Emotions Matter: Caring For Your Mental Health

We feel to live just as much as we eat to live, yet can you imagine never learning anything at all about food, denying the existence of food, withholding food, resenting food, fighting or repressing food, thinking food is bad or unnecessary or only for girls?

There is a phenomenon happening in our society.  We are being given all kinds of messages about our emotions. We are being told that we should forgive those who’ve done us wrong, that if we’re grieving we should move it through it quickly and out the other side, that if we’re in emotional pain we should think positively. We are told that if we’re a good person, we shouldn’t feel angry and that if we’re a conscious or aware person, that we shouldn’t feel hate.  In essence, we are being told that there is something wrong with us.  That we’re not good enough.

None of this is true.

We were built / designed / created with an emotional system.  These emotions are our internal guidance system – they tell us everything that we need to know about ourselves, about our world, about what we think is important, about what needs to change.  They have the ability to guide our lives in amazingly beautiful ways.  But we don’t understand that.  We were never taught that.  Instead, we are taught to medicate them away, drink them away, drug them away.

Our tendency is to deny our emotions – to hide or to try to escape from our pain – because we’re not taught how to deal with emotions like grief, sorrow, loss, betrayal, anger and hate.  The key is in acknowledging and accepting those painful feelings.  We can’t cut them away or deny them or spin a positive story to make them go away, and we shouldn’t want to.  They are what it means to be human and to be alive. They are markers of a life where we have cared and loved.  They are powerful messengers that tell us who we are and what is important to us.  They are invaluable guideposts that show us how to shape the course of our lives.

Emotional Literacy is the ability to recognize, understand, appropriately express and effectively handle emotional states in ourselves and others.

Self-acknowledgement (acknowledging how we feel) is not a “selfish” act – it’s a necessary act, a basic human need.

Every emotion has value and purpose.

There is no such thing as a negative or “toxic” emotion. Every emotion is neutral by nature. It is what we DO with an emotion that determines whether its impact is positive or negative for us.

Anger is an excellent motivator.  You can use it to make healthy change in your life, or you can use it to commit a homicide. The choice is yours.  Every good and necessary revolution throughout human history was started by someone who was angry.  We’re enjoying the benefits of those revolutions today.  By contrast, we humans have committed any number of heinous acts in the name of love.

In order to effectively use the emotions of our beautiful internal guidance system, we need to stop labeling some of these emotions as good and some as bad.  We are all of them and we need all of them.  After all, a navigation system doesn’t work very well with a South but no North.

In our culture, we value our intellect but not our emotions.  To live and work with emotional intelligence, means to value the partnership between head and heart.

An analogy:  Look down at your two legs right now.  Think of your right leg as “good” and your left leg as “bad” or “toxic”. Imagine cutting off your left leg completely, then imagine observing how well you can walk and navigate through life without it.  It’s difficult, painful, cumbersome, awkward, imbalanced.  In this scenario, your right leg is your intellect, and your left leg is your emotions.  We need to value both of our legs equally for what they offer us and for how they work, ideally, in tandem with one another.  We need to do the same for our heads and our hearts.

Some helpful practices for wise emotional self-care:

Mindfulness & The Power of Observation – Observing our inner world without judgment and without the need to alter or change it is paramount.

Free Flow – One of the best things that we can do for ourselves and our loved ones and our planet is to allow ourselves the “free flow” of emotions within us – to reconnect to that vital part of us – and to dedicate some time and effort to identifying and understanding what those feelings are telling us about ourselves.  What are they saying to us about our lives, our priorities, our purpose, our abilities, our work, our families, our bodies? Don’t Free Flow while you’re driving or at the grocery store! Set aside a few minutes of quiet time in your day to allow your flow of feeling.
Allowing your Free Flow mindfully (observing without judgment) is always the best position.

OAR – Observe – Accept – Reflect (without judgment) – A useful acronym for our emotions.  We need to observe them in order to identify them.  We need to accept them in order to use them (acceptance does not mean agreement – those are two different things).  Finally, we need to reflect upon where they came from and why.  Some of our emotions are generated by habitual thought patterns based in falsehoods or societal programming, and if we make life decisions based on those, it can be problematic.  Instead, our life decisions need to come from an understanding of where the emotion came from and why. Once we allow and identify our emotions, and learn to reflect upon them, then we can learn how to effectively manage them.

Thought Management – Our thoughts contribute to our emotional states & vice versa.

Address any Physical Causes – Things like a magnesium deficiency, vit D deficiency, B12 deficiency, thyroid disease, leaky gut, bacteria or parasites can unnecessarily heighten anxious or depressive states, so addressing these is an important part of emotional self-care too.

This post was originally published at https://wisdomhouselearning.com/.

This is a guest post. Click here for more information on submitting content to the blog.

Heidi Light
Heidi Light

Heidi Light is an Author, Blogger, Counsellor, Speaker, Leader of a social movement called The REAL Revolution, and Creator of Wisdom House - a blog, resource centre and community portal. Her websites are: www.heidilight.com, www.getrealforrealchange.com, www.wisdomhouselearning.com.

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