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How Mentally Strong People Survive Stressful Situations Without Emotional Breakdowns

How Mentally Strong People Survive Stressful Situations Without Emotional Breakdowns

Have you ever had an emotional breakdown?

I had. It was about two years ago. At this time I worked in a job I absolutely hated and I accidentally deleted a document that I worked on for more than five hours when it happened.

The moment I deleted the file, my hands started to shake, I sweated all over my body and the only thing that I wanted to do was to cry and to throw my freaking laptop out of the window. The only reason why my boss didn’t call the ambulance was because I was able to hold back my tears until I was on the toilet.

In case you think that five wasted hours are not a reason for a meltdown, you are already mentally stronger than I have been at this time. If you, however, understand the pain I felt, you most likely don’t handle stressful situations the way mentally strong people handle them.

Don’t worry. I had to read countless personal development books until I was finally able to survive stressful situations without bruises, strokes and heart attacks. After reading all those books and studying psychology at the university, I realized that mentally strong people who have no problem with stressful situations have ten things in common.

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They don’t see things worse than they are

Whereas people who are very bad at handling stressful situations regard every problem as a reason why the world could end tomorrow, mentally strong people don’t make a problem bigger than it is. I am sure you know those people who freak out as soon something doesn’t work the way they want.

A person who is good at handling stressful situations would never see things worse than they are. A certain dose of realism is way better than too much pessimism.

They are better at accepting reality

The biggest problem that I had when I had my emotional breakdown was that I was still in denial about what happened. I refused to accept the fact that five hours of work got flushed down the toilet by clicking on the wrong button.

If I would have simply accepted what happened, I would have been able to move on within seconds, instead of regretting what I did for the next couple of hours.

They know that stress can be positive

During my psychology studies, I learned that stress can be an extremely positive state of mind. The big problem is that people who can’t deal with stressful situations interpret every indication of stress as a negative condition that should be avoided at all cost, without seeing its benefits.

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Mentally strong people know that stress can be a huge motivating power that can lead to more motivation and a higher level of success. If I wouldn’t put myself under stress by setting a deadline for this article, you wouldn’t be able to read this now.

They interpret stressful situations as opportunities to learn

For most people, stressful situations are a pain in the ass. They fear them, they try to avoid them and they try to put an end to the stress as soon as it arises. This behavior is great if you don’t want to leave your comfort zone, but it is terrible if you want to grow and learn.

The reason why you end up being in a stressful situation is most likely attributed to a mistake you made. A mentally strong person knows that the situation in which he maneuvered himself into offers a great opportunity to learn from mistakes, and to grow as a person as well.

They enjoy the process of becoming stress-resilient

In the same way as you become more confident around men or women, the more of them that you approach, the more likely you are to become more stress-resilient, and the more stressful situations you survive.

Whereas a mentally weak person is afraid to go through this hellish process, a mentally strong person knows that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that makes him more resilient for the next stressful situation he has to face.

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They use techniques to calm their minds

What do people who are bad at handling stressful situations do when they are faced with one? They freak out, they break down and they cry for their mothers.

What do mentally strong people do in the same situation? They meditate. The reason why some people can deal with stressful situations and others can’t has nothing to do with God-given powers or a genetic predisposition.

They simply have tools and techniques, such as meditation or autogenic training, that help them to cope with situations that other people can’t cope with.

They are not too proud to search for advice

Sometimes the reason for stress is your inability to handle a situation on your own. And do you know what? That’s absolutely fine. We all reach points in our lives where we need help from other people.

Unfortunately, some people are too stubborn and too proud to ask others for help. Thank God there are also people who know that it is easier to deal with a stressful situation if you master it together.

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They know the difference between real problems and ego problems

When I think back to the day when I had my emotional breakdown I have to admit that I wasn’t faced with a real problem. Yes, my document was gone forever and I had worked for five hours without any reward, but was that really such a big problem?

Nobody except me knew it and I was sure that my boss would never fire me because of such a little mistake. The only reason why I suffered so much was because my ego was hurt. While most people think that a stressful situation is a huge problem, mentally strong people detect when it’s only their ego that is a bit hurt.

They are able to read the symptoms

Prevention is better than cure and the reason why mentally strong people can prevent stressful situations from happening is because they can read the symptoms. You need a certain mental and emotional strength in order to develop a high awareness for the signs your body sends out.

You can handle stressful situations way better if you rethink the way you do things as soon as your heart starts to race and your hands start to shake.

They learned to control their emotions

The most important skill that allows mentally strong people to survive stressful situations without emotional breakdowns is that they learned to control their emotions. A lot of people are victims to their own emotion who have no clue how to control them.

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If you can learn how to control your emotions, the next stressful situation you will face will feel like a walk in the park.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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