realised that his expectations for timeliness were unreasonably high. Though he logically understood this, he continued to feel that it was improper for his coworkers to be even a little late for work. And this conviction that being late is immoral kept him agitated and unhappy at work.
After much research, it was discovered that his father’s sole statement, to the effect of “Being late is a kind of disrespect to everyone around you,” was the source of this conviction that being late was improper. Hence, for more than 30 years, this man’s first impression of someone who was late was that they were disrespectful, and unsurprisingly, he felt angry. Strangely enough, he had spent 30 years telling himself this thought this story without ever questioning it or even investigating it. His anger and aggravation immediately subsided once he did when he began seeking out other, less morally repugnant tales and justifications for why people may be late. The tales we tell ourselves have a significant impact on our feelings and behaviour, for better or ill. Due to one straightforward story that my friend’s mind was feeding him for the first half of his life, a story he never stopped to question, he spent the majority of that time being overly angry and irritated.
His basic habit of believing this one story without examination was a large contributor to his lack of emotional stamina when confronted with rage. On the other side, his anger and irritability significantly decreased once he learned to be aware of and examine his own thoughts, beliefs, and tales, and both his behaviour and performance sharply improved. Keep in mind that something isn’t true just because it’s an idea. You’ll find that you have much greater emotional resilience than you ever imagined if you learn to critically examine your own beliefs and narratives.
- Using feelings to guide decisions – Remember that emotions are only attempting to comfort you, no matter how painful they may feel, from point #1 above. Which implies we should avoid making the mistake of perceiving emotions as negative or harmful and attempting to escape them right away. Don’t shoot the messenger, as they say in the ancient phrase. Yet if you assume that your emotions are always guiding you in a positive path, it’s equally possible to slip into a trap on the other end of the spectrum.
For instance: You’re debating accepting a friend’s invitation to travel to Africa on safari, something you’ve always wanted to do. Yet every time you consider it, you begin to feel anxious all the way to panic when you remember you’ll need to board a plane, which you’re frightened to do. In the end, you persuade yourself that declining the invitation is “for the best” if you say no. You come up with all kinds of other excuses, but ultimately, it’s because you’re frightened of experiencing fear on the plane. Here’s one more, a little more commonplace: At Starbucks, the barista hands you your beverage. When you leave the establishment, you take a sip and find it’s a chai rather than a vanilla latte. You think about going back and asking them to rebuild the order, but you then ponder how unpleasant it may be to request a replacement. Aside from that, you don’t want them to feel bad. So you decide to accept the chai rather than the vanilla latte you had been anticipating all morning. You’re letting an emotion control your choice in both situations.
The issue arises when your emotions and the actions they inspire don’t always mesh nicely with your values. Hence, if you develop the practise of letting your emotions guide your actions, you will frequently act in a way that is inconsistent with your own ideals (this is the root of self-sabotage, by the way). Naturally, there is nothing wrong with paying attention to your feelings and using them as input. After all, your ideals and emotions might sometimes be very compatible. You set yourself up for a lifetime of regret, low self-esteem, and emotional fragility, all of which are the inevitable outcomes of surrendering your values to satisfy your emotions, if you have a practise of letting your emotions simply dictate your actions, especially significant life decisions. Keep in mind: Pay attention to your feelings, but don’t believe them. Emotions may both lead you astray and point you in the right direction. Therefore when it matters most, make decisions based on your principles.
What You Should Know – Avoid these three poor habits to improve your emotional resilience:
- Running from unpleasant feelings
- Believing in your intuition
- Letting feelings influence choices
Do you have emotional resilience?
Hi, I’m Garima and I write about life experiences. I have several books available on Amazon. Check them out today! Any purchases or KDP reads will be greatly appreciated. If you like my books, do leave a review. Here’s my author page on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0BQDZXYNV
4 Comments Add yours
Whenever I feel weak emotionally and mentally, whenever I give up on myself I always remember Jewish people in concentration camps during ww2. So, human is more strong than we think
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Yes we are more stronger than we think. Thank you for a great reminder.
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Excellent blog post Garima! 👍
Normally, avoiding certain situations, places and people where the uncomfortable emotions arise often make the feelings worse. It’s better to follow your mind in many situations than to trust in your emotions. You explained it perfectly, build your emotional resilience. 😃
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Well said, Dave. It is time to stop the witch hunt on intuition, and see it for what it is: a fast, automatic, subconscious processing style that can provide us with very useful information that deliberate analysing can’t. We need to accept that intuitive and analytic thinking should occur together, and be weighed up against each other in difficult decision-making situations.
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