On the topic of happy emotions, I read that Jada Pinkett Smith believes the key to happiness is to create emotional independence. Perhaps one could call it emotional strength or resilience in the face of tough situations. She has learned how to work through difficult emotions without needing to talk to a friend or speak to her husband or get outside advice.
First, I don’t think there is anything weak or wrong about talking through a difficult situation with friends, spouses, life coaches, or therapists. I also think there may be a limit to how much you should rely on others for help. While they may want to help, they simply may not have the training or ability to help. There are many trained professionals who are there to help you get through really tough times. So please don’t feel like you have to go it alone when facing a difficult emotional situation or loss.
On the other hand, learning to be emotionally independent is a rite of passage to adulthood. It has the wonderful side benefit of making you more confident and more attractive. We eventually tire of friends who are too needy or always complaining.
So, how do you create emotional independence? The first step is to discover what your own unique set of personal and emotional needs are. There are over 100 different personal and emotional needs. So narrowing it down to your own top four needs can be a challenge. However, we’ve made this as easy as possible by creating a free quiz you can take online.
The free Emotional Index Quiz will ask simple questions to help you see what you truly need. Most people don’t know what their own top four needs are. So, just by taking the quiz you’ll be more emotionally intelligent than most! And once you know what you need, it is much easier to get those needs satisfied.
Most people assume that we have the same needs as other humans. While this may be true to some extent, I’ve seen a huge variety in emotional needs. The most common needs are to be loved, appreciated, heard or understood, respected, valued and touched. However some people need to be included, while others need balance or peace, and some need order and clarity.
Once you’ve identified your top four needs, the next step to build emotional independence is to set in place boundaries. Boundaries protect you, giving your needs a chance to be fulfilled. For example, if you have the emotional need to be appreciated, you may find taking negative feedback or criticism particularly painful or difficult. One critical remark might rankle more than it should. Your friends might tell you to toughen up, but that won’t help if you need to be appreciated. The boundary, “People can’t give me unsolicited criticism” is essential for you. Without that boundary, you’ll find it very difficult to get the appreciation you need. The boundary protects you from unwanted criticism. But how can you tell people about this boundary without seeming like a prima donna?
Use the four-step communication model. Boundaries are how you toughen up without putting up walls. I write about needs and boundaries extensively in The Secret Laws of Attraction because they are so important to being irresistibly attractive, not just in our personal relationships, but also in successful professional relationships. You won’t get promoted if you aren’t respected and you won’t get the respect you deserve without boundaries. It is very hard to feel happy emotions if your emotional needs aren’t fulfilled.
The key to emotional resilience isn’t so much about doing it all alone as Jada suggests. Rather, it’s about taking responsibility for satisfying your own personal and emotional needs. Most people tend to think that their romantic partner is responsible for satisfying their emotional needs and this can backfire.
Once you’ve identified your needs and put in place the necessary boundaries, the next step to create those happy emotions is to figure out how you’ll fulfill those needs. Some needs are better satisfied with the help of others and some are quite easy to satisfy yourself. For example, if you have the need to be touched, you might ask your friends and family for a big hug. You might also book a regular massage. It is very hard to get this need satisfied without someone else’s hands, but you can do self-massage or invest in a massage chair. I have a mini pro Thumper but still find it is nicer if your partner operates it for you!
If you have the need to be appreciated, you might ask five of your most appreciative friends or family members to send you an email or a card telling you what they appreciate most about you and your relationship. I ask my clients to ask five people to do one thing a week for eight weeks. This usually does the trick and you’ll become so emotionally fulfilled that your needs may seem to disappear completely. In effect, by asking very specifically and directly you are “training” your nearest and dearest how to satisfy your needs. Most people feel deeply honored to be asked. Some, however, may not have the emotional capacity to do what you ask. Don’t worry about that, just move on to the next person. This simple exercise is not easy. But once you get over the initial reluctance to ask, you’ll soon wonder why you were so afraid to do so in the first place.
The reason our needs remain unsatisfied is that we often feel funny about asking others to fulfill them or we may not be consciously aware of what you really need. This is why the Emotional Index Quiz can help you get started on your way to your own happy place filled with happy emotions!
To learn more about your personal and emotional needs you can read my book, The Secret Laws of Attraction: The Effortless Way to Get the Relationship You Want.
Or, take the online Emotional Intelligence course.