So far we have covered the first three Paradoxes from Gretchen Rubin's Nine Paradoxes to Contemplate as You Consider Your Happiness Project.
- Accept myself, but expect more of myself.
- Take myself less seriously—and take myself more seriously
- Push myself to use my time efficiently, yet also make time to play, to wander, to read at whim, to fail.
Moving on to the fourth paradox we come to: Strive to be emotionally self-sufficient so I can connect better with other people. This is one that has been hard for me in
past but at the same time once you relies it and apply it to your life it can have a profound impact.
Emotional self-sufficiency is not being closed off and protective of how you feel. Instead it is taking responsibility for your emotional state. This happens in a few different stages, some of these may come naturally to you or they may not, even so being aware of them will help. The first stage is an acceptance of emotion, it is ok to be happy, it is ok to be sad, the same holds true for anger, rage, jealousy, joy, nervousness, pleasure, it is ok to feel. We can get in the trap of putting our feelings on hold, bottling up our frustrations and not dealing with our emotions. The second stage is to take control of our emotions, understand why we feel what we feel.
Emotional self-sufficiency is about being in touch with our emotions and not dependent on others to tell us how we feel. When we become comfortable with our own emotional state we can react and interact with the emotional states of others with ease. This happens because we can experience their emotional state without it become our emotional state. Rather than empathizing, truly feeling the pain of others, we can sympathize, support and comfort others without damaging ourselves. This is not to say that there is no place for empathy but it does create risk. If we are not emotionally self-sufficient, we are in a situation where we are overly dependent on the emotional states of others to tell us how we feel. In this state one bad mood can ruin our day. Because of this we put up defenses, we do not allow ourselves to connect with people. On the other hand if we are acting sympathetically we can touch them emotionally without it rubbing off on us. We can feel bad for them without feeling bad for ourselves.
It may seem that I am focusing on the negative emotions here. However if we understand how to connect with others we will find more joy, love and happiness in our own lives.