3 beliefs of emotionally strong people
It’s easy to feel anxious, sad, irritated or otherwise negative when we find ourselves in difficult situations – but sometimes this is because of the messages that we tell ourselves (i.e. the beliefs that we have) rather than the reality of those situations.
I often hear friends as well as clients talking about themselves and their situations in ways that are more negative than their situations might actually warrant. To prevent letting your emotions get the better of you, be aware of these three beliefs that emotionally strong people have about themselves:
1. “I understand that my reasoning is not always reliable”
In films and on TV shows, characters often break off their relationships by saying “It’s not you, it’s me.”
But in real life, it is sometimes likewise worth remembering that the feelings you feel and the thoughts you have may be caused by your perceptions of the situation rather than the situation itself. So it often may be useful to tell yourself “It’s not the situation, it’s me.”
For example, suppose you get annoyed with a colleague. Is there a chance that you have blown things out of proportion? Would all reasonable people feel equally annoyed with that colleague? Or is it perhaps just a relatively minor mistake or failing on your colleague’s part that you have allowed yourself to get annoyed by? In other words, consider the possibility that you should be telling yourself “It’s not this colleague, it’s me.”
Or suppose you feel jealous about your partner’s behaviour. Again, consider: was your partner’s behaviour actually unreasonable? Or perhaps you should be wondering whether it’s actually a case of “It’s not my partner, it’s me” – in other words that you may have misinterpreted the situation or may be reading more into your partner’s intentions than is justified.
2. “I can choose to act in spite of my feelings”
Some people are driven by their feelings. For example, someone who feels tired may think “I can’t be bothered to go to the gym – I’ll stay at home and order take away instead.” Or someone who feels sad after a job rejection may think “Well, I’m going to give up trying to find a new job.”
However, emotionally strong people realise that they can choose to take action in spite of how they feel. So yes, someone may feel tired – but she may decide to go to the gym in spite of her tiredness. Or someone else may feel sad after being rejected from a job but still think “I don’t feel like applying for another job, but I will anyway.”
If you want to achieve your goals in life, keep reminding yourself that you can choose to act in spite of your feelings.
3. “I can manage my emotions”
Some people get angry or sad – or experience other emotions – and say that they “can’t help it”. Now, it’s true that our emotions can feel really strong at times. But research tells us that we can at least partly manage our emotions.
Suppose you feel really anxious about an upcoming exam or a presentation that you have to give. Some people may allow their feelings to overwhelm them – they may spend a lot of time allowing themselves to visualise all the ways that it could go wrong. However, emotionally strong individuals would instead invest that same time in studying for the exam or rehearsing for the presentation. Doing something positive can reduce the feelings of anxiety much more than passively worrying about the situation.
Or imagine that your relationship has ended and you feel heartbroken. Your feelings of disappointment and depression may feel really strong. But you can choose to manage them, for example by encouraging yourself to engage in a session of mindful breathing or by thinking about the situation differently. There’s also research showing that even just changing your posture could help you to feel better. Or you could force yourself to go for a walk or to meet up with a friend for coffee. Deep-down, you can probably think of quite a few ways to help yourself feel better and manage your emotions – if you can just persuade yourself to do so.
In summary, you can develop greater emotional strength by reinforcing certain beliefs in your own mind. And if you found the information on these three beliefs useful, you may also like to read my earlier, related advice on toxic thinking traps.