Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

How to be emotionally strong when your world is crumbling around you

Have you ever experienced a time when you were filled with self-doubt and questioned your place in the world? We can’t always be emotionally strong and we all experience ‘wobbly moments’. Would you believe that up to 80% of us struggle with self-doubt and not feeling good enough? It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re on the outside looking in. It’s also quite normal if you feel that everybody else is coping well and that you are floundering. (This is rarely true by the way as we tend to compare our ‘behind-the-scenes-footage’ with other people’s ‘highlight reels’).

Feeling unsure of yourself or questioning your life decisions is a normal part of life – welcome to the club. What is important to consider is what you want to think about your situation and what you want to do about it. I have days where I feel disillusioned and fed up. Despite my best efforts, my plans do not always go the way I would hope and it’s easy to feel despondent and demoralised.

This is where a critical decision-making point occurs. You can either let the negative thoughts drown and overwhelm you or you can take some time out to regain perspective. Measured responses come from stopping and thinking – always PAUSE when you feel uncertain. Responding is far better than reacting.

Don’t believe every thought you think

In many ways, our brains have a mind of their own. Let Me Explain. One of the main purposes of your brain is to keep you safe. Our brains are not always adept at this process and intrusive scary thoughts filled with fear and do Mandarin can dominate our minds. Now intrusive thoughts are something we all experience. When you notice that your brain is sending you negative messages it’s vital to remind yourself that this is your brain to keep you safe.

Our brains use worry as a strategy for keeping us safe but our brains and to send as false alarms and a lot of nonsense as well. Not every thought that our brain ft us is useful and productive.

Get into the habit of seeing your thoughts as slightly separate from you. Some mental health professionals that I know even have a name for their brains. They will say something like, ” There goes Betty again trying to stress me out with negative thoughts.” They see their brain as a separate entity and don’t take every thought as the gospel truth.

The truth is that thoughts and reality are not really the same thing. We experience the world indirectly, influenced by our pre-existing attitudes fears and insecurities.

Remind yourself that you won’t always feel this way

The one thing in life that is inevitable is that change will always be coming. When it comes to feeling low or miserable, this is certainly good news. Maybe all you need is to have a good sleep to feel better and emotionally strong. Of course, some intense emotions will take longer to dissipate but while you are in the midst of the uncomfortable feelings, remind yourself that your emotions will not remain this intense forever. When you are in the thick of it, it may feel as if life will never be good again but I promise you that if you hang in there, where you will see brighter days.


Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

Take it one day at a time

The worst thing you can do is catastrophize. Imagining the worst-case scenario will only make you feel worse and it may never even materialize. This is another trick that our brains play on us. ‘Betty’ will send us thoughts such as:

I will be alone forever and nobody will ever love me for who I am

I am going to lose everything I have worked for and become homeless

I never get anything right and may as well give up

I am never going to get that promotion so I should stop trying

If I go to that party nobody will like me

I am a loser and everybody else is a winner

Our brains dish up nonsense like the above statements. You can choose to believe the statements or you can choose to dismiss them – it really is your choice. Dismissing useless thoughts helps you to feel emotionally strong. None of the above statements are based on fact – they are based on our fears and insecurities. Optimists tend to be better at filtering their thoughts and can maintain a more upbeat frame of mind.

Learn to detach from your chaotic mind and get back to living rather than overthinking. Do things that take up your attention such as a creative hobby or visit friends. Distract yourself when necessary to avoid the doom-mongering thoughts that your brain is creating. That’s right your brain is creating these ideas, not the outside world.

Problem-solve instead of worrying

Worry is wasted energy but problem-solving on the other hand is a far better way of dealing with problems. Sit down and make a list of what you could do to sort out your issues…Do don’t Think for better results.

Be kind to yourself and never criticise yourself

When you are in a vulnerable or fragile state it’s really important to show yourself compassion. Self-compassion involves acknowledging that you are experiencing normal human emotions that life brings to all of us. It’s ok to fail and it’s normal to be rejected at times or to feel that you aren’t good enough. This is completely normal and welcome to the messy world that we live in.

Don’t tell yourself that because you have failed or been rejected that there is something wrong with you. Make it a habit to remind yourself that you are worthy no matter whether you are rich or poor, single or in a relationship, thin or overweight and so on… None of these characteristics define worth. Society would disagree but you do not have to buy into society’s version of what worth is as it is extremely warped.

Decide for yourself what makes you worthy instead of allowing anyone else’s opinion of you to change your views of yourself. In an ever-changing world where social media dictates how we should look and behave, it’s even more important to carve out your own self-identity.

Reverse catfishing

I have noticed a shift whereby people are hungry for sincerity and for real people. They are beginning to reject superficial fake individuals. When there is too much that is fake or misleading, those wise people are true to themselves and accept themselves and they will be the ones that shine above the false facades out there.

Reverse catfishing is an example of this. show people that you’re a bit weird, a bit interesting. Everyone has heard of ‘catfishing’: when someone presents themselves as ‘better’ than they are in real life on social media platforms or dating apps. They might heavily edit their photos, or in extreme cases, use photos of someone else entirely. But now, people are doing precisely the opposite of this: presenting themselves as ‘worse’ than they are in real life, supposedly to ‘pleasantly surprise’ their date when they actually meet up. Think pictures of users caught off-guard, in media res: eating or blinking or talking (or… in the rain at a festival). It’s a trend that has been dubbed ‘reverse catfishing’.


Learn how to self-soothe and emotionally regulate on your own

When you are feeling stressed out and a little lost, it is tempting to reach out to others to feel better about your situation. This is normal in many ways because we are social creatures and we need acceptance and reassurance from other people.

If you find that you need other people how to calm yourself down you might be someone that struggles to to emotionally regulate themselves. Individuals who find it difficult to self soothe and manage their emotions have often experienced trauma in their childhood’s. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule but if you were neglected or ignored as a child you may not have learnt the skills of emotional regulation.

What you can do is sit with your emotions when they feel really uncomfortable, instead of the knee jerk reaction of involving other people in every dilemma you face. Show yourself compassion and create a healthy space where you can process your emotions and gain more control over them. Learning to self-soothe is an incredibly important skill.

It will help you to feel more in control of the world around you because you carry this core skill within you. The ability to emotionally regulate yourself is a skill that strengthens your foundation and stability in the world. Learning to rely on yourself rather than on the external world as the ticket to your healthy functioning is one of the most resilient skills you can adopt.

Use positive coping statements as an adjunct to your self-soothing. Find statements that work for you that help you to feel safer in the world. Here are a few examples of positive coping statements:

This too shall pass

No matter what comes my way I will find a way around it

The world supports me and guides me in the right direction

Everything is unfolding as it is meant to

I am safe and I am loved

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems

The above statements are great examples of words that you can say to yourself to feel stronger and empowered. Remember that life spares no one from challenges and hardship. It’s what you do about what happens to you that counts. Be aware of your negative thoughts that try to bring you down and when thoughts refuse to die down (I call them “sticky thought” find something to distract yourself in the meantime.

Create a happy music playlist or watch a funny film – do whatever works for you at that moment. Detach from your chaotic mind and focus on the real world around you. Everyone would agree on the chair that is in your room and the television in the corner but whatever is going on inside your head is always up for negotiation. Think of your thoughts as leaves on a stream that are passing you by. You can notice the thoughts and say to  yourself – I can see that I’m having a thought that nobody likes me, I thought passed by gently. Notice the thoughts (or the thoughts represented as leaves) and don’t pay them too much attention. Once you start to buy into that thought it will start to take up your attention and the downward negative spiral will begin.

We all experience tough times in life but you can help yourself by why giving yourself time to process your emotions, and once your emotions feel less intense perspective will return. Manage your inner dialogue and speak kindly to yourself with optimism whenever you can. If you truly feel that you cannot find your way out of the dark tunnel, you can always consider speaking to a therapist who will help you decipher what your next best step could be.

Hang in there – we all experience dark times and the light will soon be back to guide you. You just never know what amazing things might be waiting around the corner for you.

Mandy X

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash