A senior manager at a bank, Payal is an excellent team leader. She has good understanding of the needs of her teams and an expertise in her domain of work. However, she finds herself in a tough situation at home. She faces challenges in her relationship with her in-laws and her husband is employed overseas. Certain demands of her mother-in-law in regards to the household chores don’t go well with Payal. She feels pressurized and drained out of energy by the end of the day. Her response to the constant nagging has remained the same over years. She doesn’t feel loved and accepted by her family and she feels treated like an outsider. She complains of feeling exhausted all the time. She hasn’t been able to adapt herself to the situation.
Fitness is the ability to fit into a given situation; to adapt and being able to take action. Fitness is context dependent. You can be good in one not so good in another. It is a way of reaching health and wellbeing.
Just like you have physical hygiene, physical first aid and physical fitness, we have mental hygiene, mental first aid and mental fitness.
We practice physical hygiene when we take a bath everyday, we wash our hands before eating, we brush our teeth before going to bed. Unfortunately, emotional hygiene tasks have not become routine tasks. An age old saying, prevention is cure has been deeply accepted for maintaining our physical health. Kids know that they have to put a band-aid if they get a cut but we fail to teach them that emotional cuts need band-aids too. Emotional first-aid is as important if not more than physical first-aid. We spend time and resources in choosing the right diet and working out to choose physical fitness. Then, spending time, energy and resources for physical fitness is equally important.
First, what are emotions? Energy in motion. They keep you moving.
Every thought has a corresponding emotion and every emotion impacts the body. Emotions are by products of thinking and they impact our body causing disease – lack of ease. For example, if someone insults you, you feel anger and you clench your jaws. Emotional Fitness is the ability to adapt to any circumstance emotionally. It means you are the one controlling your own emotions and not the other way round.
A golden formula that is important for emotional fitness E + R = O. (Event + Response = Outcome) All the Outcomes of an Event in our lives are dependent on our response to it. Most of the times we blame the situation for unfavourable outcomes. We do not realize that if we want favourable outcomes we have to choose our responses accordingly.
Payal can change her response depending on the outcome she desires since the current outcome is not favourable and also disappointing. Outcome one, she can choose not to care and find love and acceptance at work. This would mean she can continue what she has been doing. Outcome two, if she wants the love and acceptance from her family, she needs to reach out and invest time and energy in communicating with them and doing the acts and activities which perhaps means waking up just a little before her scheduled time to contribute to building of her home, sharing pleasantries and her plans and events of the day would lead to the foundation of acceptance and love.
Emotional fitness then is being aware of emotions, not to be overtaken by feelings just because you cant control your reaction. It is an idea that you can choose how you are going to feel in any given situation and not be hindered by a different situation just because you lack fitness achieving freedom from them.
The fact remains we spend time on diets and keeping our body in shape. To develop emotional fitness you need courage wellness and discipline.
When you have puss you need to fix the root cause. Cosmetic surgery does not help in the long run.
The first step is to acknowledge the adversity and your feelings. Don’t try to find meaning or forge one immediately.
Another common error we make is to want to completely eliminate all our problems. Don’t abolish the adversities. If you banish the dragon you banish the hero. We need to remember, tough times call upon the heroic strain in each one f us and in those moments we don’t decide the behaviours that construct our experience. We doubt ourselves finally through our flaws and that makes up a journey of forging identity and finding meaning.
Feel the pain. Don’t choose false positivity. It is okay to cry.
Blaming yourself or others is not helpful in any way. The self loathing leaves a void that every purpose of life is capable of filling up.
Be aware and notice. Step back. Look at the situation from an outside perspective.
Ask yourself. Am I giving into habit? Is it rational and justified?
Then you’ll be able to choose who you want to become. The person who you choose to become pulls you.
Write a journal where you create conversations with the person that you want to become.
Lastly and most importantly, always keep in mind that it’s okay to say I need help. If you have a throat infection and you go to a bladder doctor you won’t benefit from the medicines. Similarly, when facing adversities, a coach is the best person to turn to. It is okay to ask for help.
Making these a habit and a part of our routine go a long way in enhancing our mental health. It becomes important to recognize our energy leaks and plug them. Identify the situations and people that leak your energy. Practice the emotional freedom technique. Another simple activity that can be practiced by each of us is to make an emotional waste basket. Like we separate dry waste and wet waste, we must also make sure to dispose off the emotional waste in the right manner. Identify one emotion each day that you want to throw away, write it on a piece of paper and throw it in the emotional waste basket. These practices have the potential to give enhanced effect if we first learn to love and accept ourselves. It is only when we love ourselves will we be able to show empathy towards others.
Today success depends largely on not just on your physical fitness or on how fit your bank balance is but success belongs to those who create the outcomes they desire. Choose to be emotionally fit.