Strengthening Your Emotional Core
As an avid exerciser who’s used various fitness trainers over the decades, the commonality they’ve all had is their focus on strengthening core body muscles—specifically back, abs and glutes. Keeping your core strong provides balance and facilitates effective movement. In that same way, strengthening your emotional core will be sure to keep you steady and rolling smoothly along.
By your emotional core, I mean all facets of emotional management—identifying, acknowledging, experiencing, and responding to your feelings, including:
knowing specifically what you feel pretty much all the time or being able to figure it out down the road. Being open to and having fluency with your feelings—
staying in touch with whatever affect accompanies you while you’re going about living your life—is the foundation of building an emotional core. The goal is to be able to feel any emotion any time and travel anywhere in the affective realm.
recognizing your stuff/baggage/triggers and what belongs to someone else. This may not happen in the moment, and may take reflection and/or reality testing with trusted people. It’s tricky business and not easily sorted out. But after a while you’ll come to know your hot buttons which helps separate your “stuff” from that of others. You’ll also get to know the hot buttons of people who are close to you.
containing and expanding your feelings as necessary. Sometimes you’ll need to use inner resources to sit with feelings no matter how intense they are, and other times it will help to express and share them. To have an emotionally healthy core, you need to be effective at both skills.
being comfortable with the intense affect of other people without becoming disregulated by them (at least not too often!). When we’re with disregulated folks, it’s work (even for someone like me with professional training) to not become disregulated by them, but with practice, the task gets easier. The idea is to catch yourself as you become emotionally discombobulated and get on firmer ground.
You build core emotional strength the same way that you build core physical strength:
by focusing on each component exclusively and repeatedly. So many of you never learned emotional skills in your dysfunctional families, but expect to have them now. How could you? The good news is that by developing emotional competence, you’ll find dealing with food and weight issues so much easier. You’ll feel more solid and secure knowing you have a strong foundation to handle whatever comes your way.