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All or Nothing Is Dangerous (Part 3 of Emotional Health: What Is It?)

   What does it mean to be emotionally healthy? We have already explored the first two principles concerning emotional health, and today we will consider number three.

  1. An emotionally healthy person has an expansive emotional vocabulary. 
  2. An emotionally healthy person is willing and able to feel a variety of emotions and does not refuse to feel any specific emotion.
  3. An emotionally healthy person is in touch with their emotions, but is not dominated by them.  

"By learning to observe your emotions, you learn to separate from (not identified as) your emotions and [be] at one with your emotions. In order to control, you must be separate from your emotions so that you can think and use coping strategies. But you also need to be one with your emotions, in the sense that you identify them as part of yourself and not something outside you."  — Linehan (1993)
We must seek to stay on the road between the ditches of being controlled by emotions and being out of touch with emotions.

There are two warnings here. The first is being unable to separate from emotions, which results in being controlled by emotions. This person feels emotions strongly and is unable to set emotions aside to consider logic. This person is unable to evaluate their emotions and come to a conclusion on whether their emotions make sense based on reality. This person makes emotional decisions that they will often come to regret. Life often feels uncontrollable for this person, because they are lost in the ocean of emotions without a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

However, the opposite also comes with pitfalls. The one who feels little to no emotions is also not emotionally healthy. Some struggle to feel emotion at all, and when they do it seems pointless. This person fails to benefit from a healthy emotional life. Healthy emotions spur us to action, help us discern what is happening in a situation, and help us to relate with others. If you see your emotions as not part of who you are, or you feel that you simply have no emotions, you will struggle to connect deeply with others. You will be unable or unwilling to enter into the joys and hurts of family and friends. You will not be a safe person for others to open up around, which means your relationships will seem shallow and distant.

Which way do you lean? Do you tend to be unable to ever separate from your emotions or do you tend to be unable to feel connected to strong emotions? The goal is to be on the road between these two unhealthy ditches. If you would like help staying on the road, I suggest you consider counseling, journaling, and/or doing some workbook geared towards developing a healthy emotional life. A few I would suggest are below.

Feel free to comment below or contact me if you would like to talk about emotional health or anything else.

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