“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brené Brown
“You are so strong! After everything you went through, you must be such a strong person.” How many times we’ve used those expressions, or we’ve heard someone pointing out our strengths?
Being emotionally strong enough to withstand pressure is a character trait most of us aspire to have. We feel emotionally strong when we move through challenging situations with enough confidence to adapt and recover from setbacks, maintaining a sense of well-being. It’s a sign of resilience as it refers to our ability to adapt to change.
Some people assume that emotional strength involves ignoring, suppressing and denying emotions. Quite the opposite! Emotionally strong people are likely to be more attuned to their emotions and, as a result, feel more comfortable connecting and responding to them gently.
Through the years of working as a psychotherapist, I encountered countless people searching for relief from trauma and grief or healing from the injuries of relationships gone sour. I will do my best to describe some common qualities I found in emotionally strong and resilient individuals.
Self-awareness is when we engage in self-reflection, hoping to understand our emotions better, thought patterns, and old beliefs. This process allows us to create new insights and perspectives and a new awareness about our triggers. Emotional growth happens when we know ourselves better and respond to most emotions more effectively. Mindfulness therapy approaches can be a gentle way to help us connect with our feelings and internal narratives.
Recognizing and holding space for our internal experiences and feelings is a paramount quality of emotional strength. Resistance creates more distress and moves us away from learning about ourselves. Tuning into our emotional states, needs, and perspectives with curiosity and empathy helps us to make more conscious choices about how to respond to a situation.
Building Healthy Relationships.
Having a strong bond and attachment with others gives us a sense of belonging and worthiness. Healthy and trustworthy connections can help us to create a buffer against adversity. Emotionally strong people understand the value of reaching out to friends, family, or individual therapy for support and gaining new perspectives about navigating challenging times.
Lifestyle and stress management.
Emotionally strong people develop habits and coping mechanisms that contribute to their well-being and set the grounds for overcoming challenges. Stress is an inseparable part of life, and most of us endure times in our lives that feel overwhelming.
Developing a healthy lifestyle that works for us helps bounce off the negative impact of situations that are out of our control to change. It’s like investing in a savings bank account that we can rely upon when we are face to face with highly stressful times.
Emotional strength is not about denying negative thoughts or feelings; it’s about finding a healthy balance. Challenging judgmental or self-destructive beliefs is not easy; it is quite the opposite. Most of our default response to our mistakes or failures is self-loathing or negative thinking. Self-talking, that resembles talking to our best friend or a loved one, is one first step towards embracing a kinder relationship with ourselves.
Meaningful goal setting.
Most people showing traits of emotional strength present with a sense of purpose and direction in life. ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, emphasizes identifying habits and behaviours that bring us closer to what we think is essential and valuable. Meaning and purpose allow us to navigate through difficult times, knowing that we have the capacity to create a road map leading to the shores.
A blog authored by Nick Wignall inspired the graphic.