How fluent are you in your own emotions?

Are you able to identify and feel your feelings, or is it a struggle?

Do you tend to focus more on what other people are feeling?

If so, you are not alone.

This episode is all about becoming more emotionally resilient. We will explore why emotional resilience matters, the four common blocks we tend to experience around it, and ideas for putting the focus back on you.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

Why Emotional Resilience + Fluency Matters

Many folks in this crew are high-functioning codependents. We are big-hearted, sensitive, and empathic.

We often feel other people’s feelings intensely and are outwardly focused on the people we love.

We often become experts on the feeling states and preferences of others sometimes to the detriment of our own well-being.

If you can relate, it is time to become an expert on your feelings.

Why?

Because being an expert on other people’s feelings, situations, and preferences is not the same as being emotionally intimate and comfortable with ourselves.

And how we relate to ourselves is everything. Your relationship with yourself sets the bar for every other relationship in your life.

What Gets in the Way of Becoming Emotionally Resilient?

Building emotional fluency and resilience requires looking inward and acknowledging the range of emotions within us.

Examining, honoring, and caring for our emotions can improve how we relate to ourselves and others.

The problem? Most of us were not taught how to be emotionally intimate with ourselves. Instead, we were raised and praised to be self-abandoning codependents.

Let’s look at the four common behavior blocks to emotional fluency + resilience that I’ve seen in my therapy practice and what you can do instead.

#1: Anticipatory Anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety is ruminating about what could go wrong and planning for worst-case scenarios before anything has even happened.

Let’s say there is a family gathering coming up, and you know a difficult family member will be attending.

Do you make sure their favorite food and beverage is on hand? Do you plan to seat them away from someone they don’t get along with?

High-functioning codependents do this a lot. At work, with friends, and especially with family members.

Here’s the thing: about 80% of the time, the worst-case scenarios we plan for do not happen.

And if they do happen, and the conflict created is between other people, it is not your side of the street to tend to anyway.

As a high-functioning codependent, letting the chips fall where they may can be challenging. We are much more comfortable with the illusion of being “in control” of the situation.

And the truth is, we have finite bandwidth, and anticipatory anxiety uses energy that would be better utilized elsewhere.

Inside the guide, you will find a quick inventory to take note of how often you feel anticipatory anxiety, as well as a few tips to better handle it.

#2: Being Half Present

Another block high-functioning codependents often face in knowing themselves emotionally is an unintentional tendency to be only partially present.

When we are busy reading a room in an effort to avoid conflict and ward off problems, we are not fully present.

This is what I call life “lite,” where your experiences do not feel as impactful and your memories less vivid because you are preoccupied and only half there.

When we are living life “lite” we are missing so much of the depth and juiciness of a fully lived life.

Check out the guide for ideas on how to become more present in your relationships and conversations.

#3: Misnaming Emotions

A big block to becoming emotionally fluent and resilient is misnaming our emotions.

This can look like identifying secondary emotions (an emotion fueled by other emotions) as primary emotions.

For example, studies have identified anger as a secondary emotion.

Many of us feel angry more easily than feeling hurt or sad because expressing anger tends to make us feel more powerful, and expressing hurt makes us vulnerable.

If you tell someone you are pissed off, and your real emotion is sadness or hurt, saying “I’m mad” won’t feel satisfying because it’s not the full truth of how you’re feeling.

We need to ask ourselves, what is underneath the anger?

#4: Poor Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is your ability to have a certain amount of healthy self-control over your emotional state.

It’s about relating to your feelings in a healthy way and recognizing, Wow, I am having big feelings about this! rather than exploding on others or shutting your feelings down.

How well or poorly we self-regulate is informed by our childhood caregivers.

Healthy and attuned parents teach us to relate to our emotions healthily. They show us how to feel our emotions appropriately and allow us to talk about them.

If your caregivers couldn’t self-regulate healthily, you may not have learned this skill. (But you can learn it now!)

I came from a family system where emotions were very contained. I learned how to allow my feelings in therapy, which was also around the time I stopped numbing with alcohol.

Self-regulating with drugs, alcohol, or other mood-altering activities is a common way of trying to avoid feelings. Sometimes we just need a break from intense feelings.

It is okay to fall into a Netflix hole at times, but doing so constantly numbs your feelings, is not the same as effectively managing them.

If unhealthy habits are preventing you from building emotional fluency and resiliency, download the guide for ideas on how to self-regulate and self-soothe.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you faced and overcome any of these blocks? Let me know over on Instagram (@terricole) or in the comments.

I hope you have the most amazing week and as always, take care of you.

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