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:
Emotional Fitness and Core Human Behaviors
Quotes on the Human Condition
PART ONE: EMOTIONAL FITNESS AND CORE HUMAN BEHAVIORS
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
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
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…
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…
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!
PART TWO: QUOTES ON THE HUMAN CONDITION
If you realized how beautiful you are,
you would fall at your own feet.
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.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.
We have art in order not to die of the truth.
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.
Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
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.
To recognize one's own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing and transcendence.
The most neglected fact in business is that we are all human.
Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.
Beware the ceaseless frenzy of always thinking we should be doing something else.
Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.
Although the wish for solitude can be a denial of dependence, a capacity for solitude may be its fullest acknowledgement.
The great lesson of 'Beauty and the Beast,' is that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.
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.
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.
Do you seek satisfaction? Then you must embrace frustration, for they are joined as sure as night follows day.
...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.
The future has an ancient heart.
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.
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.
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.
The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain.
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.
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!
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.
The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.
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.
Pain gets passed down through families until someone is ready to feel it.
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.
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.
For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
The creative adult is the child who survived.
-Ursula Le Guin
Only the person who somewhere feels safe can take risks.
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.
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.
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.
It isn't normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.
You cannot save people. You can only love them.
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.
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.
Better ever than never.
Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it.
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.
When you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Or say, “I hear you, and I’m here with you.”
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.
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.
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.
Sometimes the most empathic response is silence. Respectful, patient silence. When a person is thinking, let them think.
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.
Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.
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