While emotional fragility is something everyone occasionally struggles with, some people have it harder than others.
Resilience doesn’t come naturally to them.
Instead, they experience intense emotions and can become overwhelmed by what’s happening on the inside.
If you have someone like that in your life, your first impulse may be to judge them or worry that they’re not tough enough to survive the indignities of everyday life.
Instead, what if you cut them some slack and try to see things from their perspective?
Once you do, you’ll understand that showering them with tough love might not be the best approach.
Here are 6 things people who are emotionally fragile wish others knew about them.
If you want to be kinder to the soft-hearted person in your life, start here.
1) Being emotionally fragile isn’t a choice
Emotional fragility is a facet of human nature that transcends personal choice.
It’s an intrinsic part of an individual’s emotional makeup, shaped by various factors like life experiences and upbringing.
It’s a part of who they are, and acceptance and support from others can make a world of difference.
When interacting with someone emotionally fragile, it’s important to understand that it’s not like they woke up that day and decided they’re going to burst into tears in the middle of your meeting.
Shout after they experience a minor provocation.
Ghost you as you online chat because they can’t handle the discussion anymore.
As maddening as their reactions might be for you, they’re much more distressing for them.
Don’t make them feel worse than they already do.
2) Overthinking is difficult to overcome
Emotionally fragile individuals are more prone to overthinking, as their heightened emotional responses can trigger a cycle of rumination.
For example, a minor criticism or perceived rejection might lead to prolonged and intense contemplation of the event, amplifying its emotional impact.
As one Reddit user puts it, “I overthink every single small detail when it comes to communication, especially within personal relationships. I always feel like my feelings are hurt, or I think about things so much that I give myself unbearable anxiety. (…) I’m just so tired of feeling hurt and worked up over things that “normal” people don’t seem to be.”
While I like to fancy myself a resilient person, I’m a chronic overthinker, and I know exactly what they mean.
Let’s say I get a nice email about one of my articles from a reader. It’s mainly positive, but they include a small detail about a paragraph they didn’t like or didn’t resonate with them.
Am I happy that the article moved them to the point where they emailed me? Yes.
Do I focus on the positive and take the small negative detail in stride, grateful for the feedback? Umm, mostly.
I also obsess over that small detail to the point where I begin to believe that the entire article was horrible, and they hated it, and I am bad at my job, and I should stop putting words into sentences altogether.
My brain? Kind of a nuisance.
I’m actively working on this, yet there are times when overthinking gets the best of me, and my mood suffers tremendously.
It’s the same way for emotionally fragile people, only they also have to deal with intense emotions on top of that.
All in all, they don’t have it easy. What seems like no big deal to you might be an enormous deal to them.
That’s why it’s essential you listen.
Which brings me to the next point on the list.
3) A listening ear can go a long way
When you listen to an emotionally fragile person’s concerns, you create a safe space where they feel heard and understood.
This takes a huge burden off their shoulders.
Considering their point of view and acknowledging what they’re experiencing means they won’t have to explain themselves over and over again.
Plus, providing a listening ear or a shoulder to rely on comes with added benefits:
- It validates their emotions as real and important
- It fosters a sense of trust
- It makes them feel less isolated
- It encourages them to open up about what it’s like to be in their shoes
- It allows them to release pent-up emotions and move towards well-being
If you have an emotionally fragile person in your life, they’ll appreciate you making an effort.
4) Positive reinforcement matters
Individuals who have difficulty processing intense emotions may frequently seek reassurance or positive reinforcement when they experience them.
That’s because even if they’re on a journey of self-improvement, progress is slow.
Not only that, but the fragility frequently comes in waves.
You’re doing awesome for weeks or months, then experience a few days when you feel like you could crumble at the slightest touch.
When that happens, having someone who encourages you to get back on your feet is a game-changer.
If you notice that an emotionally fragile person is struggling, start by recognizing their efforts so far and praising the steps they’ve taken to cope with fierce emotions.
Then, remind them that you believe in them and are grateful to have them in your life.
Emotionally fragile people need to take responsibility for themselves.
Nonetheless, knowing that someone is invested in your journey only boosts your motivation.
5) Self-care is crucial
While researching this article, I noticed that a lot of people who describe themselves as emotionally fragile highlight the importance of self-care.
Engaging in self-care helps regulate emotions, reduces stress, boosts self-esteem, and allows you to check in with yourself and be aware of what you’re feeling.
If a loved one is in a bad place, help them build a schedule that prioritizes well-being.
Poor sleep, a bad diet, self-isolation – all make coping with intense emotions more challenging.
A few tips on how an emotionally fragile person can set themselves up for success:
- Have designated morning and evening routines (they provide a sense of predictability that can be comforting)
- Practice meditation or deep breathing exercises (can help manage intense emotions)
- Get sufficient and quality sleep
- Avoid over-commitment, as it can lead to emotional exhaustion
- Exercise regularly to keep stress under control
- Consume uplifting content and use positive affirmations to boost your mood
- Reach out to a mental health professional who can help you build resilience
Granted, self-care means something different for everyone.
Find out how your loved one prefers to cope and remind them to engage in those activities during especially tough times.
6) Emotional exhaustion is real
Emotional exhaustion is a real affliction, and emotionally fragile people are more likely to suffer from it due to the fact that they’re less resilient when encountering stressors.
Individuals experiencing it feel drained, physically and emotionally exhausted.
This exhaustion is not quickly relieved by rest and can persist despite adequate sleep and time off.
If you suspect someone you know is going through this, be patient.
Recovering takes time.
They might reach out less as they put themselves back on their feet. Or, they might ask for your help to navigate this grim period.
Whatever it is, respect their boundaries and offer support to the best of your abilities.
If you’re close, a good idea would be to assist with practical tasks to alleviate some of their responsibilities.
Doing chores, running errands, cooking them a meal.
When you’re exhausted, even the most basic activities seem unmanageable.
Knowing that you have someone in your corner is a godsend.
Emotionally fragile people already have a lot on their plate.
Don’t force them to deal with your judgment and frustration as well.
Remember that empathy and compassion have a profound impact on your relationship.
Accept them as they are, listen to their worries, and encourage them to develop coping mechanisms that allow them to handle emotions more productively.
Sometimes, the only thing you need to make a positive change is a little encouragement.