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Blog / / Emotional Health - ‘Nurture What You Truly Desire and Enjoy’
12/10/2020
Emotional Health - ‘Nurture What You Truly Desire and Enjoy’
Prof. Dr. Jelena Sladojević Matić analytical psychotherapist, professor at Media and Communications Faculty
Emotional Health - ‘Nurture What You Truly Desire and Enjoy’
Generally, emotional and mental health could be understood as a person’s ability to love, work, and connect with others. We can understand emotional health as reaching the stage of emotional maturity in which we use our capacities to understand ourselves and others, make a balance between inner life and outer reality, we are able to solve problems and conflicts, we have an experience of inner wholeness and insight into our own psychological processes.

A significant aspect of emotional health is the ability of a person to functionally adapt to certain social and wider social and cultural contexts. Modern psychology defines mental health and the concept of normality or psychological problems and disorders through the concept of mental functionality and dysfunction. It also defines them in the context of the time or phase of life in which the problem occurs, as well as in the historical and social context.

Emotional health is also associated with the ability to tolerate frustration and the development of effective adjustment mechanisms. An emotionally healthy person is a person who has a stable self-esteem, strong self-acceptance (including acceptance of their limitations and impossibilities), is interested in the inner world of themselves and others, has a capacity for empathy and has a need for self-actualization, that is, achievement of the potential they carry within themselves.

It is important to say that emotional health is not a permanently reached position, but we actually oscillate on the axis of stability - instability. Certain life and social crises can affect emotionally very stable people, they can lead them into a state of imbalance, but their ’recovery’ and return to functional patterns of behavior is faster, they have more insight and understanding of their internal reactions and use more different support systems.

Some of the common questions are how to manage stress, negative feelings, our emotions, i.e. how to strengthen resilience and stay positive, how to avoid emotional health disorders and whether we can promote or practice positive life attitudes.

Stress is an integral part of life, we cannot avoid it. Positive life events can cause stress as well, but it is very important to adopt some constructive strategies and mechanisms for overcoming stress that we use when we face external and internal experiences that we perceive as stressful. In his theory, Gerald Caplan also defined life crises as the risk of slipping into regressive patterns of behavior, but also as a great development opportunity. Perception of threats plays a major role in the experience of crisis and the degree of reaction; if the crisis is perceived as highly uncertain, threatening and jeopardizing, we often have the experience of helplessness and loss of control as a reaction. The greatest stress and negative reactions are caused by the threat of loss.

However, responses to crisis and stress may be different in different people. This answer depends a lot on the degree of resilience (psychological toughness and resilience of the person) or vulnerability (vulnerability, sensitivity). Research also shows that social support is one of the most important factors in successfully overcoming the crisis.

One of the most important capacities for stress management is our ability to recognize the sources of stress, as well as to be aware of our reaction to that stressor. People sometimes ‘tolerate’ stress for a very long time, until they become aware of its negative consequences and their suffering. The next important thing is to realistically look at the amount of emotional engagement, that is, our response to a crisis or stressor, and to try to reduce catastrophizing and negative evaluation of consequences, if possible. Of course, it is very important not to see the ‘ideal’ of emotional stability as a complete absence of unpleasant and painful feelings, because they are also part of our normal functioning.

Being sad, scared, or moody at times does not make us mentally ill or emotionally unstable. We have the right to our negative emotions, but it is very important that we try to understand and endure them. Of course, if the condition of sadness, bad mood or anxiety lasts for a long time, it is a kind of alarm that it may be necessary to seek social support first and share those conditions with close people, and if that does not lead to improvement, seek professional help. When we realize that we have a problem that we cannot solve on our own or with the help of close people, it is very important to accept it first, not to be angry with ourselves and not to offend ourselves/the environment, to understand that many people go through similar experiences, and most importantly, that there is a way to feel better. Sometimes short psychological counseling interventions can help to overcome the crisis, and sometimes it is necessary to dedicate a little more to ourselves in solving certain problems and start the process of psychotherapy. Sometimes we will start this process individually, but in some situations it is important that the partner or even the entire family participates in psychotherapy, in order to overcome the crisis.

Self-love means that we unconditionally accept ourselves and all our states and feelings, that we can understand ourselves when we can't do something, to develop an empathetic attitude towards those parts of our own experience or inner world that for some reason we can't change or ‘correct’ much. We often get angry with ourselves, resent ourselves, set too high demands which we struggle to achieve, or resent ourselves if we have given them up. We often have much more understanding, tolerance and compassion for other people and their needs than for ourselves.

In my opinion, to be gentle with oneself means to alleviate and reduce internal pressure, to accept sometimes a state of helplessness without criticism and self-deprecation, to soften that ‘inside look’ which is very often our strongest judge and evaluator. Then listen to your inner needs, meet them, nurture what we truly desire and enjoy.

Self-love also means nurturing one's physical and mental health, and very often it is asking for help and starting a psychotherapeutic process, a manifestation of such an attitude towards oneself and trust that we can be better, no matter how inadequate or powerless and weak a person may feel at that moment.
AUTHOR
Prof. Dr. Jelena Sladojević Matić
analytical psychotherapist, professor at Media and Communications Faculty