Enjoying the most fulfilling relationships with friends, family and romantic partners is a matter of becoming as emotionally healthy as a person can. Without emotional health, relationships are often relied upon too much to make a person whole, and yet an individual can only achieve personal wholeness. The good news is that no matter where you lie on the emotional health spectrum, you can make a difference toward better health today by making small steps toward achieving three key emotional health markers: Profound significance, unswerving authenticity and self-giving love.
1. Profound significance
Healthy people have a great relationship with themselves. Not only do they recognize their best traits and know that they are of great value to themselves as well as others, but superficial measuring tools coming from outside of themselves cannot sway their self-worth. In short, they are true to themselves, despite what they perceive other people may want for them. They know that no one can give them significant life meaning simply by acting in a way that pleases another person to their own detriment. For instance if you are not true to yourself, you may find friends and romantic relationships with people who will tell you how to act or what to choose in life in order to fill that personal void in your emotional health. Or, you may seek out people to befriend and date based on other people’s criteria in mind. There are 3 ways to establish profound significance:
- Tap into your self-talk. Since a high percentage of the things we say to ourselves can be negative, start by transforming negative statements into positive ones. Praise yourself for your good traits or for good behaviors that are exemplary of the kind of person you would like to be and are in alignment with the long-term goals you have for your life.
- Make a mistake. The next time you make a mistake listen to the negative self-talk that cycles through your head, and then calmly remind yourself that mistakes do not distract from your overall value and self-worth. All mistakes are opportunities to learn, and part of that learning process is to forgive yourself and move on! Moving beyond your past experiences and mistakes will help you escape from bitterness and sadness. Choices made—even choosing the wrong type of partner—and situations experienced in prior relationships, such as allowing yourself to be treated unfairly, can become mistakes that you are afraid to repeat again. This feeling of fear, unless come to terms with, can enter into every new relationship that you become involved in, causing undue angst and doubts for both you and your partner.
- Start anew. To get over blaming yourself for making bad choices or to heal from others treating you poorly, transform your guilt first into sorrow and accept that it happened, but that it’s over. You can learn from these events and situations but from this point forward, it’s a fresh start. You can choose to do this whenever you are ready—and the sooner the better! And don’t worry if bad feelings resurface again. When that happens, simply remind yourself that this is now. Sometimes when bad feelings become a habit they can happen so often that you come to believe that this is who you are—but it’s not true. Your inner worth is something that is untouched by experience, and it’s only your negative judgments of yourself that tank your self-worth.
2. Unswerving authenticity
When the person you are and the person you are trying to be are the same, you’ll have achieved unswerving authenticity. Those who know they have work to do in this area may experience moments of authenticity when they feel completely “in the moment” and are not worried about what people (including themselves!) think or feel about them. It usually happens in a moment in which another is helped “out of the goodness of your heart,” and during this moment you’ll know that you are truly in harmony with who you are and the kind of person you would like to be. To help achieve unswerving authenticity, try to think of every action in your life as a choice that can advance you toward the person you would like to be. After only a short while of practicing this way of thinking you’ll see that all of your choices will result in you becoming the best—and only—version of you.
3. Self-giving love
Self-giving love means being at total peace with oneself enough to realize that you are valuable to others. This requires an honest assessment of the self and acting not out of self-interest, but in the interest of others. With your ego fully in check by practicing unswerving authenticity, you’ll be able to see past the superficial struggles of the ego because you won’t feel the need to question your value and self-worth—you’ll already know how great you are. Self-giving love requires you to share your love with others, without insecurity and without ego. It may be difficult to practice self-giving love at first, but start with those that are the easiest to love. It could be as simple as saying hello to a coworker who looks as though he’s having an incredibly bad day. When you ask how his day is going, be prepared to lend emotional support, even if it’s just a joke. Maybe you could offer to take a short walk around the block to get coffee. You will be motivated out of the recognition not of your own needs, but of his that he could use some support and someone to take interest in his day. All in all, emotional health is necessary to healthy relationships. By making small steps in toward mastering the 3 markers of emotional health, you will greatly improve the quality of your life. And when you experience true giving, you’ll find that you are acting out of unswerving authenticity because you understand your profound significance—and by doing so, you’ll also improve the lives of those around you.