Strengthen Your Defense

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Build Your Defense!

When you were a teenager, how did you feel after your first heart break? Did the world feel like it was coming to an end? How long did it take for you to bounce back and completely heal?

Did your parents divorce? How did you handle it? Did you harbor anger and/or act out in demonstration? Did you blame a parent or yourself?

Have you ever lost a family member or friend? How did you cope with the loss of a loved one?

When life throws us a curveball, we may be ill-prepared. When we are young, it doesn’t occur to us that something like this could ever happen, and we don’t even see them coming! When we experience a tragedy we are unfamiliar with, we have no foundation to base how we should think, feel, and act!

Think about it: Did you possess the tools needed for coping and protecting your heart after your first breakup? Probably not.

Building the Foundation

Devastating events can be very debilitating. Your mind is a battlefield, and a mind that isn’t defended before a battle begins, is in danger of an onslaught for more distress, trials and tribulations. An unprepared mind won’t survive unscathed for long.

Just as a fighter needs to develop his muscular fitness for a fight, we need to develop the muscles of our mind to defend us against life’s misfortunes. Additionally, a fighter will practice the same move thousands of times to develop his fighting instincts; he is able to appropriately and quickly respond to a threat without consciously thinking about it. Can you do this with your mind in times of stress? Can you recognize negative or detrimental thought patterns, sense negative emotions, and fight back?

We don’t plan for tragedies to occur, but that doesn’t stop them from happening.  Why don’t we sharpen our mental tools before difficulties arise? Feelings of helplessness can be overwhelming and mentally paralyzing, and having the instincts to use the tools you’ve previously developed can act as an emotional parachute when falling.

Developing and Sharpening Your Tools

When are you most receptive to new ways of thinking? Would it be it easy to change your thought pattern and just be happy if you were depressed? Of course not. When we are filled with anxiety, stress, sadness, or other complicated emotions, we are less able to think outside the box.

Climbing up from depression is not easy, but it would be simpler if you learned techniques when you are NOT depressed. It then seems to be a good idea to develop your emotional strengths and tools when things are going well and not emotionally taxed, right? This allows your mental faculties to be more available to developing new mental models that help you live a happier life; even when life throws rocks at you.  Or as my friend likes to say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of intervention!

To create a strong emotional foundation, we need to start by learning:

  • Self-Awareness of how we currently respond to the stresses of life. The understanding of our own emotions and current emotional responses is invaluable. It better prepares us to understand if we can trust an emotion that arises, or if we can trust the thoughts that stem from an emotion. When you understand your emotions, you are not ruled by them.
  • Self-regulation and control of our emotions and impulses. This means, not allowing ourself to get too angry even when anger is justified and not allowing ourselves to be jealous when a friend gets a bigger Christmas bonus. Practicing self-regulation ensures that we think before we act even when emotions are pumping.
  • Responsibility for our own happiness. Friends, family, spouse, coworkers, or even our pets are not responsible for our happiness. We are. These people have the ability to make us happier, but they are not in control of our baseline happiness. Take charge and grab hold of your own happiness, and then nurture it like a newborn child!

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Defenses

All this being said, here are five ideas on how to build your defenses and strengthen your emotional foundation:

  1. Take time to be alone – Many people always feel the need to be around others and require constant mental stimulation outside of themself. Make a decision to give yourself some time alone to allow for personal reflection.  Become more self-aware by meditating on your thoughts and see where they take you.
  2. Do a Self-Evaluation – Ask yourself: what are my weaknesses? What are my strengths?  When you are in the moment, ask yourself: Why did I react this way? How do I want to respond? Are these feelings justified?
  3. Develop a Support Network – Do you have friends or family you can rely on? If you need someone to talk to, who do you go to? Make sure you choose wisely.
  4. Open your ears – Have a support network? Listen to them! If you turn off your ears when they are trying to tell you something then you lose the value entirely of having a support network! Listen! Even if you think they are wrong or what they are saying is difficult to hear, listen first, then decide to accept their advice or not. Being stubborn will only hurt you.
  5. Read and Learn – Read books on personal development, emotional intelligence, and learn how the brain functions and how it affects how you think and feel! You don’t have to be dealing with a personal problem that needs fixing to learn something new about yourself.

How about you?  How do you prepare yourself mentally to handle the bumpy periods in your life?  Offer your own advice and share it with others!

This post was written by

Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at) studentofme.com!

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