How do you deal when the going gets tough?
I love a good reality show because, as a psychology nerd, I learn so much about how people work — how they fail, how they deal with inner flaws, and how they get back up again. Snowflake Mountain on Netflix is the latest great example of this.
The show’s premise is to put a bunch of “spoiled Gen-Zers” out into the woods and teach them how to be more responsible for themselves and others.
A lesson that stuck out to me was about mental toughness — one contestant confronted some hard feedback about his body’s limitations and reacted by throwing a temper tantrum.
“This is your mountain,” the leaders said to them. “Everybody breaks. Don’t let it break you (in your mind.)”
So what do you do when things don’t go your way?
Our lives are full of challenging feedback, disappointments and things not going our way. We can’t control that (even though we pretend otherwise).
What we CAN control is how we react. We can let our emotions run us and throw a tantrum, like the contestant did in the show, eventually injuring himself and creating a lot of additional and unnecessary complications.
The other option is to develop emotional sovereignty. The ability to self-soothe and then bring the emotional intensity down to a manageable place.
You can build this ability by listening to your feelings while staying centered and taking time before you respond.
When your emotions run the show, it’s like letting the scared horses drag your carriage all over town, wreaking havoc and creating a huge mess that you have to clean up.
To bolster your own emotional sovereignty, try this —
- The next time you get negative feedback or disappointing news, give yourself a private time out
- See if you can witness your feelings WITHOUT acting from them, aka do not write the email reply or speak back to the person
- Just breathe and witness yourself. Notice your own feelings
I’ve found that if I give myself half a day to just be with my feelings and watch my thoughts without immediately reacting, my perspective will change. I have more nuance in how I think about what happened and I come up with more options for how I can choose to react.
I bet if you try this, you will notice the same.