Developing emotional health takes time and dedication. It is not something that is an overnight success – but it is an essential aspect of living well.
As with most things in life, the reward corresponds to the effort put in. Because it takes time and dedication, the reward is substantial.
The first steps are to become aware of and then accept your role in changing behavior patterns that are not serving you well. This is in everyone’s own hands.
But as soon as someone accepts that they are free to choose how they respond to situations, their emotional health will start gaining strength.
Being emotionally strong means you will have learned not to give time or waste energy on negative emotions such as self-pity, excessive pride or envy.
In place of these you have room for the positive stuff in life – uplifting emotions such as hope, trust and love. You will tend to increasingly and automatically look for the positive.
You become someone who can embrace change rather than resent and fear it. You are comfortable in your ability to make choices that previously most likely would have left you procrastinating because you were full of anxiety.
Being emotionally strong means having the right tools in your emotional toolbox. You know how to use these tools – and as a result life in general gets progressively better.
Here are six major signs of strong emotional wellbeing:
1. You learn from your mistakes
Emotionally strong people may say the mantra: “There are no such things as bad things, only things to learn and grow from.”
We are all human – therefore we make mistakes. It’s totally acceptable.
By seeing mistakes as learning exercises we save ourselves from negative feelings of remorse, guilt and overwhelming anxiety. These all steal our energy.
In fact, people with the strongest emotional health, while perhaps not inviting bad things into their life, almost immediately know that everything can be learned from. This means they can continue growing.
Then, when something similar arises, they can deal with it in a much more efficient manner. It also means they are able to help other people who seek their guidance when a similar situation happens to them.
2. Recognizing when things are out of your control
A phrase often heard in recovery circles is: remember that you are powerless over other people, places and things.
But what we do always have control over is our attitude. That means we are in charge about how we react to someone or something.
It’s why the serenity prayer that’s said at many Twelve Steps meetings is so helpful to so many people. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Understanding that certain things are out of our control allows acceptance to come much more swiftly. This stops a self-imposed burden from pushing down on our shoulders.
It allows us to be emotionally healthier and stronger. This means that when things do come along that are in our control we have much more energy and clarity of mind to deal with them in the right way.
3. You have healthy boundaries
A big step in becoming emotionally strong is to have healthy boundaries. It means that you know yourself and have enough self-love and self-assuredness to set and keep these boundaries.
It is that you are comfortable enough to say no to certain requests that cross your boundary. It means you can stand up for yourself when someone is threatening your healthy boundary.
Having a healthy boundary stops someone from being a people-pleaser. It is all a part of being aware enough to choose positive patterns of behavior.
4. You live one day at a time and deal with problems as they happen
Avoiding problems that come along only allows the issues to fill up your head. By living each day at a time and staying in the now you will free your mind of yesterday’s issues and tomorrow’s worries.
It is pointless to regret the past as it won’t change a thing. Likewise, to worry about the future.
In fact worrying about the future only guarantees one thing: you will ruin the present moment due to the worrying.
Swiftly dealing with problems and putting them to bed keeps your mental and emotional filing cabinet in good order. It gives a sense of job done, and that gives priceless peace of mind.
Epictetus, one of the most influential people from the Stoic school of philosophy, said this much way back in the 3rd Century BC: “Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions.
“Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.”
5. You express gratitude
By focusing on abundance and what you have in life rather than lack and what you don’t have, you’re giving yourself emotional strength.
Daily gratitude lists – when you write down things for which you are grateful – will keep your focus on the positive things in life. These are often things taken for granted, but that we would miss if we didn’t have them.
You can include your health, your five senses, your family and friends, your home, food in the fridge, running water and even smaller things such as having a pair of trainers or a comfortable cushion that you love to put your head on to relax.
Expressing gratitude helps to keep you in the present moment too by focusing on things around you and in your life. Gratitude is very powerful towards having strong emotional health – and such as depression and anxiety cannot exist alongside gratitude.
6. Letting go of your resentments
By quickly being able to recognize a resentment and dealing with it you will boost your emotional strength. You remove the power a resentment usually holds over you – and so can swiftly get on with your life.
Strongly connected with this is forgiveness. People who have strong emotional health know that forgiveness, while also good for the world around, is amazingly positive for themselves.
Frequently, when we have a resentment against someone, that person cannot feel a thing, and yet we go on feeling terrible or consumed with anger as we think about them. We are hurting ourselves.
It’s been said to be the equivalent of drinking poison, and then waiting for the person we resent to die…
So not having – or swiftly letting go – of any resentments, and then forgiving gives an immense boost to our emotional health.
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