Do You Want to Build Your Emotional Strength?

Frequently, I hear people say this or that isn’t “fair.” Unfortunately, life is not always fair. It can be hard to know who and what to trust. We live in an imperfect world. If there is a need of proof of living in an imperfect world, you can look at corporate and institutional scandals as well as fabricated stories by politicians, editors and journalists.

According to the University of Chicago National Opinion Research Center, 53 percent of Americans believed most people could be trusted in 1964. Pew Research compiled an index of public trust released in early 2007. Individuals responded to the question, “Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?”

• 45% believed most people are trustworthy.
• 35% of all adults fell into the “high social trust” category.
• 38% fell into the “low trust” category.
• 27% were in the middle range.

How do you answer the question, “Can most people be trusted?” If your answer is “no”, does it affect your general attitude about life? The latest research coming out of Positive Psychology indicates pessimism is harmful to your health:

• Intellectually
• Emotionally and
• Physically.

During times like this, one thing you can do is build your emotional strength. On a daily basis, you make an important choice to be pessimistic or optimistic about the world you live in, who you are, and what you can accomplish.

When you are pessimistic, you are less alert intellectually. It takes longer to come up with answers to problems. When you have a negative view about people, events and yourself, you are more likely to be irritable and to hold on to anger. This negatively affects your relationships. In addition, your immune system is weakened which makes you more vulnerable to illness.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to build your emotional strength and immune system. Even when you cannot control a situation or influence those who do, you can choose to manage yourself.

You have a choice about how to live in an imperfect world. It is possible to build your emotional strength by following these tips:

• Identify your top three to five values. These are things that are important to you, i.e. honesty, humor, independence, and creativity. Choose to find ways to include them in your life daily. Live your values.
• Choose to make a plan to achieve something that is important to you each day. Even if you only work on it for 15 minutes, it is valuable in building your self-esteem.
• Choose to accept what cannot be changed in your life.
• Choose to seek out what is good in yourself, in others, in things, and in situations as opposed to what is negative.
• Choose to focus on things you are grateful for and appreciate. By doing this, you can change your thought patterns from hopeless to hopeful.
• Choose to believe you are not a victim if bad things have happened to you. Victims stay stuck.
• Choose to see yourself as a problem solver by seeking solutions.
• Choose to be consistent in what you say and do. This is critical in building trust with others.
• Choose to seek out positive alternatives to reduce stress in your life. Having fun is recharging even if it is for a short time.

Life is rarely the way it is suppose to be. Instead, life is the way it is. The way you choose to cope with what cannot be changed makes the difference. It is possible to build your emotional strength and live an engaging and meaningful life. Look for ways to start your day well, and choose to be optimistic about its outcome.

Copyright (c) 2007 Maurine Patten