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Build Your Emotional Capacity
Building your emotional capacity is one of my main goals as a Utah therapist. If you are able to increase how much emotional discomfort you can handle as a person, you will be better off. You will be stronger!
We all have limits emotionally just like we all have limits physically. And, just like you can increase your physical strength, you can also increase your emotional strength.
Let’s be clear, however. Increasing your capacity to handle emotions does not mean that you put your emotions off. Nor does it mean you don’t feel them. Being ‘strong’ doesn’t mean not feeling emotions. How often do you hear someone say, “I’m trying to be strong” – meaning they are trying not to feel their emotions? On the contrary, building emotional strength and capacity means that you will actually be feeling more. And you will be able to handle more emotional discomfort as you go.
What Is Emotional Capacity?
Emotional capacity is your ability to take on emotional discomfort. Some emotional experiences are uncomfortable, but ones that you can handle. They are inside your capacity. Whereas other emotional experiences go outside your capacity and it takes a lot of work to deal with it. It takes a lot of work to pick it up and let it go.
Here are some examples of emotional capacity – both inside and outside your capacity.
Inside Your Emotional Capacity Example – You get a notice from work that the project you are working on is due two days earlier than you expected. This causes you stress, but this is stress you can handle because you are prepared for this project. You believe you can finish it earlier and will be fine, even though it is stressful. This emotion is inside of your capacity because even though it is still uncomfortable, you can handle it.
Outside Your Emotional Capacity Example – You go to access your project on your computer to finish it earlier as directed by work only to find out your spouse accidentally deleted it. You feel panic because you don’t know how you will finish it on time now. One of your immediate thoughts is that you want to eat food or watch shows online instead of working on fixing the problem. The emotion panic is beyond your emotional capacity at this point. If left unchecked, you will probably use unhealthy ways of dealing with it. Your tendency is to avoid rather than feel your emotion and cope with it (Related Articles: Emotions 101: How To Be Healthy and 3 Principles Of Emotional Health).
How Do I Increase My Emotional Capacity?
You increase your emotional capacity through recognizing and feeling your emotions. Simply put. It’s easier said than done, however. If you are feeling your emotions and coping with them, then your ability to pick up uncomfortable emotions increases. If you are avoiding your emotions, then your ability to pick up uncomfortable emotions decreases. Your emotional muscles atrophy. They become weaker because you are not using them.
So, use those emotional muscles! Pick up your emotions. Yes, it’s going to be hard if you pick them up. However, it is going to be hard if you don’t pick them up. So, which ‘hard’ do you want in your life? The one that gives you a chance to get stronger or the one that makes you weaker. It’s hard either way.