In his article, “The Seven Habits Of Emotionally Healthy People” the author Guy Winch makes the point that most of us are more alert to threats to our physical well being as opposed to threats to our emotional well being. I couldn’t agree more. Many of us guard our physical health religiously and proactively by eating right, taking vitamins, exercising, taking our medications…ect ect. When we are physically injured we treat that injury, by setting the bone, or putting dressings on the scrape or abrasion. In our daily lives we try to adopt healthy habits in order to minimize physical issues.
What about in the realm of our emotional and psychological health? Are we generally “proactive” about safeguarding our emotional health? Do we consciously adopt lifestyle habits that enhance emotional health? What might these habits look like? Dr. Winch has identified seven “habits” that he argues are the best indicators of emotionally healthy and resilient person. I invite you to take an inventory and see how you do.
1 .Develop the habit of “failing” successfully.
You can do this by “debriefing” yourself after each life incident that did not meet expectation. Separate the factors that were in your control from the ones that were out of your control. Now you can reassess. Do you need to change expectations, or change your approach? Simply put, learn from your mistakes…move on
2. Derive Meaning from your Losses
There is obviously no way to guard against the fact of “loss” in our lives. It will happen. All the research suggests that those who thrive after a devastating loss do so only because they move toward finding meaning in the event. Think of Paul Klass who after the murder of his daughter Polly, discovered that his healing comes in helping parents find their lost children. As human beings we need to find meaning.
3. Disrupt the Cycle of ruminating over distressing events.. The incessant going over and over events that we do in order to understand “what happened” or “why” rarely brings any fresh insight. After a time, it is simply not helpful, and becomes harmful. Better to distract yourself with something else.
4 .Nurture Self Esteem. Flagging self-esteem means that the emotional immune system needs to be refueled. Practice “radical” self-love, acceptance, and compassion. Become your own best friend as you remind yourself of your best qualities
5. Boost Self Worth…. related to self-esteem, this means actively engaging in activities that showcase your best self. Whatever you are good at do it…doesn’t matter what it is. Be with people who constitute your “fan” base…. don’t be with people who don’t appreciate you…. at least any more than you have to.
6. Combat Loneliness…It is Dr. Winch’s contention that loneliness is an often under diagnosed problem in chronic depression. When we are isolated, the feelings of self worth diminish in a downward spiral. It is easy to convince ourselves that we are unloved and to stop reaching out to people for fear of rejection. Its important to not let this happen.
7. Forgive and absolve yourself and others. Forgiveness research is pointing more and more to the importance of forgiving others for what they have done to you, as well as apologizing for what you may have done. Of course it’s not always easy, and it’s important to keep in mind that forgiving is not tantamount to condoning the action. Related to forgiving is cultivating empathy for yourself and others.
So, that’s the list.
Looking at this myself I can identify that some days are better that others in terms of my good emotional habits. How about you?