Emotional Availability

You might wonder how I come up with the different topics to write on my blog each week. I essentially look out for trends in my own life, in my social circle, in my family, or just online.

The concept of emotional availability is incredibly fascinating to me, as it essentially determines your capacity to handle other people’s emotions. This is typically seen in a romantic aspect, but can also apply to platonic friendships.

I’d like to think out loud today and talk about a few things that come to mind when I hear about emotional availability. Let’s discuss how our experiences shape who we are, how being aware of our own emotional availability plays a role in our approach to relationships, how the work we put into ourselves cascades into other people and why we should learn about our own love language.

Dalai Lama XIV Quote: “An open heart is an open mind.” (21 ...

Our experiences and who we are

To me, emotional availability is the capacity we have to sustain an emotional connection in a relationship. It’s essentially a combination of our willingness and ability to connect with the emotions of other people. This would essentially require continuous vulnerability and trust with the other person.

Let’s go down the psychotherapy train and talk about childhood. First thing’s first, I think our perceptions of love and what romance is all about typically stems from the early years of our life. It evolves as we watch our parents interact, our family member engage, what we see in movies , and from books that we’ve read. We carry these expectations with us as we enter relationships, which then gives us our own experience and realizations.

Lindsay Wagner Quote: “When we shift our perception, our ...

Moving forward to where we are now, I think our most recent experience of being in some form of romantic or platonic relationship deeply impacts our emotional availability status. A breakup that ended badly, a friend that betrayed us, or even complicated family dynamics, can make it difficult for us to approach people with vulnerability and trust.

These are not necessarily the only factors that affect how emotionally available we are. There are some people who are just in a phase in their life where they’re not prepared for a new relationship. They’re focusing on their academics/career, their families, or they just haven’t done enough work on themselves.

This can lead to us being emotionally ‘unavailable’, where we find it difficult to open ourselves up and let other people into our lives. So how do we move forward with these insights?

Self-awareness and our approach to relationships

I’m sure by now you would’ve noticed that the key input to understanding one’s emotional availability is to have some level of self-awareness. This can be achieved by continuously reflecting on the experiences that have deeply impacted our view on relationships.

The more effort we consciously put into understanding our own biases, assumptions and interpretations, the more likely we are to approach people less defensively. Not every situation is going to be the same. Not every relationship is going to turn out like the one you’ve experienced.

The world is incredibly diverse. The more we’re able to bring our most authentic selves to the table, and the more vulnerable we’re willing to be, the more we’ll be be able to love ourselves and those around us.

Learning our own love language

We each have our own unique love language. It’s precedent in our experiences and upbringing as I’ve already mentioned. The issue with everyone having a different love language is that it can often cause friction when they’re misaligned. If what makes me feel special makes you feel overwhelmed, it’s not necessarily effective to replicate.

The importance of this is that we want to try and learn our own love language so that we can articulate it well enough to others, to avoid being disappointed by our expectations. Like I said, what works for me might not work for you. This links back to the previous section because when we have an understanding of what works for us, we can then realize that we’d need to curate our approach of love to different people.

Hint: I’d love all of the above pls

When you try to make other people feel special or loved, don’t necessarily look at what you’d want for yourself. Look at how they typically approach the same thing and what has generally made them feel excited or appreciated.

I hope you’ve taken away some insights from the thoughts that I’ve shared today. Being aware of your own emotional availability will make it easier to set boundaries in future relationships. It will allow you to learn more about yourself and other people. When you think about it from a love language perspective, you’ll realize that everyone has their own set of conditions. All the best with the journey ahead! You got this.

Hold On

Are you also feeling really tired with everything that’s going on? We’ve reached that point in the year where everything just feels exhausting. I know those who are studying will feel this particularly relevant. It’s as if we’re meant to ignore the chaos in the world and carry on like everything is fine. The pandemic just doesn’t seem to be going away.

This is going to be more of a rant so that you know you’re not alone in how you feel. The past few months have been incredibly taxing for me, especially since I’m in my final year at UCT; virtually. I want to talk about what has kept me going and how to stay motivated moving forward.

Purpose

What has always grounded me was finding a sense of purpose. Looking at why I do the things that I do. I think now more than ever when it feels like every day is the same, we need to look deeper and find meaning in our situation.

Living with purpose is essentially being intentional in your daily activities. It’s inevitable that things will seem monotonous and boring after a while. We need to refresh those intentions daily to keep the fire within us burning.

Acceptance

I know it doesn’t make sense a lot of the time. I know it’s difficult to comprehend and understand. That’s okay, we need to learn to be kinder to ourselves. Being kind to others can often feel more natural than being kind to ourselves.

We need to start showing up for ourselves and work on acceptance. Don’t resist the sadness, the tiredness, the frustration, the impatience. Accept them and understand that they’re temporary.

Emotions are like waves, they come and go.

Remember not to identify with your feelings. For example, you are not sad. You are experiencing sadness. Making that mental shift will allow you to detach much more easily.

Service and Gratitude

Do more for others and you’ll feel immensely content. When you’re able to help others and act from a place of service, you will feel more connected and alive. We’ve been neurologically wired for just that.

Whenever you’re having a bad day, as odd as it sounds, find someone to help. It will help you find a sense of purpose amidst the chaos.

The more you give, the more you get.

Count your blessings. I say this over and over again because I truly want you to realize how important it is. Wake up every morning and focus on what you have. It will massively improve the quality of your life, even if the situation itself remains the same.

Habits

I’ve talked extensively about how to form habits in my previous post. This has helped me form structure in my day. Forming a routine might sound monotonous, but it’s quite a paradox. When things are in place and you know what to do each day, it gives you the freedom to utilize your free time.

You won’t feel aimless or lost during the day. You’ll have a sense of direction. That is incredibly important when we’re spending so much time at home.

Emotional Outlets

Find somewhere to release your thoughts and emotions. This can be in the form of venting to the people you trust or writing in a journal. Alternatively, you could even send voice notes to yourself just to keep track of what’s going on with you.

A tempting response that I often get from people is that they use exercise as their outlet. As incredible as exercise is for mental health, it doesn’t serve the same purpose as a journal for example.

Actively dealing with your thoughts instead of being distracted will play a massive role in your interactions with others, and more importantly with yourself.

I know it’s tough, I know you’re tired and I know you just want to give up. But that’s the easy option. You don’t grow when the conditions are ideal or when you’re comfortable. You’re exactly where you’re meant to be, to become the best version of yourself.

Always ask yourself: “What is this teaching me? How can I learn from this?”

The world will carry on with indifference. It’s quite humbling to realize how tiny we are in the grander scheme of things. Follow your nature and keep trying. Rest well and take breaks if you need to.

Hold on, don’t ever give up.

It’s okay…

I’d like to reiterate on the topic of toxic productivity that I discussed last week (you can click on the hyper-link to read the article). It’s a strange time for us all, it’s okay to feel the way you feel.

I’ll briefly talk about a few key components of emotional intelligence and how that’s relevant to us today. I’ll focus on why acceptance is key, how to ask the right questions and understanding how temporary this all is.

Acceptance

If you can master the art of acquiescence, you’ll truly find peace with all that happens in your life. Acceptance seems to work like a charm, yet it’s so difficult to attain.

One of the key aspects of self-awareness is learning to accept your emotions after you’ve acknowledged them. Learning to become present with your feelings and thoughts is a life-long process, but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Once you’ve learned how to accept a thought or feeling, it no longer holds any weight over you. It sounds incredibly simple, but it genuinely works. Some of you may have more serious circumstances, so it’s not necessarily an immediate remedy. But the concept itself still holds true. Learn to accept.

It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay if you’re scared. It’s okay if you’re a little upset. It’s okay if you’re uncomfortable. It’s okay if your schedule is a bit messed up. It’s okay if you’re uncertain.

Don’t judge yourself. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t think that this is the end. Our patience and resilience are truly being tested. Notice how your body reacts to those feelings and take in a few deep breaths.

Write it down. Accept it. Let it go.

We need to ask ourselves the right questions and gently work on our state of mind.

Questions

I’d like to offer you a few important questions again. Remember that questions are answers. If you can master the art of asking yourself the right questions, the answers will come finding you. That’s the power of your subconscious.

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What can I do about this feeling?
  • Why am I finding it difficult to deal with this?
  • Have I always felt this way?
  • Is this temporary or permanent? Will I always feel like this?
  • How have I previously overcome difficult emotions?
  • What am I grateful for right now?

There are so many more important questions to ask, these are but a handful. Think of questions for yourself, aspects that are critical to your well-being.

Your mind works really well when you’re not constantly occupied. If you ask a question before going to bed or before going for a short walk, you’ll be amazed at how the subconscious processing works. Another cool exercise would be to answer these questions in a journal.

“Writing is closer to thinking than speaking.”

Temporary

Another incredibly important component of understanding emotions is that they’re temporary. If you contemplate on that fact, it naturally brings peace to your train of thought.

We too are temporary. We’re not going to be here forever. That is something that really makes me feel humble. Things are going to end soon. I may not know when, but I know it’s inevitable.

Meditate on how short-lived natural beings truly are. Everything is cyclic; change being the only constant. There’s no point swimming against the tide, we just need to focus on where it’s heading.

“Change is inevitable; resistance is futile.”

Everyone is on their own journey. Don’t compare yourself to the rate of other people’s growth. Focus on your own growth. Focus on helping others to your best ability.

It’s okay if you’re not okay. It’s okay if things aren’t going according to plan. It’s okay if you’re lacking motivation. We’re in a cocoon. We’re exactly where we’re meant to be. This is part of the healing process. Embrace it.

Don’t quit. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give in to your impulses. Stay strong. Stay present. Stay grateful. We’ll get through this; stronger, smarter and more resilient than ever before.