The Best of Dr. Emily Anhalt: Big Ideas From Her Last 3,000 Tweets

Dear Everybody,

Dr. Emily Anhalt is an Emotional Fitness expert living at the intersection of psychology and business. She empowers entrepreneurs, leaders, and employees to move toward empathy, productivity, and self-awareness. 

I organized and distilled her last 3,000 tweets into a summary of her big ideas, in two parts:

  1. Emotional Fitness and Core Human Behaviors

  2. Quotes on the Human Condition


First things first, learn to feel…

  • Your emotions are healthy and important

  • Feel them, even the messy ones

  • Try not to stuff them down into your body

  • You’re allowed to have complicated feelings about simple things

  • Create the space for every feeling and let yourself feel the full range, not just a slice

Face your tough experiences and dig into them…

  • Unearth what you’ve turned away from

  • Discover what you need to talk about and gain conviction in your resilience and strength

  • It’s next to impossible to change things without facing them

What we do to avoid suffering is often worse than the suffering itself…

  • Suffering is normal, and normal people suffer

  • Healthy pain isn’t a pathology; normal suffering isn’t a stigma

  • Sometimes we thrive; other times all we can do is barely make it through

  • We just need to accept our emotions will ebb and flow over time

Remind yourself, we all work hard NOT to know things…

  • We hide ourselves from ourselves better than we hide ourselves from others

  • We store our experiences and emotions in places we have no conscious access to

Build the safety, ability, and strength to know things you’ve worked hard not to know…

  • In other words, walk the path to self-awareness

  • What you want is waiting along the way

  • Switch from "how is this happening to me?" to "how am I happening to this?"

  • Recognize you still don’t know yourself, but the more you do, the more you can be yourself

Get comfortable being uncomfortable…

  • Not all pain comes to harm you

  • Know the only way out is through

  • Your job is to understand and manage your own discomfort

  • You already know what to do, you just need help understanding why you’re not doing it

  • Whatever you don’t feel through, you carry, and if you don’t feel, you’ll never heal

  • On the other side of discomfort is agency, acceptance, connection, and growth

  • Real self-growth is worth the trouble

Understand pain, trauma – and healing – are passed down from generation to generation

  • Give others more compassion than you were given

  • It puts you in touch with an alternate reality you never had

  • Everyone who comes after you will benefit

Turn your compassion inward…

  • Sometimes we hold on to mistakes we took a lot of time making

  • Talk back to your inner critic (without dismissing it)

  • Be careful how you talk to yourself (you’re listening)

  • Don’t be cruel (you wouldn’t be cruel to your best friend)

  • Name the things you love (and don’t take too long to name yourself)

  • Treat yourself the way you’d like to be treated (and then ask others what they need from you)

  • Be at ease if some people don’t like you (most people don’t even like themselves)

Grieve small losses in your everyday life…

  • Growth and grief are intertwined

  • With every choice we make, we must mourn the loss of all we didn't choose

  • Honor that process for even the smallest day-to-day losses

  • Grieving small losses prevents big pain

  • Work through your frustrations as they happen

  • Grieve the time you spent in pain to allow yourself to move forward into something better

Don’t suffer future pain…

  • We sometimes believe the worrying itself keeps bad things from happening

  • We worry if we stop worrying, our greatest fears will come true

  • Instead of preoccupying yourself about something that might happen, master the art of optimistic rationalism

Keep going…

  • If you’re not asking for support, ask for it

  • If you’re not forgiving yourself, forgive yourself

  • If you’re not thanking other people, thank them

  • Epiphanies are almost always a result of many seemingly unproductive hours of work

  • Be proud of yourself for the work you’ve done to heal

See the full person in yourself and others…

  • Goodness and badness exist within each of us

  • Cancel culture is an inability to hold the two together at the same time

  • The horrible thing a person said is not the entirety of who they are

  • Weaponized shame does not tend to help people deal with the “bad” parts of themselves

  • We must educate instead of shame ourselves

  • We must cultivate the ability to exist in the grey

  • We must learn not to think in extremes

Set boundaries…

  • Figure out what your needs are and communicate them

  • Boundaries free up space for productive pursuits, even if you’re still hurt

  • Put some emotional distance between you and the people in your life who need to do their own work before they can treat you the way you deserve to be treated

  • You don’t have to rebuild a relationship with everyone you have forgiven

To understand yourself and others, listen…

  • Listen quietly

  • Listen intently

  • Listen empathetically

  • Talk less, be present more, and allow for pauses…

  • Don’t give advice

  • Don’t feel compelled to fix

  • And don’t think of what to say next

Ask deepening questions and add empathy to your judgments…

  • Show you’re present with nods not words

  • Practice getting comfortable with silence, and then become fluent in the language of silence

  • Every time you feel disdain for someone else, you reveal an unhealed part of yourself

  • Allow yourself to actually feel what someone else is feeling in order to understand them

  • True empathy can be uncomfortable and difficult, but if you can face the discomfort of it, you’ll learn much about yourself from your judgements of other people

Help people move toward who they want to be…

  • Assume best intentions

  • Meet others where they are

  • Approach your interactions with openness

  • Don’t ask. Just help. Think of something that would be helpful, and then do it

  • As you elevate others, others will carry you up

Improve your conversations…

  • When you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything.

  • When you don’t know how to support someone, say, “How can I support you?”

  • When you don’t know how someone is feeling, say, “How are you feeling about this?”

  • When you don’t’ know what someone needs, say, “Are you looking for solutions or comfort?”

  • When you don’t know how to voice a frustration without implying fault, ask, “Can I complain without blame?”

Improve your conversations…

  • Don’t say, “You never”

  • Don’t say, “You always”

  • Don’t say, “This is your fault”

  • Don’t say, “It’s fine (if it’s not)”

  • Don’t say, “That’s your problem”

  • Don’t say, “You’re being too sensitive”

  • Don’t say, “I told you this would happen”

Improve your conversations…

  • Say, “I hear you, and I’m here with you.”

  • Say, “Can you say more about that?”

  • Say, “What I think I’m hearing is...”

  • Say, “Does that resonate with you?”

  • Say, “I imagine you might be feeling...”

  • Make space for more…

  • Then say, “You’re not alone in this,” or “We’re in this together,” or “I’d like some time to reflect on that,” or “I’d like to acknowledge my part in this issue.”

Practice the lost art of accepting a compliment…

  • Don’t deny it

  • Don’t minimize it

  • Don’t throw it right back

  • Instead, feel it

  • Let it settle

  • And be grateful for it

In sum, get some…

  • Emotional fitness

  • Self-awareness

  • Boundaries

  • And therapy!

Therapy works (and it’s not a court of law)…

  • It’s a time to process

  • It’s a space to be heard

  • It’s an opportunity to create new tracks in the snow

  • It lets you try on thoughts and feelings

  • It lets you decide whether they’re right

  • It lets you completely change your mind

Remember: holy shit, you’re alive!

  • Take a breath, open a window, and move around

  • Be grateful, be present, and thank someone who’s helped you

  • Enjoy your day, you don’t have an unlimited number left!


If you realized how beautiful you are, 

you would fall at your own feet.

-Byron Katie

If the unexamined life is not worth living, is the unlived life worth examining? 

- Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

Adulthood, for many people, has become a long hangover created by childhood.

-Adam Phillips

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.

-Walt Whitman

We have art in order not to die of the truth.

-Friedrich Nietzsche

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.


The great irony inherent in our efforts to make love safer is that those efforts always make it more dangerous.

-Stephen Mitchell

Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.

-Maria Popova

It is the role of the artist to make the revolution irresistible.

-Toni Cade Cambarayou

If the only prayer you say throughout your life is "Thank You," then that will be enough.

-Elie Wiesel

To recognize one's own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.

-Eckhart Tolle

The most neglected fact in business is that we are all human.

-Chip Conley

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.


Beware the ceaseless frenzy of always thinking we should be doing something else.

-William James

Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.

-Atticus Finch 

Although the wish for solitude can be a denial of dependence, a capacity for solitude may be its fullest acknowledgement.

-Adam Phillips 

The great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast,' is that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.

- Chesterton

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting...

...You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

-Mary Oliver

Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.


No phenomenon contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue. 


Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.

-Alain de Botton

When you can’t look on the bright side I will sit with you in the dark.

-Alice in Wonderland 

Psychology is such a complicated chapter of human knowledge that those who deal with it should have some philosophical preparation.

-Carl Jung

Do you seek satisfaction? Then you must embrace frustration, for they are joined as sure as night follows day.

-James Woodward

...but the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?


I happen to believe that America is dying of loneliness, that we, as a people, have bought into the false dream of convenience and turned away from a deep engagement with our internal lives.

-Steve Almond

The future has an ancient heart.

-Carlo Levi 

And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation.

-Albert Einstein

One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.


Well, everyone can master grief. Except he that has it.


All conspiracy theories are based on the wishful fantasy that humans are hugely competent and can keep secrets and someone is actually in charge.

-Gilbert Liz

The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.

- African Proverb

Our task as a person is to be defeated by ever larger things.


If I had a nickel for every time an empiricist confirmed something Freudian without giving the devil his due...I’d still be massively in debt but you know there would be more spending money.

-Dr. David Gatta

My mind is a bad neighborhood I try not to go into alone.

-Anne Lamott 

The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.

-Gabor Maté

You don’t think in depression that you’ve put on a gray veil and are seeing the world through the haze of a bad mood. You think that the veil has been taken away, the veil of happiness, and that now you’re seeing truly.

-Andrew Solomon

We wouldn't ask why a rose that grew from concrete had damaged petals. We would celebrate its tenacity & love its will to reach the sun. Well, we are the roses - this is the concrete - and these are my damaged petals. Don't ask me why, ask me how!

-Tupac Shakur

Anyone can become angry - that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, this is not easy.


There are situations in which it is more dangerous to keep your balance than to lose it.

-Adam Phillips

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.

-Alfred Adler

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer.

-Jim Carrey

Pain gets passed down through families until someone is ready to feel it.

-Steph Wagner

The basic thing about therapy is that people finally realize that they’ve been talking nonsense at full volume for years.


If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.

-Viktor E. Frankl

If a psychotherapist is lifeless or their technique too technical, their efforts to help may be worthless. Therapy, in this case, is not a relationship but a poor excuse for scientific experimentation. The mechanisms of some therapies undermine their therapeutic value.

-B. Edwards

It is the mothers, not the warriors, who create a people and guide their destiny.

-Luther Standing Bear

Love may seem to be enough when one does not possess it, but when one has, it will always be insufficient.


Therapy is a leap into the dark. An effort to reconsider the unacceptable in ourselves and in others.

-Adam Phillips

For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

-H.L. Mencken

The creative adult is the child who survived.

-Ursula Le Guin

Only the person who somewhere feels safe can take risks.

-Adam Phillips

How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.


No matter how open and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you as deeply as they've met themselves.


The child who does not feel embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.

-African Proverb

Our current mental-hygiene philosophy is that people ought to be happy, that unhappiness is a symptom of maladjustment. Such a value system might be responsible for the fact that the burden of unavoidable unhappiness is increased by unhappiness about being unhappy.

-Viktor Frankl

You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.

- Warsan Shire, Love in a Time of Refugees

Psychoanalysis is often about turning ghosts into ancestors, even for patients who haven’t lost loved ones to death.


Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.

-Eric Jong

It isn't normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.

-Abraham Maslow

You cannot save people. You can only love them.

-Anais Nin

Sibling relationships outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, and resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.

-Erica E Goode

Do not give in to your need to act helpfully. Remain flexible, fallible, and uncertain.

-Peter Buirski

If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.

-Alain de Botton 

Psychoanalysis is like music lessons; for five years you do not notice any progress and suddenly you can play the piano.

-Woody Allen

Better ever than never.

-Croatian proverb 

Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it.

-Stephi Wagner

When two people get together they make a relationship whether they like it or not.


I'm not a mess, I'm a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, 'for the same reason I laugh so often - because I'm paying attention.'

-Glennon Doyle Melton

People often think therapy is chiefly about removing something "bad" from, or gaining something "good" for, one's self, when it is much more about generating a certain quality of internal space in which the good & bad come together in a kind of family of the self.

-James Barnes

When you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Or say, “I hear you, and I’m here with you.”

-Abraham Maslow

Let me fall if I must fall. The one I will become will catch me.

-Baal Shem Tov

The trouble is, you think you have time.


The feeling that cannot find its expression in tears may cause other organs to weep.

-Marisa Peer

You will sometimes find that it is necessary to let things go simply for the reason that they are heavy.

-C. Joy Bell

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

-Earl Nightingale

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

-C.S. Lewis

Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.

-Marcel Proust

Sometimes the most empathic response is silence. Respectful, patient silence. When a person is thinking, let them think.

-J. Robertson

As psychoanalysts, we know that only when trauma is spoken about & truly heard, can it be healed. The current protests & unrest are communicating a denied pain stemming from centuries of racism which has never been properly listened to or addressed.

-W. Glover

Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.

-Maya Angelou

Thank you for reading!

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