Dealing With Emotions
Emotional resilience is the ability to adapt to stressful situations and crises. This resilience impacts our ability to implement new healthy habits in our lives. Changing our habits is difficult, because we are creatures of habit who resist doing anything that causes us to feel uncomfortable. We like autopilot for most of our daily tasks. This frees up our brains for more interesting thoughts.
Trying to add a new habit or break an old one requires us to think and do things differently. This leads to anxiety and uncomfortable feelings. Either we feel irritated, because we cannot have the thing we are trying to avoid; or we feel pain and anxiety trying to add in a habit we don’t yet possess. Doing without the item we want, can also lead to feelings of deprivation and loss. For example, I struggle with avoiding sweets and bakery goods. I have lost my health and my job due to chronic illness. I can’t be around my kitties, because I’m allergic to them. So, giving up “goodies” feels like losing yet another part of my life.
When these unpleasant feelings rise in us, how we handle them makes a crucial difference in whether we give up or continue trying to change. With my “goodies” example, in the past I’ve been resistant to change, because it feels like one more thing that I can’t have. I used to try to ignore the feelings. I’m really good at stuffing feelings. That never worked, because I would suddenly catch myself scarfing down the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of cookies. I tried to force myself into submission. That plan sometimes worked for 4-6 months and then a crisis would occur in my world and eating for comfort would take over.
A Way To Make It Better
Enter the intriguing idea of emotional resilience. How we react and judge our emotions changes everything. Usually, I start to judge myself when those unpleasant emotions of anger or fear raise their ugly heads. Judging myself leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Before I know it, I’m feeling depressed and sad. Then I would start to judge those feelings. Talk about a “sick cycle carousel”(the title of a song by Lifehouse) going around and around.
But here’s what I’m learning. Feelings in themselves are not bad. They just are. So when an unpleasant emotion comes my way, I’m learning to just sit with it and observe. I’m getting out my journal and writing down what I feel and what the facts are surrounding the emotion. And lo and behold, clarity just seeps in. (I infuse my journaling with prayer. Do what works for you.)
So I’m using this insight to sit with my feelings of loss and deprivation when it comes to sweets. I’m learning about what nutrients I need depending on the cravings I’m having. I’m using the Tiny Habit idea of celebrating small wins. “Yeah, Kathy! Way to go; you ate a salad for lunch. Woot, woot.” (I really did just eat a salad for lunch.)
Tips For Increasing Emotional Resilience
- Emotions aren’t bad.
- Emotions provide us with valuable information, but not the complete picture.
- Sit with your feeling and journal about it. Just BE.
- Don’t judge your feelings or yourself.
- Brainstorm ways to reward yourself for adding even tiny healthy habits to your day. To quote the FlyLady “If it’s fun, it will get done.” This gives our brain a jolt of pleasure.
- Allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Yes, it’s hard but you will be okay.
I’m a really slow learner. Do yourself a huge favor and learn about how to cope with your emotions now. Emotional resilience really does impact everything we do. I would love to have you join me on this Tiny Habit journey. Please feel free to share your thoughts and/or questions below in the comments. Till next time. Kathy
If you enjoyed this article, here’s the link for the next in this series. https://upbeatliving.net/behavior-change-troubleshooting/