Six Habits that Lead to Emotional Security
Research suggests that yes, you can. Doing what emotionally secure people do creates results.
What do emotionally secure people do? What follows is a list of good habits, based on research and years of experience studying people who seem to have it together.
1. Be Willing to Apologize
Did you know that refusing to apologize may actually boost your ego? It gives you a false sense of moral superiority. This creates insecurity because you then must defend your ego, fearing that it won’t hold up to social scrutiny.
Apologizing leads to empathy.
Would you rather have a big (if fragile) ego or be connected to someone? Studies show that when you sincerely apologize, you receive empathy. This empathy is a powerful connection to another person.
Empathy is a sign of maturity and emotional security. One famous author and lecturer put it this way:
To the immature, other people are not real.
Immature people cannot empathize with others. They are too caught up in themselves and typically do not connect with the humanity of others. Their sense of self (or ego) is all an extremely immature person can fathom.
Since nobody is capable of perfection, it seems doubly important to learn to apologize, admit when you are wrong, and confess your limitations.
2. Take a Lesson from NLP and Go Second Position
In NLP, we call it second position. It refers to your ability to put yourself in someone else’s ‘perceptual position.’ In other words, how well can you identify with what someone else is thinking or feeling?
If you cannot do this, emotional insecurity will rule your life. We are social creatures. If you cannot identify with others, you are destined to feel isolated and alone.
A lot of us consider someone else’s point of view haphazardly, only when it randomly occurs to us. We encourage our NLP students to immerse themselves in others’ point of view on purpose. Learning to sort out three critical perceptual positions (self, other, observer) gives you the tools to navigate almost any disagreement and remain socially connected.
3. Be Willing to Accept failure
Emotionally secure people can recognize and accept failure. This may be why two top prep schools in England teach failure as part of their intended curriculum. At Oxford Prep School for Girls, the administration actually created tests that were impossible to achieve 100%. Intentionally setting their students up for failure gave teachers the opportunity to mentor students on resiliency.
Wimbledon High School follows suit by running a ‘failure week’ to help nurture resilience.
Is all this necessary? According to Eddy Newton, Chairman of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, losing – or at least, losing gracefully – is a vital skill for students to learn. “You are going to be going for interviews and not be offered a job, so you are going to have to learn to come second or lower than second,” she said.
4. Learn to Manage Self-Criticism
Self-criticism is a universal stumbling block. It may be the most common psychological hang up in existence. The inner critic is pervasive and no one is immune. Constant self-criticism (even if it involves replaying parental criticism over and over) creates a ton of insecurity.
Emotionally secure people handle their inner critic and do not allow it to get the best of them. There are several ways to do this. You can befriend your inner critic by listening to it and extracting the value behind the criticism. You can train your mind to be still. You can tune into the present moment (the external world) where there is calm and quiet.
You can move beyond self-criticism. Emotional security lies on the other side of it.
5. Take a Big Step Back
Taking a more objective viewpoint on your own life gives you access to the big picture. Emotionally immature people tend to be more impulsive and make poor decisions, which only create more problems to feel insecure about.
One solution is to step back and consider the big picture before making decisions.
According to University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross, “We aren’t very good at trying to analyze our feelings to make ourselves feel better. It’s an invaluable human ability to think about what we do, but reviewing our mistakes over and over, re-experiencing the same negative emotions we felt the first time around, tends to keep us stuck in negativity. It can be very helpful to take a sort of mental time-out, to sit back and try to review the situation from a distance.”
Kross completed a very interesting study that suggested people who step back and view their problems from a distance experience less depression.
6. Would You Rather Be Right or Be Happy?
That age-old question applies here: Would you rather be right or be happy?
Imagine: you get to be right all the time, but you are totally miserable. Or, you get to be wrong much of the time, but totally happy and content with your life. Which do you choose?
Most people choose to be right and miserable. In fact, one ridiculous study even claimed that it is better to be right than to be happy. In the study, a husband decided to agree with his wife, no matter what, for a period of time. In the end, he became so miserable that he had to end the study. Therefore, researchers began to conclude that being right may be preferable to being happy.
This study just proves that blind agreement even when you disagree is makes you miserable. Duh.
The key is not to blindly agree and be wrong for no reason. The point is to be open to when you are, in fact, wrong and freely admit it. When you legitimately disagree, then stick to your guns. Of course, if you legitimately believe you are right all the time, then you need more help than this article can offer.
The Bottom Line
Emotional security is a skill. If you learn to do what secure people do, then your level of emotional security will rise, guaranteed. The primary enemy to implementing these easy to learn skills is, of course, self-sabotage.
If you are mysteriously more attracted to a less secure, more miserable way of being in the world, then you MUST look at the underlying psychological attachments that cause you to get in your own way. Click here to watch a free video about self-sabotage.
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Bundrant, M. (2014). Six Habits that Lead to Emotional Security. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 30, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/2014/01/six-habits-that-lead-directly-to-emotional-security/