I see a fundamental problem in the way that people approach life, one I’d like to make sure you avoid. For too often we want to change things outside of us. We want to get other people to change, to control people or circumstances or avoid what things we think could hurt us. We do this,instead of taking the infinitely harder approach of changing the only thing that is under our control.
How many people live their lives afraid of getting burned and in the process feel bored or unfulfilled because they dare not stretch themselves?
How many people rob themselves of richer relationships and more meaningful and satisfying experiences through fear?
Your life is too valuable, your potential too great and the risks of playing safe are ultimately too costly for you to focus on building shields and barriers around you. Today, I want to advocate to you, that you let go of any attempt to shield yourself or hold life at a distance lest it may hurt you. Instead I recommend you build a strong core of emotional well-being inside of you that brings you strength and nurtures your ability to cope with whatever life throws at you.
If you think about it, being happy is like staying healthy. We are mostly happy until something in our life breaks down or happens to make us stressed, angry or upset. In the same way, we are healthy until either something breaks down or a disease infects us.
We Don’t Get Sick Because Of A Virus, We Only Notice Viruses When Our Immunity Drops
We’re in flu season here and though it’s not as cold as usual, this is usually the time of year when people around us are coughing and spluttering while their Friends and Colleagues try to keep their distance for fear of catching their germs.
The fact is though, that however paranoid we are about avoiding viruses and germs, it’s impossible to. Studies show that we touch on average 300 surfaces in a half hour period and so we are regularly exposed to all kinds of bacteria and viruses.
What is really interesting is that though we often speak as though catching a cold is a simple matter of being within range of the virus. Much research has been done to expose people to viruses and measure their responses. Not everyone exposed to the virus gets sick, in one particular study, about half showed no outwardly visible symptoms.
However all Participants showed an immune reaction to the infection 36 hours before any symptoms were noticed. In fact, those that stayed well had a stronger immune reaction. In other words they fought so strongly against the infection that they completely defeated it. This suggests that there is a window of opportunity where if our immune system notices and mounts a strong defence against infection, we stay healthy. So the deciding factor in whether we stay fit and healthy or get sick is down to the health and efficiency of our immune system. When we are at full strength, we can soon shake off viruses and bugs.
It’s when there is something, maybe too much stress, being overloaded with work or burning the midnight oil, that causes us to be under par that our immune system doesn’t work as efficiently and it is then that we are vulnerable to attack from whatever viruses and bacteria are lurking. They were and are always there, it’s just when we drop our defences that they really attack us.
So the best health solution isn’t to be concerned with avoiding this or that, but to maintain our own balance, strength and well-being.
I have this philosophy with emotional well-being. I think it is less important that we worry about potential threats that our media loves to frighten us with or focus on our doubts and worries than to maintain a strong core of well-being.
It’s Not Life We Have To Worry About, It’s Our Ability To Cope With Life
In much the same way as we have a physical immune system, we have an emotional immune system that when we are balanced and emotionally strong can shirk off the everyday problems life throws at us. It’s when we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed or when we have insecurities that open up chinks in our emotional immunity that we find life too much to cope with.
When we have the time and space to deal with situations, life is fine. It is when we have everything thrown at us together too fast for our ability to effectively deal with it that we struggle to cope.
The real problem isn’t stressful times, awkward people or the misfortunes of life. The real problem is when we lose our strength and resilience to tackle what comes at us. And that happens to us all. It’s easy to lose our motivation, to lose direction or purpose. Staying strong and healthy takes conscious effort, but it can be done. In fact it has to be done if we are to live a happy and healthy life.
Emotional immunity brings us freedom from stress, fear and anxiety. In other words the freedom to go out into the world and live an adventurous and fulfilling life.
There are many components to developing a strong emotional immune system, but the main three are;
- The ability to manage fear and negative emotions
- Building the confidence to go out and do what you want to do – and do it well
- Developing a deep respect for yourself and others so that you interact with the world in a way that brings you peace, fulfillment and love.
The deeper these are embedded, the more resilient, resourceful and secure we are.