What I most want for me, you and everyone.
Emotional strength is psychology’s no. 1 commodity.
I know, (plenty) of people might argue with me, but I’m not budging. Given a choice, it’s the one thing I’d gift to my kids, my clients — anyone who’ll take it — because it’s the most helpful attribute of all.
Emotional strength is the foundation of resilience: it can help you cope with life’s setbacks, disappointments and failures; it can help you persist in the face of difficulty and climb out of whatever pit you find yourself in.
Emotional strength can help you (hugely) in all your dealings with people: Your colleagues, your friendships, your intimate relationships. And just anyone in your orbit who hurts you, lets you down or winds you up.
And last — but not at all least — it helps you manage yourself.
Emotional Strength: An Assignment With No Deadline
“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”
― Maya Angelou
Emotional strength refers to a person’s internal coping mechanisms; the ability to respond to intense experience in an open and vulnerable way. As well as helping us deal with life’s hits, it enables us to move through fear, to chase our hopes and dreams, to become the people we’d like to become.
Some people get a solid head-start over others through their biology, parenting, their early environments, life circumstances and the things that happened to them — or did not happen. And some people are disadvantaged by all of the same things.
But emotional strength is a skill we can build from wherever we are. I’m not sure there’s ever a point where you can relax and say — I’ve done it, I’m at the peak of my ‘emotional strength’ powers. And, if you are saying that, I’d question it.
Because emotional strength is a work-on for everyone. When we show up for day one at Emotional Strength School, we’ve signed on for life.
Here are the traits of the people who are closest to nailing it.
7 Traits Emotionally Strong People Share
“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.” ― Marcus Aurelius
1. They question their own thoughts.
Emotionally strong people know thoughts are just things. That our “busy” minds can play tricks on us. They can buzz with unwanted thoughts: racing, intrusive and negative. Or they can worry excessively, overthinking events, actions and casual comments — everything — to the point of exhaustion. So emotionally strong people don’t believe everything that runs through their heads. They are able to step back mentally and see themselves, others and the world accurately.
2. They use feelings as a guide — not a beacon.
Emotionally strong people are fairly intuitive. They trust their gut. But they understand what happens when feelings are given too much power, that they have the power to overrule everything. Emotionally strong people are self-aware, they can regulate their feelings. They are able to mix intellect with emotions to come up with good decisions.
3. They have a high bar for tolerating distress.
Distress Tolerance is a bona fide thing: The concept comes from Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), a branch of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and was developed to help people struggling with overwhelming or out of control feelings in response to stress. But beyond the therapy room, it’s a hallmark feature of emotionally strong people. Watch them in highly stressful or uncertain situations — they can still function well.
4. They don’t waste time beating themselves up.
Emotionally strong people are able to take setbacks, disappointment and failure. They have an internal locus of control, so they believe they have some control over what happens. This leads them to take criticism neutrally, seeing it as feedback rather than a personal hit on who they are. So they don’t spend precious time undermining themselves.
5. They can comfort themselves without losing the capacity to comfort others.
Emotionally strong people can self-soothe. When overwhelmed with negative or difficult thoughts/emotions, they don’t panic or run or shut down. They don’t have total reliance on others to get them through. They have healthy go-to strategies for calming themselves down (and picking themselves up). But when they do this, they still have enough empathy in the tank to share it with others.
6. They are their own measuring stick.
Emotionally strong people don’t get caught in the comparison trap. They don’t use others to figure out who they are or what they should have. They don’t use others to make themselves feel better. They measure themselves against themselves. They just try to do better today than they did yesterday.
7. They can zoom in and zoom out.
Emotionally strong people have a remarkable ability to show up where they are needed and do the right, kind thing. But they are also able to detach from where they are right now, step back and see the big picture. To ask: will this matter 5 days, 5 months, 5 years from now? And, if not, to let it go.
Joseph A. Cornacchia