Living an emotionally healthy life is incredibly freeing. Yet it is very difficult to do because we all grow up learning unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy emotions. Think of it like pieces of armor that we put on growing up, defense mechanisms, ways of handling conflict, how to treat other people, what we think about ourselves, others and God.
In order to get healthy here are a six guideposts that can help us all get healthier emotionally and live with freedom and joy. Many of these guideposts come from researcher, author and speaker Brene’ Brown.
- Cultivate authenticity and let go of what other people think – Authenticity is a choice and must be practiced every day. It’s letting ourselves been seen for who we really are and also setting healthy boundaries in our lives. It’s being able to say no in a kind way yet stay firm when pressured. It’s choosing to have a hard conversation instead of stuffing it and letting resentment fill us up. It’s paying attention to what we are feeling and why and dealing with the truth. It’s speaking up instead of holding it in. It’s taking our mask off and being our true self, imperfections and all.
- Cultivate self-compassion and let go of perfectionism – Perfectionism leads to frustration, anger and a host of other unhealthy emotions. It also leads to negative self-talk and keeps you from moving forward in relationships and projects. It can feed fear and keep us paralyzed. To let go of perfectionism we need to be able to practice self-compassion or being kind to ourselves. It’s allowing ourselves to deeply feel what we are currently going through and understanding that we are not alone in our struggles. Others have gone through similar things and survived. We must be able to love ourselves before we can love others. It’s giving ourselves a break from having to be perfect and always doing the right thing.
- Cultivate a resilient spirit and let go of numbing behaviors – This involves knowing who we are and how we are wired. It is the self-awareness to know what our numbing behaviors are and a willingness to get help to avoid going there. It’s understanding our purpose in life and God’s plan for our lives. When we grow spiritually it strengthens our spirit and allows us to bounce back much faster when troubles come. It’s having a healthy outlet for venting frustrations and pain. Allowing people close to us to know us and be vulnerable with them about what is happening. numbing behaviors include things like spending hours on Facebook or social media, watching TV, video games, working. It can be drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking or watching porn. It can also be focusing on our phone and not being fully present with the people around us.
- Cultivate gratitude & joy and let go of scarcity & fear – It’s not just having an attitude of gratitude, but actually practicing gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal and actually telling others how grateful we are for them and the things we are grateful for. It’s living with an eternal perspective and knowing we have a higher purpose in life. It’s noticing the little things in life and being able to live in the moment and just be. It is being comfortable in our own skin and not trying to be somebody we are not. It’s having an abundance mentality, and not a scarcity mentality. It’s being generous with our time, our money and possessions and our abilities by helping and serving others.
- Cultivate intuition and trusting faith and let go of the need for certainty – Certainty is not real but uncertainty is. Our intuition comes from the experiences we have had in life. To cultivate intuition we need to think about and learn from our experiences. It’s also important to grow in our faith and keep searching for answers to life’s questions. Yet it’s also being OK with not having all the answers. Many people would rather be miserable and certain than emotionally healthy and uncertain. One way to cultivate intuition and trusting faith to create time for silence and solitude. Building time into our schedules to connect with God, feed our soul and nourish our minds.
- Cultivate creativity and let go of comparison – Every human being is creative, some people practice using it more than others. Unused creativity turns into unhealthy emotions like anger, judgement, rage and depression. When we start comparing ourselves to others our creativity goes down because of fear. Often because of something someone said or did to us as a child we avoid being creative because we fear not being good enough. When children get to be in the 4th and 5th grade their level of creativity goes way down because that is when their art begins to get graded and compared to others. To cultivate creativity we need to start doing something we gave up or thought we were no good at. Start drawing, painting, sculpting, writing, taking pictures, making videos. Finding our creative side and exercising it will bring joy, freedom and energy into our lives. Do something creative today.
Start pursuing an emotionally healthy life by cultivating the good and letting go of the bad.