Have you ever considered that being human involves 4 aspects… or 4 areas of health?
There’s a whole trilogy between the mind, body and spirit, and we can appreciate that mental health, physical health and even spiritual health are 3 things that are critical to wellbeing – and we may focus more or less on specific areas… not everyone who is a fit and healthy body has a fit and healthy mind and not everyone who has a fit and healthy mind has a fit and healthy body… the 4th one I would like to introduce today, is emotional health… our emotions can in fact affect our mental state and our physical state… so emotional health is so important. Spiritual health is probably the least clearly defined and spoken about in modern day times, but if you consider our ancestors, whether they were tribal people with spirit guides or small village church goers, it is definitely an area of the human condition where a need exists for health.
Today I’m going to speak specifically about emotional health. You may have heard the buzz word in the personal development fields and parenting fields called ‘Emotional Intelligence’ or ‘Emotional Quotient – EQ’ – I’m sure we have all met that super intelligent high IQ person who has no emotional clue, no social clue.
So what is emotional health?
Emotional health begins with ATTACHMENT. We all need attachment in order to live a healthy emotional life, and this begins early in childhood when we first make the critical bonds with our caregivers. The second part of emotional health is AUTONOMY – the ability to go off and feel safe being an individual… so there’s the two things, attachment and autonomy. That’s like the basis or the foundation of being a functioning human… from there we go into the actual experience of having emotional responses and learning how to process these emotions and respond to them, and communicate them.
Accepting and trusting our emotional responses and being able to experience the full range of emotions in the way they are designed to be experienced is the goal for emotional health.
Society has trained us that anger is bad, we are programmed with constant messages of shame and guilt, grief and loss are things we hide and face alone and very little is taught on how to be aware of, and process, sit with and experience the negative emotions. The pursuit of happiness, success, satisfaction, gratification and pleasure dominate the marketing space, rivalled only by the biggest sales driver in the world… fear.
Fear of feeling anything but happy. Fear of suffering. Fear of being rejected for our lack, our failures, our limitations. Fear of missing out – Yeah, you know it… FOMO… Fear of anything that causes us to feel … not great.
Yet… deep down we know we need to release these emotions… emotions are energy… energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred…
Whatever emotion we have trapped within us which has not been processed fully and released, will come through in our relationships, with the people we love the most… and these are often… our children.
You know it yourself… was your mother or father needing some emotional therapy? Did their inability to regulate their big emotions cause friction in the home and family? These things affect children, because we learn how to process emotion from our parents.
Often adults will poorly display anger, and then punish the child for displaying anger… now remember, attachment is the first need, so an angry parent threatens their primary need of attachment, and the people pleaser is born! The underlying belief is, I have to keep everyone happy, and my feelings are not important. How does that pan out for the child over a lifetime, pleasing others and suppressing emotion? It builds resentment, it affects the long term physical health, it affects relationships. From my many years of working with people, I can attest that most mental and physical illness, stems from the emotions. That’s why it is such a hugely important aspect for us to work on.
It’s a bit like the chicken or the egg. People come to me with a weight issue, it’s so simple to lose weight – really! We just need to exercise more and eat less. So why do so many people find this easy equation so challenging? Are we not in complete control of ourselves? The answer is NO. Our unconscious RUNS. OUR. LIFE. This is the truth. So then, we just need to train our mind the think different things, get the mind right and the body will follow – well, that’s not so silly, but it isn’t the complete picture, because the emotions are the real key. If you are holding onto a whole lot of shame, guilt, grief, anger, resentment, envy – and you’re trying to lose weight – my advice would be, stop focusing on the weight, and start focusing HOLISTICALLY on the mind, the emotions, the soul – the body will have no alternative but to become aligned.