Blog for Counselor Laura Michael
"As If" © Abbie Kozik

Strengthening Where We Are Unsteady

Each of us tends to have our own natural way of reacting to stress. We may be wired to go immediately to fear, or to anger, or to anxiety or any another emotion. When we are disoriented, we do what is familiar, even if it doesn’t necessarily work well or isn’t in our best interests. How do we confront and lessen the impact of emotions that are only adding to our distress?

Many of us work out regularly to train our bodies to become stronger, to gear up for physical challenges, and to feel that we are in shape. We are all familiar with the routines we employ to gain control over our physical condition by going on a vigorous walk or lifting weights at the gym. When we are under stress, perhaps we need to do the same thing mentally by training our minds to be fit, prepared for emotional challenges.

With equal determination, we can try to master our emotional condition by strengthening the places where we are unsteady. It takes time and practice, but with intention and purpose we can create a more stable and resilient inner being by becoming conscious of negative thought patterns and behaviors that impair our ability to handle the challenges we are facing. By building emotional stamina, we can learn to rely on it. We train ourselves emotionally to face what we need to face.

When you have managed to handle something even after you were sure you had hit the wall, it becomes part of you, part of your history. Build on that experience: “I’ve done it before, I can do it again.” Most of us remember times when we were in school and had a paper due that we were absolutely one hundred percent sure we would not be able to turn in on time. But, then we found ourselves staying up all night, drinking a lot of coffee, and ultimately, turning in a good product. When the scenario repeated itself, we knew that if we had to stay up all night and get an assignment finished, we could, because we had done it before. That assumption was based on experience and proof. Keeping our past successes in mind can help us tackle new challenges in our lives with confidence and courage.