3 Ways to Know if You're Emotionally Healthy
- Debra Fileta truelovedates.com
- 2014 2 Sep
There was a time in my life where I wasn’t very healthy. Though my body was in its prime, and my physical health in tact, my emotional health was slowly unwinding, like a ball of yarn tumbling down an endless stairwell. I was stuck in a pit of negativity, fear, and hopelessness, with seemingly no way out.
It was shortly after the birth of my first child. There were so many great things happening in my life, yet in the midst of all of it, I was feeling overwhelmed, sleepless, and anxious- but most of all, I was feeling guilty. Guilty that I wasn’t enjoying this time like I wanted to be. Guilty that I wasn’t filled with joy. Guilty for feeling guilty. I was sinking in a pit of self-pity, with no room for gratitude.
Slowly, I started sinking into an unhealthy place. And everything in my life seemed to quickly follow. I am thankful for that time in my life, in that it taught me a lot about the importance of emotional health. I’m thankful for the people that surrounded me, the medication that was available to me, and for the presence of Jesus that constant and steady. But as I look around, I realize that often times as Christians, we forget to take care of our emotional worlds. Maybe it’s because we are so focused on others, that sometimes we neglect to focus in on ourselves.
As a professional counselor, I can’t tell you enough how important emotional health can be. We live in a society that tends to focus so much on the physical, without challenging believers to get healthy from the inside out. After going through that difficult time, emotional health is a challenge I’ve set for my personal life, but it’s one that I find truly makes a difference, as our emotional health (or lack thereof) tends to overflow into the lives of the people closest to us.
But what exactly does a healthy person look like? How does one know they’ve achieved this seemingly immeasurable goal? When it comes to emotional health, I find that there are a few important categories that help me keep track of my level of health.
Before any other warning sign in my life, I know that I am struggling the most when my thoughts start to change from positive to negative. Our internal dialogue is such an important piece to our emotional health. Researchers used to think that our feelings caused negative thinking, but the latest science has backed up the reality that what we think has the primary impact on how we feel and what we do from that point forward. Negative thoughts lead down a downward spiral, and everything else seems to follow suit.
Take inventory of your thoughts these days. Are you finding yourself more negative than positive? More discouraged than hopeful? More critical than uplifting? Are you able to look at the bright side, or is your mind flooded by the dark? Your thoughts are a powerful part of your emotional world. Be deliberate about thinking only that which is good.
One thing I’ve noticed is that feelings can’t always be trusted. They are a compass that can point us in the right direction, but they aren’t always an accurate roadmap. Feelings often tell us things that aren’t true, and leave us feeling stuck, alone, and living in fear.
What kind of feelings has your life been filled with lately? Have the feelings been negative or positive? Have you been able to navigate past what you feel and into what you know to be true, or have your negative feelings been leading the way? Do you find that more days than not, you are bombarded with feelings that cause hurt and pain?
Negative feelings are natural and normal, but when they are relentless, it’s a strong sign that your feelings may need a good check-up. Talk to a pastor, a mentor, a doctor, or a professional counselor if your negative feelings seem to be taking control. There is hope and healing in things like prayer, medication, therapy, support, and encouragement. Your feelings are sometimes the first sign that there is something deeper that needs to be treated. Take the time to invest in becoming healthy and whole, starting with this very important step.
An emotionally healthy person chooses behaviors that lift them up, rather than actions that tear them down. Take inventory of the habits, traits, patterns, and routines of your day. Are they things that are giving you life, or robbing you of life? Are there patterns that are used to numb and forget, or things that are helpful for healing and growth? Have you developed any addictions or harmful behaviors that need to be addressed and dealt with?
What you do with your time and and how you use your energy and resources, are all good indicators of your emotional health.
We can spend so much time focusing on our physical health, not realizing that our emotional health is the glue that holds it all together. May God give us the wisdom to address the things we can, and then trust him with all that we cannot. Here’s to healthy lives, and healthy relationships.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. She’s also the creator of the True Love Dates Blog. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
Publication date: September 2, 2014