Mastering Twenty Key Habits of Emotionally Resilient Advisors: Part One

By Dr. Jack Singer

Have you ever wondered how some advisors you know remain calm and emotionally stable despite adversity and challenges? Have you watched co-workers in the same challenging situations in which you find yourself, reacting with much less stress than you do? Have you concluded that these people are lucky because it’s in their DNA to be more resilient than you are, that you’ve always been this way and that there is nothing you can do to change it? Perhaps one of your parents is stress-prone and you’ve concluded that you’re hard-wired to be the same.

What humans have in common is that we are all hard-wired to be vigilant about life-threatening stressors. But, how we react to everyday potential stressors, such as those inherent in your career, is all under your control.

These are habits, and all habits can be changed. You just have to practice new responses to potential stressors.

Emotional resilience involves the ability to withstand and rapidly rebound from psychological stress. Indeed, advances in brain and behavioral sciences have proven that these skills can be learned.

The First Ten Habits of Emotionally Resilient Advisors

1. They Confront, Rather Than Avoid Fears

Fear of failure, worries about the DOL rulings, concerns about dealing with toxic clients…these are quite common with advisors/producers. Like almost all fears, these are learned, not hard-wired into your DNA, so they can all be un-learned. Facing your fears head-on, rather than denying or avoiding them, changes your brain chemistry, and the fear evaporates very quickly.

2. They Use Self-Discipline to Avoid Unhealthy Cravings and Habits

Many people under stress engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking, drinking, or substance abuse. This leads to unhealthy cravings and magnifies the stress. Using self-discipline can overcome these cravings and this works best when you begin right away, rather than after the craving is well-established. Recognize when you are rationalizing or kidding yourself when you allow the craving or habit to continue. The most common rationalization is “I’ll start this on Monday.”

3. They Respond Quickly to Prevent Emotional Uproar

When stress is allowed to magnify, the brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, both of which lead to stress-related disorders. Using calming exercises, such as deep muscle relaxation, meditation, and self-hypnosis can turn off the stress reaction, preventing it from getting out of control. You can google these calming techniques and quickly learn how to use them.

4. They Quickly Reframe Anxiety

Anxiety is not caused by the situation in which you find yourself. For example, it is not caused by the DOL ruling. Rather, it is caused by the inner dialogue (your self-talk) about the situation. If you decide that this ruling will put you out of business, your anxiety will spike. You can quickly learn to recognize anxiety producing self-talk, such as “what if” thinking and change it to healthy thoughts, such as “am I examining all possibilities, here?” and “I have overcome adversity before, and I can do it again!”

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5. They Overcome Anxiety

This sounds much easier said than done, but it can be done with a bit of consistency. If you journal your worries, share them with a confidant, and stop obsessing about situations over which you have no control, you will be on your way to resilience (see my book, The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” for 77 easy-to-learn methods of overcoming anxiety. You can order your copy of this valuable guide by clicking the link above or by contacting Dr. Jack directly at (949) 481-5660).

6. They Overcome Anger

To resist emotionally debilitating anger, first recognize the health risks of hanging onto anger (such as, hypertension, heart attack risk, stroke, and a whole host of illnesses that can be exacerbated by anger). This is the first step in letting go of anger. Research shows major health benefits of letting go of anger and forgiving others who stimulate it.

7. They Overcome Sadness

To resist emotionally debilitating depression, it’s important to recognize that your problems are temporary and you will get through them. It is also important to recognize that your problems do not indicate anything pervasive about you, such as the thought that because of this problem or issue, you are a chronic loser in many aspects of your life or career.

8. They Remain Optimistic, Despite the Challenges and Adversity They Face

Much recent research in both the behavioral sciences and in neuroscience shows that people who maintain positive expectations of outcomes, regardless of the present situation, overcome adversity and challenges very quickly and this also translates positively to their immune systems, thus preventing illnesses and diseases.

9. They Look for Opportunities to Laugh and Have Fun

One of the easiest ways to buffer yourself from stress is to make sure that you find every opportunity to laugh and have fun. Laughing releases powerful endorphins from the brain, that dramatically reduce stress. Watching funny movies and sitcoms, going to comedy shows, and reading funny magazines and books can help tremendously. Surround yourself with people who like to joke and have fun. It’s contagious.

10. They Have Compassion for Themselves

Have you found yourself offering compassionate advice to a good friend or relative after they make a mistake, for example, but you do not give yourself the same compassion? You can’t be perfect. No one is. Mistakes and errors in judgment happen. Forgive yourself and move on. This “Golden Rule” is “treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or relative, stuck in the same situation.”

In my next blog, I will share the second list of ten habits of emotionally resilient people.