Emotional Empowerment

“Remember that emotion is not a debatable phenomenon. It is an authentic reflection of our subjective experience, one that is best served by attending to it.”

Thompson, Curt. Anatomy of the Soul: Surprising Connections between Neuroscience and Spiritual Practices That Can Transform Your Life and Relationships. Carol Stream, IL: SaltRiver, 2010

While Photoshop and filters have been widely used to help people showcase their “best side,” hide perceived imperfections, and/or just deceive others, the ways we hide, disguise, and deny feelings have been around much longer and exist in many more forms. What we need is increased ability and comfort in experiencing and sharing feelings in healthy and helpful ways.

What is Emotional Health and Well-being?

A definition we like comes from WebMD:

It is your ability to cope with both positive and negative emotions, which includes your awareness of them.

Signs I’m Doing WellSigns I’m Not Doing That Well
Talking with others
Trusting others (sharing personal details)
Being able to relax
Generally feeling positive about self
Saying “no” without feeling guilty
Believing that you have people who care about you
Withdrawing from others
Low energy
Poor eating habits
Poor sleeping habits
Increasing conflict with others
Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, irritability
Neglecting personal care
Sources: University of New Hampshire, Emotional Wellness & WebMD, What to Know About Emotional Health

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, there are people who can help you. Please call or text 988 or go to 988lifeline.org where you can find more information and even chat with someone 24 hours a day.

Like it or not, juggling emotions has become a familiar experience for us. The events, plans, and experiences of our lives bring their own feelings, and we don’t get to just brush them aside, but we carry them with us. The stress of getting somewhere on time; the happiness of a child’s friendly greeting; the anger of a hurtful remark; the worry for a struggling loved one; the excitement of a celebration; the sadness of daily news – all overlap throughout the day, so we juggle, because it’s all simply too much to carry in our heart at once.

Health, Intelligence, Awareness, Oh My!

A great deal has been written and spoken about emotional well-being, and while some terminology differs, there is universal agreement that a healthy experience of emotions involves two important skills:

  1. Ability to experience a wide range of emotions (our own and others) without becoming overwhelmed. Feelings of happiness, fulfillment, gratitude and so forth are pleasant, and don’t cause us problems or discomfort. We need to feel them and appreciate them. We also need to be able to feel sad without feeling guilty or embarrassed about being sad. We can comfort someone else in their sadness without telling them to “get over it,” “move on,” “it’s not that bad,” etc.
  2. Ability to adequately work through our emotions appropriately. Do we have healthy ways of handling grief, sadness, anger, and the like? Do we have a short fuse? Do others become uncomfortable in our emotional states because they don’t know what to expect?

Emotional health, like physical health, can be developed and strengthened through practical workouts, and it can atrophy when left unattended. We all have moments that we would like to take back if we could. Examples might be words said in anger or grief; opportunities avoided in anxiety; responsibilities missed in excitement.

We also have moments of meaningful connections, joyful celebrations, and noteworthy accomplishments that we would like to experience more in our lives. We can learn some practical ways to help us have more of these wonderful moments and cut down on the moments that we tend to regret.

What Can Be Done?

In addition to the links we’ve previously shared, following are some resources that we find helpful:

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