Guest Blog: The Power of Strengthening Your Emotional Fitness
I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m at the meeting table, sitting across from my two bosses. I’m standing up against a change they want to implement that would impact the whole team, but each of my suggestions is being met with disdain and outright refusal. My emotional reaction starts in my belly, rising quickly like a bushfire up into my throat. It feels like it’s closing in, and with each breath, my words became heavier and heavier with emotion.
I’ve since learned there’s a word to describe this experience – verklempt – and just as the word sounds, the experience is extremely uncomfortable and incredibly embarrassing. As the reaction intensified, and my efforts to control it did nothing, I conceded and threw in the fight. Walking out of that meeting room my head hung low. The disappointment I felt towards myself was experienced as internal punches thrown alongside repetitions of “Why am I like this? Why do I let my emotions get the better of me?” And then a quieter voice was heard asking “Surely we must be able to change this, somehow?”.
That experience, 7 years ago, was a catalyst for me. As moments of discomfort often are, aren’t they? We go to places we never dreamed we would. Feel things we never wanted to feel. And they serve as an inspiration, a motivation for change.
Along the journey of seeking to change my relationship with my emotions, I’ve come across a number of impactful tools, concepts, and approaches that have guided me, supported me, and helped me to transform. I now share these with clients during our emotional fitness coaching sessions, and it’s an honor to be invited to share some of these with you today, in hopes that they can be a spark of inspiration and support for you, too.
Let’s start by exploring what happened back in that meeting room, shall we?
At that time I didn’t know much about the power of your nervous system and the vital role it plays in your emotional regulation.
I didn’t understand that what I was experiencing was a common reaction to stress. Dysregulation in the form of hyperarousal (commonly called ‘fight or flight’) and then hypoarousal (know as ‘freeze, faint, fawn, and foggy brain’).
It wasn’t until I was introduced to the concept of The Window of Tolerance (WOT) during my Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT Tapping) training with Canada’s National EFT Training Institute in 2018 that this awareness was gained.
The image below gives you an introduction to this concept and was inspired by the teachings of The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioural Medicine:
From this, I came to understand that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. That it’s a natural and normal biological function to react to emotional situations this way. That I AM HUMAN! This was indeed a liberating moment. But yet, still, I wanted to be able to change it.
Armed with this newfound understanding, the next puzzle piece that fell into place came when I read the following quote:
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
As referenced in the WOT, dysregulation is not something you choose, it’s a SUBCONSCIOUS REACTION that happens. When you are dysregulated your conscious mind goes offline. As Dr. Dan Siegel frames it you have ‘flipped your lid’. Only once you are able to regulate your nervous system and come back into your WOT are you able to CONSCIOUSLY RESPOND, and act in a way that is more aligned with who and how you want to be! (Oh if only I had a $1 for each time I’ve daydreamed about the way I would have responded in that meeting had I been able to come back into a regulated state!)
“Ok Kels, this is good stuff, I’m following along and now I want to understand just how do I return to regulation, or better yet, not become dysregulated in the first place?”
Great question my friend. Here’s what I know that can help you with this…
When it comes to expanding your WOT and toning your nervous system, you need to practice self-regulating in both a PROACTIVE and REACTIVE way. It’s by actively taking both of these approaches that you will help to strengthen your emotional fitness.
“My what? EMOTIONAL fitness?”
Yup, you read that correctly. What exactly do I mean by emotional fitness?
Well just as we each have our own idea of what it means to be physically fit, one of the questions that I ask when a potential client signs up for a connection call with me is ‘What is your personal definition of Emotional Fitness?’
Here are some of their answers …
♥ “Being able to move smoothly between emotional states.”
♥ “Being okay sitting with my feelings, not being afraid to express them.”
♥ “Managing, accepting, and expressing my emotions in a healthy way.”
♥ “Being able to respond not react.”
My personal definition of emotional fitness is your ability to be with, and experience your emotions, from within a regulated state. You achieve this by learning how to navigate your emotions from a place of love and acceptance, kindness and compassion.
When it comes to learning how to approach your emotions in this way, there are a number of different tools and modalities that can help you strengthen your emotional fitness!
I’m sure you’ve heard of, and maybe even practice, a number of these already. Below is a list of my favorites, that I use personally and professionally to support myself and my clients.
- EFT Tapping
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
- Reiki, Chakra Balancing, and other Energy Medicine techniques
- Sound Healing
- Mindful Movement e.g. Pilates, Yoga, Qigong
- Thai Massage and Facial Stretching
Along your own journey, you have likely learned that when faced with a stressful situation taking a calming breath, or using some EFT Tapping, can help you to regulate at that moment. This is a REACTIVE approach to supporting your nervous system. It’s great. It works. Keep doing it! And I also invite you to ponder the possibility of …
“What if, in situations like this, I was able to avoid dysregulation and maintain my state of regulation throughout?”
Here’s where the power of being PROACTIVE comes in.
The proactive practice of strengthening your emotional fitness isn’t an easy one, but then again, neither are 100 sit-ups. Both are a form of eustress – the “good stress” – that we choose to experience, in order to become fitter, healthier, happier humans.
- Just as bicep curls will help you build up “your guns”.
- Running on the treadmill increases your cardiovascular endurance.
- And planking is a mighty fine way to strengthen your core.
Engaging in regular practices of the above-listed tools and modalities will help to increase the capacity of your nervous system and strengthen your emotional fitness.
- You may attend a weekly Breathwork or Sound Healing group session.
- Follow along to on-demand Meditations or Mindful Movement classes, and
- Be supported one-on-one by a practitioner using EFT Tapping or NLP.
Each of these experiences will help to expand your ability to be with and experience uncomfortable emotions while maintaining a sense of conscious connection. And over time your Window of Tolerance will expand and you’ll begin to notice your ability to remain calm and regulated, able to choose how you respond in challenging situations.
So why is this important?
The ultimate goal is to empower you to confidently use your energy for impact.
What does it mean to use your energy for impact? It means to be proud of who and how you’re being. Showing up for yourself and in relationships with others feeling grounded and acting in alignment with your values, wants, and needs.
It’s enjoying living life as YOU. And continually learning just who that is, as you navigate the endless path of becoming a better version of yourself.
As someone who is doing the ongoing work of healing from trauma by unlearning and redefining my tendencies of perfectionism, people-pleasing, obliging, being overly emotional, having intense self-judgment, and struggling with imposter syndrome, I know firsthand the energy and effort that is required to invest in supporting yourself on this path.
It is by no means easy, but my goodness is it worth it. Because when I reconnect with the version of me who had the experience in that meeting all those years ago, I am proud and grateful to reassure her that I listened to that voice.
That I am actively creating the change that I desire in my life to help myself show up in a way where I am using my energy for impact. And that by following that spark, I have found my passion in supporting others to do so as well.
Emotional Fitness Coach and Founder of Energy For Impact
Kelsey Corey is an Emotional Fitness Coach, energy expert, and avid hugger. Kelsey helps people of all ages learn how to apply easy, enjoyable, and efficient emotional fitness tools, so they can feel more in control, experience less stress, and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Over the last ten years, Kelsey has shared her breadth of expertise, experience, and enthusiasm with a range of businesses and clients, from high-level execs to elementary school kids. She incorporates a range of well-being modalities that help to regulate your emotional state, in the face of stress and challenges. Empowering you to be able to choose how you respond, choose who and how you’re being, and choose how you’re using your energy for impact.
Her optimistic and passionate style is uplifting and inspiring. Kelsey’s clients love her infectious positivity and realistic and practical approach. She is driven by an unshakeable commitment to empowering others to transform their experience of stress, embrace their emotions, and love the life they live.