In order to achieve emotional wellness, we must first establish a frame of reference from which we can visualize, evaluate and define our own sanity – and stop depending so heavily on others for that definition. You can call this your first step toward building emotional independence.
Isn’t emotional independence what we are all seeking?
According to Eckhart Tolle (1948 – ), “your conscious mind loves to create your world for you” and delivers to you the emotional world you imagine. Like your definition of emotional wellness, your happiness should always remain independent of the influence of others.
If your goal is to establish your own definition of emotional wellness and, by doing so, define your own idea of happiness, you might begin with developing an inner reference for who you truly are and reconcile yourself with that. You might become more emotionally and physically aware of yourself in the here and now. You might stop looking to the past to define who you are now; you might stop looking to the future for who you think you might be some day. Let yourself unfold every day, in the moment. Be in the present and find your meaning there. You might plan for how you wish (or hope to) behave; how you wish think, and how you wish to express emotion – based entirely on your own inner reference point for making those judgments.
Just imagine yourself traveling through your day, free of the opinions, assessments, judgments, criticisms and evaluations that tend to impact your state of mind – those impediments to happiness and emotional health we each encounter every day. Imagine that you can, instead of making yourself upset, thank people for seeing you and all of your obvious imperfections. “I am grateful that you’ve taken the time to see me.” Imagine that the here-and-now is more important than the past or the future.
This is all very possible.
I try not to seek out others to dictate the parameters of my emotional options – although I still occasionally do. I have slowly come to realize that too much outside opinion can create a dependence on others for my personal value and my emotional state. Outside opinion, I have found, can make emotional struggle even more of a struggle.
“Can you believe she did that?”
“What would you do?”
“I would be very angry. I would want to slap her.”
“Goodness, was it really that bad?”
“Yes, honey! It was the worst thing possible! You are being way too patient and tolerant of this.”
“So you think I should slap her?”
As I said, I am not always successful at achieving my emotional goals. To my credit, if I have accomplished anything, I have improved my skill at differentiating between rational and irrational thinking. I believe I have achieved an inner frame of reference that helps me tell the difference between which of my emotional encounters are manageable and which are unmanageable. I often dedicate myself to addressing my unmanageable emotions using constructive, well-thought-out and rational solutions. Although I sometimes fail at this ambition, I have at least come up with my own method for changing the things I can change and not trying to change the things I cannot change and for forgiving myself when I don’t succeed. My confidence in myself for drawing conclusions and relying on my own considered opinion for what I am willing to call managed emotion often results in my increased potential for emotional independence.
I am not completely independent of others, however.
Nor would I want to be.
I like people (except some of them) and I like to share my ideas, thoughts and opinions with them. I, alone, however, construct my own emotional environment, my own emotional life, and try, most often, for the emotional solution that will bring about or maintain my emotional and physical wellness.
My skills have certainly worked for me – most of the time.
You might begin your own journey toward emotional independence by concluding that your emotional wellness will depend on the definition of mental health you establish for yourself. Creating your own personal definition of happiness, as well, will go a long way to meeting that goal.
Have you thought of how you view happiness? Do you have a written definition? If you wrote one out, would it reveal something about how you will know when you are happy? Is your personal definition of happiness even possible?
Definitions of the word happiness that are linear, strict and perfect are often subject to failure. If I think that the ONLY time in my life I can be happy is when EVERYTHING is going perfectly, I will have a limited opportunity for happiness. I would be at the whim and will of a world that is likely to provide me with any number of challenges, most of which are quite unpredictable. Happiness, for me, must include the fact that misfortune is a fact of every-day life and must be met with grace.
I hold a definition of happiness that includes an expectation of some measure of misfortune and that misfortune is likely to surface at any given moment in time. Happiness means to me that even when misfortune occurs, I can still be happy in my life – if I try.
I strive every day to be in touch with my emotions and how I influence them through my thinking and rethinking. I have made a conscious commitment to take an active role in my own emotional life.
I often hear people say, “You think too much. You shouldn’t think so much. You should just leave things the way they are. You’ll drive yourself crazy thinking all the time.” If I didn’t try to maintain a level-headed awareness of how I reconcile my emotional life, ALL THE TIME, I would be, instead of a THINKING PERSON, a rather random, indiscriminate and uncertain person – out of touch with my own emotional destiny.
I am not at ease with uncertainty.
Uncertainty leads to impulsivity.
It is not so much that impulsivity is bad or wrong. On the contrary, impulsivity has a place in my life; I like to get in my car and just drive, winding up somewhere I hadn’t planned to go. I don’t believe, however, that that kind of impulsivity would work well to maintain my emotional health. My emotional frame of reference includes aspects of me that are best guarded against foreseeable harm. I have learned that behaving impulsively, without parameters, would be reckless.
I am a believer in premeditated impulsivity.
- Think Twice – A Guide to Improved Emotional Intelligence (eitheory.com)
- What Is Emotional Intelligence? (eitheory.com)
- Incremental Change (eitheory.com)
- You Make Yourself Feel (eitheory.com)
- Go Suck a Lemon (eitheory.com)
- A couple of random fragments to put somewhere… (aaronasphar.com)
- Emotional Wound Care (eitheory.com)
- Criticism (eitheory.com)
- The Bio-Psycho-Social Model (eitheory.com)
- Emotional Evolution (eitheory.com)
- EITheory: A Biopsychosocial Intervention Model (eitheory.com)
- Leadership history (3/3): Emotional Intelligence (yourleadershipibc.wordpress.com)
- What our definition of happiness may differ (transientreflections.com)
- What our definition of happiness may differ (onelifetimeblog.com)
- Premeditated Impulsivity (eitheory.com)
- Emotion is a biopsychosocial phenomenon (eitheory.com)