What is “emotional health?” As many definitions as people surely have, I think a good one begins with an over-all sense of psychological well being. I would add to that, “a dance between your relationship to self and relationship to others.” But it goes further than this as there are layers these two to be considered when contemplating the question, “Am I emotionally healthy?”
If you’re unsure of the answer to this question, a great place to start is by asking yourself the following question:
“Am I happy?”
If the answer is “no” then you might benefit from further exploring some of the common attributes of emotional health to see the areas to work on. Let’s examine some of them.
Your Relationship to Self
- Self-esteem: How do you view yourself? Are you a valuable human being? Are there unattended old wounds?
- Authenticity: Are you honest about your feelings or do you try to minimize or hide them?
- Managing Emotions: Do you allow distressing feelings to overtake you? Do you beat yourself up?
- Aging: What are you ideas about the aging process? Is it easily accepted or something to be fought tooth and nail against?
- Life Purpose: Do you feel satisfied with the way your career, role and goals? Does it have meaning for you? What are your passions?
- Physical Health: Do you have physical ailments? Do you practice self-care?
Your Relationship to Others
- View of others/the world: Do you generally believe people can be trusted and loyal. Is the world a safe place?
- Intimate partnerships: Have you had loving, healthy relationships? A pattern of relationship intability? Do you believe you deserve to give and receive love?
- Family: Are you free to give and receive love to your children, parents and extended family? Are there obstacles blocking these connections such as diffuse boundaries or old unhelpful patterns of relating?
- Friendships: Are you connected to supportive others, whether it be two people or dozens? If this is not important to you have you examined why? If your friendships have not been healthy, why is this so?
- Managing Emotions: Do you feelings drive you to behave in hurtful ways to others as in demonstrations of excessive anger?
- Life Balance: Do your scales tip over so far onto one side or the other that there are consequences for your relationships – or for yourself?
- Spirituality: Do you feel connected to something greater than you?
Being that “emotional health” is a multi-layered, complex and ultimately subjective, it’s impossible to label a person as emotionally healthy unless they deem this to be true themselves. Someone may look like they have it all together on the outside but be struggling with a number of unseen forces under the veneer of their smiles and apparent success at life.
The most important take home message is that most people have the ability to attain emotional health. The degree of work required will vary from person to person and certainly the ability to examine yourself in a self-reflective manner is helpful. The above lists are a step in the direction of self-examination.
If you’re not sure that you can navigate this road on your own, find a therapist in your area to help guide you.