Improving Emotional Self-Reliance

March 15, 2020

Elizabeth Patterson

       Simple tips to help better your emotional self-reliance. These activities can come in handy in countless situations and are powerful tools. I have discovered them through talking to professionals, friends, and the random day to day moments. I don’t claim them as my own, but I can attest they can make a difference in helping you move forward and find joy in the little things.

  • Thought flipping: Often when a negative thought or worry can slip into your mind. Discouragement is one of the adversary’s greatest tools. He wants you to think that others think negatively of you or that the day’s activity will turn out poorly. The most important thing is to recognize that there is always a flip side. Those around you are probably busy thinking about other things and if anything, simply want to help. The day lies full of possibilities and there are many more positive ones than negative. So, flip your thoughts. It’s like the primary song, “Flip that frown right upside down and smile that frown away.” Positive thoughts are just as real and much more powerful than any discouraging thought can be. You can always find a flip side and have fun with it.

  • Engage the 5 senses: As negative emotions build up you can easily get pulled out of the present. A way to stop a worry train is to instantly engage the five senses. When you notice your mind slipping into a negative loop, stop look and listen, the same principle for crossing the street. Recognize where your emotions are going and take the time to look and listen.

    • Find five things to look at. It could be the detailing of a brick wall, the brilliant blue sky, or the tiniest pebble.

    • Then find four things you can hear. This one is always fun because your mind can hear the smallest detail when you let it even the rustle of your jacket or the crunch of bark.

    • After that, find three things you can touch whether it is tree bark or just your shoelace.

    • Next two things you can smell, my favorite thing is the crisp smell of a spring morning.

    • Finally, one thing you can taste. Take a drink of water or maybe snack on something sweet. After engaging all five senses it’s hard not to smile and feel refreshed with the beautiful world all around you.

  • Carry around a small item or keep something on your desk or in your room that helps you smile. Small things can bring the most joy. There are little treasures all around us and seeing them can brighten our day and help us be more rooted to reality. For me, I collect slinkies. Yep, slinkies. It is the best way to start a conversation in a new class or work setting. It doesn’t seem like much, but I have found that you simply can’t be sad when playing with a slinky. I end up smiling as I play with the little spring and it takes great effort to be down. So, find your thing that brings a smile to your face. It could be rocks, sticky hands, or a plant. Having something with you that you enjoy and is unique can help you develop greater emotional self-reliance and mentioning it to others can brighten their day as well.

Be in the Present


      Ultimately the point of each of these tips is to keep you in the present. Each person is unique, and these can work differently according to your needs and situation. The goal though is to be firmly rooted in the present. The adversary wields discouragement and distraction as his greatest weapons because they remove us from the present and halt our progress. The present is where we can find hope and joy. Lloyd Newel said that being fully in the present comes from a deep hope within us. These days will pass, and we can find joy in the present.  As C.S. Lewis has said, the present is our only connection to eternity. The joys and wonders of life happen today so jump into the present and you will find a greater capacity for emotional self-reliance.