We have all heard of wellness but is emotional wellness even on your radar? According to the University of California Riverside, emotional wellness means being aware of your thoughts and feelings, having a positive outlook, being able to express your feelings, seek emotional support, and prioritize. In the United States, the stigma around seeing a mental health professional is so great that it deters people from seeking support. The view point the public sees from someone seeing a therapist is that ‘they are broken and they need to be fixed’. Yet, we don’t judge someone who has a drainage problem and calls a professional plumber. Students at Universities are not judged because “they are stupid and need to be fixed?” Seeking professional support when we are lacking the knowledge isn’t really a big deal in any other area of life, except mental health. How would live be better if we viewed mental health as emotional wellness. Something we all need.
Not only has society made therapy a no-no for the average Joe, so have therapists in the profession. Which is an interesting thought because in the Social Work field all students are educated about the power and benefit of having a “Strength’s Based Perspective”, which teaches us to focus on individuals, families and communities strengths and resiliency? Yet, the entire system from Therapist to Insurance Providers base their system on a diagnosis, which ends up judging people by their inadequacies. Why doesn’t the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) have a diagnosis of “Individual Learning to Form Independent Relationships” instead of “Adjustment Disorder?” Even the diagnoses we use have a negative connotation. Not everyone is ‘broken’ and needs to be fixed. Why not acknowledge that we all have times in our lives when we need support and we should be impressed with someone who sees they need support and is brave enough to reach out for it?
We all know someone who has clear issues communicating or holding boundaries or feels overwhelmed or depressed. If they believe therapy is for “crazy people” they will never get help, support, or change their behavior. If they believe that needing someone to help them communicate better and understand their feelings for a little while is healthy and normal wouldn’t they be more apt to move forward? Sadly, we are not there yet. I have never heard anyone say, “Geez, I really need to sort out my feelings about my job and husband with a caring professional.” Instead we hear someone jokingly admit, “I am seeing a Shrink.”
I dream of the day when I am walking down the street and overhear a woman telling her mother, “I really want to deal with all these confusing emotions and thoughts I have that are affecting my relationships and making me feel so anxious. Do you know of a good emotional wellness professional that you think I would like?” I imagine that people would be more open and comfortable sharing their feelings which would make us all feel more accepted, less angry, and become better parents, better friends, better employees and live longer, happier lives!
If you are a person engaged in the process of emotional wellness, you are willing and able to:
- Arrive at personal choices and decisions based upon the synthesis of feelings, thoughts, philosophies, and behavior.
- Live and work independently while realizing the importance of seeking and appreciating the support and assistance of others.
- Form interdependent relationships with others based upon a foundation of mutual commitment, trust and respect.
- Take on challenges, take risks, and recognize conflict as being potentially healthy.
- Manage your life in personally rewarding ways, and taking responsibility for your actions.
The path to emotional wellness may involve:
- Awareness of thoughts and feelings
- Using a positive attitude
- Seeking support and expressing emotions in a suitable manner
- Setting priorities
- Accepting mistakes and learning from them
The path may also involve seeking out support from a mental health professional when needed and gathering information in order to make informed value decisions.
Are you engaged in the process of emotional wellness? Evaluate your own emotional wellness with this brief quiz.
- Am I able to maintain a balance of work, family, friends, and other obligations?
- Do I have ways to reduce stress in my life?
- Am I able to make decisions with a minimum of stress and worry?
- Am I able to set priorities?
These are all things that a wellness professional can help you with. I would be glad to discuss any struggles you are experiencing with you and get you started on a path to emotional wellness. All you have to do is contact me for a free, confidential consultation.