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Have you packed your Emotional Disaster Kit?

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I sometimes run across the phrase “finding your inner strength.” There’s something I don’t like about it. The truth is, you never lost it in the first place. It’s there. You just have to be more aware that you have it.

Many of us have preparedness kits for our homes: water, canned foods, flashlights, blankets, etc. We want to be ready in case a disaster should occur. Being conscious of your internal strength is like having an emotional disaster kit at the ready should you ever face your own personal crisis. So let’s take a look at what’s in your kit to help you be better able to access the strength you already have:

1. Past experiences? Check!

Remember that I just said , “should you ever face your own personal crisis”?

C’mon. You’re human. I know you’ve already faced many personal catastrophes in your lifetime. And you’ve made it through. It may not have been tidy, pretty, or romantic, but somehow, you made it through.

Keep those memories of making it through close to the surface. If you did it once (and I know you’ve probably had to do it more than once), you can do it again.

Take out a piece of paper or your journal. Write at the top of the page I DID IT! Then describe the times that you have had to overcome adversity and how you did it. Keep these notes handy so you can keep the memories of your resiliency fresh.

2. Great personal qualities? Check!

On another piece of paper write at the top The Good Stuff About Me.

Now list all of the great qualities about yourself that you can think of. Maybe your list might look something like this:


Have integrity

Creative problem-solver


Able to ask for help



Not afraid to show or share my emotions

And that’s just the beginning. I’m sure there are many more and different qualities you can note about yourself.

If you have some trouble or find yourself thinking “yeah, but . . .” to anything on the list, it just means you’re not used to claiming your strength. Ask a close friend or loved one to help you name the qualities you may not see in yourself. Or do this activity together with each person making their own list. Then share and confirm the qualities you see in each other.

3. People to rely on? Check!

It might seem kind of odd that inner strength would include relying on other people. But knowing you have people in your corner generates a feeling of security which, in turn, increases self-confidence. Of course, the more confident you are, the stronger you are and, thus, more able to handle disasters as they come up.

So get out one more piece of paper, this one titled People In My Corner. List all of the people you know you can turn to in a big emotional disaster for emotional support. (There are probably others who you could also call for the little stuff in life. You might want to make a subset of these folks on your list.)

If you’re able to list two or more names – great! If not, you might think about how you can expand your list a bit more. Maybe it’s time to let people in a little closer to you than you have in the past.

Making these three lists will help you remember your inner strength (rather than find it.) Look at your lists at least once a month to be prepared!

Takeaway points: You have inner strength that’s always there; you don’t have to “find it.” However, it helps to bring the specifics of your inner strength preparedness kit to the surface so that you don’t have to fish around for it when needed. Three simple lists can help you be ready for any disaster!

What’s in your kit that isn’t mentioned here? Do you use these tools in your kit?

Photo courtesy of Global X.

I’m a therapist in Los Altos, Ca., and I’m happy to help you with any emotional disasters that arise. Call me at 650-529-9059 or email me for a free 30-minute consultation.


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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.