Why Bother With Emotional Wellness?
Our mental wellness includes taking care of all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environmental, interpersonal and occupational structures. We are complex creatures and when all of our systems work in unison with one one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are not integrated and instead run incongruent to one another, chaos reigns.
Though each of these areas of our mental wellness work together, I decided to break them apart in order to explain each one individually over the course of the next eight blogs. I know this is the better thing to do than to just dump this big idea of mental wellness into the lap of my audience and then leave the load and move on!
Getting to Know Ourselves
The easiest way to “test” if we are flourishing in the area of healthy emotions is to ask, “How satisfied, joyous or purposeful do I feel most of the time?” When we begin to take note of our feelings— grumpy, growly, snarky or snippy, then we can begin to make changes. Until then, we will most likely just continue to blame our mom, or someone else for how horrible, awful and no good we feel.
I did not grow up in an emotionally healthy or emotionally intelligent household. Discussing how I felt about something was never an issue because no one ever invited me to discuss how I felt. Instead, I learned how to survive by avoiding others when they were angry and stuffing any unacceptable feelings. But emotions are not something we can push down before they begin to push back in some way. Over the long haul, my buried emotions turned into high levels of anxiety and avoiding others because they were angry loaded me down with fear.
But change began when I started listening to how I felt. Instead of ignoring the churning and burning inside my gut or the thoughts racing through my brain, I started to ask myself some questions. What made me feel edgy? Was it legitimate? Was I really in danger? With time and lots of patience, I became more aware of my patterns, of the ebb and flow of my feelings and just how many different emotions I could experience on any given day. My emotions have something to tell me and listening to them is the best way to become acquainted with them.
But being emotionally well isn’t just about knowing myself better, it also makes me more savvy about the feelings of others. And being savvy about the feelings of others allows me to show them empathy.
So why bother with emotional wellness? Our emotions are part of who we are. The better we listen to what they have to tell us will only make us emotionally intelligent, and dispel the dangers that go along with being emotionally unintelligent.