I’m in Phoenix participating in a Chopra Retreat this week. Yesterday during our yoga session, we were invited to have a full-on tantrum to release pent-up emotions. We lay on our backs with our feet flat on the floor and stomped, flailed and screamed to our hearts’ content. I felt emotions well inside of me for all the plans that failed and all the losses I’ve sustained. I heard people in our yoga circle sobbing. There were cries and sniffles. When it was all over, when the last hug was shared and the last tissue passed, we all agreed that the experience was cathartic. I am with a group of people who want to get healthier emotionally and physically. It makes me wonder, why do some people choose to heal and grow, and others never do?
In last week’s blog, Do You Know a Narcissist? I talked about the toxic characteristics of this personality type. While there are conflicting opinions on the causes of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) it is clear that a healthy emotional makeup, just like a healthy body, requires some maintenance. And just like with a healthy body, you can’t look at someone and tell if they are emotionally well. That smile you see may be masking deep trauma or feelings of loneliness. That perfect physique may have been sculpted by a surgeon or overrun by tumors. We are inundated with ways to change our physical appearance and improve our physical health, while emotional well-being historically takes a backseat.
There are many barriers to achieving and maintaining tip-top emotional health:
- Stigma – Conversations about mental health are often viewed through a different lens than conversations about physical health. Because of lack of education and societal understanding, many people are embarrassed to discuss difficulties or seek help. Mental health awareness is growing, but we have a long way to go as a nation to truly embrace emotional wellness.
- Glorification of Toxic Behavior – In a capitalist economy ruthlessness is often rewarded. Behaviors like lying, cheating, bullying and stealing may be the traits that catapult your career. Perhaps you believe that “the means justifies the end.” Once the end is achieved, people may forget or dismiss how you got there, rewarding you with a combination of fear and respect. We’ve all heard the saying, “Nice guys finish last.” Any behavior that is rewarded will propagate.
- Resistance to Change – Emotional health requires ongoing self-awareness and reflection. This acknowledgment of and circling back to both negative and positive characteristics in ourselves with the desire to make adjustments requires and openness to personal evolution. Our bodies and minds will change over time whether we want them to or not. Actively cultivating our personal emotional journey requires us to embrace new information, new awareness and new experiences.
- Emotional Laziness – Like anything worth having, a good healthy relationship with your own emotions requires a commitment of time and energy. Whether you read self-help books, listen to encouraging podcasts, journal with prompts, practice meditation or work with a counselor, there is work to be done if you want to be your healthiest self.
- Lack of Access – We live in an amazing time where a plethora of information is available on just about any topic. While most everyone has access to the internet and libraries, you might need healthcare support from trained psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors. Many of us with good healthcare have copays over $100 to meet with a therapist, and simply cannot afford it. For those of us with minimum insurance coverage or none at all, the access is even more difficult. Wellness retreats, spas and other alternative mental health offerings can be pricey.
So, what can you do if you want to make a commitment to improving your emotional health? How can you decrease the negative emotions that hamper your ability to experience consistent joy and self-love?
Here are my recommendations:
- Schedule Yourself – Set aside at least 30 minutes on your calendar every day for emotional self-care. One hour is ideal if you can manage it, but even 15 minutes is a great start. If you keep a calendar, make sure to block off the time each day instead of making it a mental note that can easily be pushed aside. It’s important to physically schedule time for yourself. You might want to use the time to work through your favorite self-help books like Thinking Outside the Chrysalis, 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness or any other wonderful resource. This could also be time for journaling with helpful prompts.
- Learn to Meditate – There are plenty of techniques to choose from. Meditation creates space between emotional triggers and responses by creating awareness of the space between your thoughts. Try a simple meditation by finding a comfortable space where you can sit with a straight spine. Close your eyes to your comfort level and mentally follow your breath as it enters and leaves the body at the tip of your nostrils. When thoughts arise, just redirect your mind back to the breath with love and compassion as if it were a child. As each thought arises, continue to redirect yourself to the breath. Start with 5 minutes and then work your way up to 15 or even 30 minutes. Aside from the incredible mental health benefits, meditation has a profound impact on physical health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and promoting longevity.
- Be Your Own Bestie – Talk to and about yourself as if you were talking about your BFF or someone else that you love. We are often our own worse critics. Notice your own beauty and positive qualities. Take yourself on dates. Give yourself permission to do the things you enjoy. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with your bestie-self! And, don’t forget to celebrate your successes along the way. Often we focus on our endless to-do list, instead of honoring our accomplishments along the way.
- Invest In Yourself – We all spend money on the things that are important to us, whether it’s food, clothing, cars, concerts or wellness. Create an emotional wellness budget for the modalities that appeal to you, whether it’s coaching, therapy, self-help books or wellness retreats. If you can’t find the money, try quitting a bad habit and saving the money for a healthy gift to yourself.
A life of healing and personal evolution is a juicier life, ripe with deep emotions, awakenings and new experiences. It holds the sweetness of gratitude and wonder and is absolutely available to you. I hope you reach out and pick it right off the vine.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is of one my favorite fruits from Jacek Dylag on Unsplash. If you want to move forward in your own personal journey, make sure to download the FREE Mind-Blowing Happiness Guide to Self-Care at the link below. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set up some time to chat. I would love to help you along on your journey!