5 Habits That Will Make You Emotionally Strong

5 Habits That Will Make You Emotionally Strong

If so, you probably wish you could feel a little less at the mercy of external events — able to stay cool and keep your calm no matter what was happening.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeling any emotion. And it’s normal for our emotions to fluctuate. But some people are able to control their emotional reactions better than others.
And while there are many reasons for this — from genetics and upbringing to how much sleep you got last night — here’s what matters most:

The ability to be strong in the face of difficult emotions often comes down to better habits.

What follows are 7 habit you can learn that will help you to become more emotionally strong.

1. Metacognition

Metacognition means thinking about your thinking.

More specifically, it’s the ability to be aware of and assess what’s going on in your own mind — thoughts, emotions, beliefs, moods, expectations, self-talk, etc.

Most of the time our minds are on autopilot — stuff happens and we react:

  • Your spouse gives you a nasty look, so you fire back with a nasty comment.
  • Your boss sends a passive-aggressive email you don’t know how to respond to, so you distract yourself in Facebook.
  • A painful old memory pops into your mind and you end up lost in ruminations and regret.

The more you ignore your own mind, the more your behaviors become reactions rather than choices.

And this leads to a lot of emotional volatility and stress:

  • If your default self-talk is to catastrophize negative events and go straight to the worst-case scenario, you’re going to feel pretty anxious all the time.
  • If your default response to criticism is to criticize back, you’re going to find yourself pretty frustrated and angry all the time.
  • If your default interpretation of negative events is to criticize yourself and internalize things, you’re going to end up with a lot of shame and fake guilt.

On the other hand, if you can learn to pause and observe what’s happening in your mind, you give yourself the opportunity to act intentionally and purposefully.

Stop trying to control your emotions and learn to be curious about them instead.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

― Viktor Frankl

2. Attention Shifting

Most people spend their time thinking about whatever grabs their attention.

Whether it’s doomscrolling social media or fantasizing about a new car, our minds are easily pulled from one thing to the next, often with very little deliberation on our part.

Here’s the problem with that:

The contents of your thoughts determine the contents of your moods.

Think about it:

  • If you’re always worried about the future, you’re going to feel pretty anxious.
  • If you’re always dwelling on past mistakes, you’re going to feel pretty ashamed.
  • If you’re always ruminating on how you’ve been wronged, you’re going to feel pretty angry.

If you want to change how emotional you feel, you’ve got to change what you spend your time thinking about.

Unfortunately, this can be tough:

  • When you’re caught in a worry spiral, it can be difficult to refocus your mind on your work.
  • When you’re stuck ruminating on some slight against you, it’s hard to be present with the person sitting next to you.
  • When you’re trapped in obsessing about how you feel, it’s hard to take action on the things you know will make you feel better.

To free yourself from unhelpful thinking patterns — and the painful feelings they produce — you must learn to control your attention.

But here’s the thing: Your ability to control your attention is a muscle. And if you don’t exercise it, it will remain weak. This means your mood and emotions will be at the mercy of whatever comes to mind.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness.If you are attentive, you will see it.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

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