There are 5 components that affect overall human wellness. These are Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional and Financial factors. Of these, Emotional Wellness be the most neglected one in my opinion. So, what does Emotional Wellness mean? There are many definitions from psychologists and other experts. But to me it’s all just fancy words for how you handle life’s ups and downs. And how you deal with your emotions as they arise.
Emotions and Feelings
Emotions and Feelings are responses to things happening around us in the world. Or to our thoughts about these events. Basically when the brain observes something, it starts cycling through information. This is in order to come up with the correct response needed for the situation. So, according to the information stored from experience or beliefs or experience etc. the brain creates a meaning to the event. Then a feeling about it or an emotion. Followed by action if necessary.
For example, say you are walking down the road. Up ahead you see a cyclist come around the corner heading toward you. Your brain recognizes the rider and remembers that he is not a very good rider. Last week he crashed into you!. Now you instantly feel afraid as you expect the same thing to happen again. So you jump out of the road. Then you remember how it felt last week when he hit you so now you get angry! Sometimes these emotions can remain long after the event has passed and we can become caught up in them. Being able to recognize this and how it affects you be the key to emotional wellness.
What is Emotional Wellness
So, Emotional Wellness means a few things. For one, it means living well and enjoying life. Despite the ups and downs that are part and parcel of daily life. Do not be afraid to experience your emotions. Do not dwell on the positive and suppress the negative. Know too, you are not defined by your emotions either.
Do not get attached or invested in your emotions. You can let them go! Also, emotional wellness does NOT mean being happy all the time. Rather, it means accepting what happens without getting invested in how you feel about them. Doesn’t mean you have to chase positive feelings and experiences. And dodge or suppress negative or bad feelings. Just accept what is happening and how you feel about it. And then let it go. This goes for both good and bad emotions and feelings.
Happiness and Serenity
As mentioned before, Emotional wellness does not mean you have to be happy all the time. That’s pretty much impossible. So if you make that your aim, you are setting yourself up for problems and failure. Chasing happiness constantly is not healthy. It often comes at the expense of others and could lead to addictive behavior and substance abuse. A better definition or goal to chase would be serenity. This is defined as a state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. Sounds to me like a goal synonymous with emotional wellness and even includes a happiness component. Discussion on the definitions of happiness are for another discussion.
How to Cope with Life
We see that the road to emotional wellness begins by looking to find serenity in life. This can be achieved despite what life has to throw at us. We must learn to experience and observe our emotions without judgment. Whether we think our emotions are good or bad does not matter. They are what they are and we move on. Many times we become emotional and react to situations that are not “real”. Rather, our brains make assumptions and send us off on a tangent. Emotional wellness comes from being able to recognize and adjust to these inputs.
Back to our example. Our brain makes assumptions based on past experiences. And creates a possible scenario which our walker acts on by jumping out of the cyclist’s way. Furthermore, he gets angry with the cyclist for something that happened last week (in the past). Or for something that might happen (future). Nothing happened now (in the present moment) but our walker’s day is spoiled as he is now angry. The cyclist is unaware of all this drama and rides on.
New scenario. If, our walker is on the path to emotional wellness this is how it might play out instead. He will still jump out of the way but now he will study himself. Why am I getting angry? Nothing has happened due to my quick action. Unskilled cyclist is riding on blissfully unaware. Am I going to remain angry and spoil my own day? Or am I going to pause, think about it and let it go? You decide.
Obviously, Emotional Wellness is not a simple matter. Once we are dealing with ourselves and our psyche and emotions, things become complex. Dealing with emotions is a simple plan but for complex people. We can’t help ourselves but to make it so. Introspection is something that does not come easy to us. Meditation practice is helpful but again it is up to the individual. Serenity as an end result in life is a great goal. But like any goal worth having it takes hard work. Getting to a place of serenity is a lifetime job and cannot be attained by short cuts. But, we can all strive toward it by taking the time to look at ourselves on a regular basis. Start slow and build the habits over time and you will be amazed at the results. Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up! Just do the best that you can and the results will come! Just start and take your time.
I can tell you that I myself am on this journey. And I have seen great changes in my outlook on life and my serenity. Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts. Or if you have questions, I will try to answer to the best of my ability.