When you want to get physically stronger, what do you do?
You lift weights. You take on challenge.
If you haven’t lifted weight before and you want to benchpress 200 pounds, do you just set the weight machine at 200 and simply press it?
No. That will be too heavy. You work up to it.
You start with what you can do and add slightly more weight. Work at that weight for a few days, until that weight becomes easy and your “normal”, then add a little more weight and work at that new weight for a while until it becomes easy. You incrementally increase the challenge on your muscles, constantly stretching your limit.
Sooner or later, you’ll look back at the past and realize the physical strength you have grown and you’ll find that whatever weight was challenging before is no longer a challenge.
Emotional weightlifting is very similar.
If you want to get emotionally stronger, what do you do?
You “lift emotional weights”. You take on challenge.
Let’s say you fight every night with your kids at bedtime but you wanted to experience more calm and patience during this time, do you simply do it?
Not really. That will be too difficult. You work up to it.
You start with what you can do and add slightly more challenge. Maybe, for example, you start with being caught in a traffic jam. Some common emotional responses to being caught in a traffic jam are anger, anxiety, irritation, frustration, and impatience (similar emotional responses to kid’s bedtime). “Taking on the challenge” is choosing to not respond in the same automatic, knee-jerk response pattern you normally do and instead choose to remain calm and patient. You work at this new “weight” until it becomes easy and “normal” to stay calm and composed at that challenge level, then you add a little more “weight” by choosing a slightly more triggering challenge and work at staying calm and composed. Increase the challenge on yourself, constantly stretching your limit.
Sooner or later, you’ll look back at the past and realize the emotional strength you have grown and you’ll find that whatever used to be challenging -whatever triggered you to experience anger, anxiety, irritation, frustration, or impatience- is no longer challenging; you can remain calm, composed, and in control of yourself, regardless of the situation.
Traffic, checkout lines, lost keys, screaming children…no problem.
With what situation can you start emotional weightlifting?
How might having more emotional strength benefit you?
P.S. Emotional weightlifting is a large component of decreasing stress and increasing resilience. Get more guidance and applicable skills with our private coaching. Learn more, here.
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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