4 Habits of Emotionally Healthy People
Most people react to painful emotions in one of two ways:
- Escape. We try to avoid or outrun our difficult feelings by distracting ourselves — often with something like social media or food. At the extreme end of this strategy, some people are so hell-bent on avoiding difficult feelings that they keep themselves in a constant state of busyness (and stress) so that they never have a minute to be alone with their thoughts and feelings. This is one of the underlying causes of burnout you rarely hear anyone talk about.
- Fix. The other way we tend to react to difficult feelings is to try and fix them and make them go away. Maybe you immediately start telling yourself why it’s silly to feel the way you do — essentially trying to argue your way out of a painful feeling. Or maybe you go right to your “tool belt” of coping strategies and start deep breathing the second you feel anxious or irritated. Or perhaps your go-to fix-it strategy is reassurance-seeking — outsourcing your emotional struggles to someone else.
While these strategies of escape and fix “work” in the short term — i.e. they give some temporary relief — they make difficult emotions harder to manage in the long term.
And the reason is pretty straightforward:
When you constantly try to escape or eliminate your feelings, you teach your brain to see them as enemies.
And if your brain believes its own emotions are bad or dangerous, you’re going to start chronically feeling bad about feeling bad — anxious about feeling sad, angry about feeling anxious, guilty for feeling angry, etc.
The healthier way to manage difficult feelings is to change your relationship with them. Instead of treating painful emotions as enemies to be avoided or eliminated, you can learn to treat them as friends to be understood and accepted.
Here are 4 tips to get you started.
1. Name it to tame it
A healthier relationship with your emotions begins with using better language to talk about them.