Lets Get Emotionally Fit

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In today’s modern world, a lot of people are so obsessed with their physical appearance that they are even willing to invest on the latest skin care treatment, gym gadgets, or physical workout programs just to improve their body image. They work hard to sculpt their bodies after the body icons featured in celebrity mags. There is nothing wrong with physical fitness. All of us want to feel good about ourselves. The inherent lust for attention and approval are necessary to boost one’s self esteem. But what about emotional fitness? Is there enough demand and attention given to a person’s emotional well-being? Are anxiety and depression signs of not being emotionally fit?

Enjoying a wide range of physical experiences start from childhood as early as we make our first step and learn to improve balance. Parents help their children develop strength and agility through physical exercises and giving them the freedom to run freely and explore their surroundings. However, some of us were not given the freedom to exercise our emotional muscles: to explore and express a full range of emotional experiences.

People who were raised to flex their emotional muscles are in touch with their own feelings and have the ability to express these feelings appropriately and without embarrassment. These people are considered to be emotionally intelligent.

Some people, especially those who belong to the older generations, have the notion that being outspoken, showing anger, or simply giggling to your heart’s delight are disruptive behaviors and, thus, have to be discouraged. That is why people who grew up in restrictive environments tend to become timid and shy. They have difficulty expressing their emotions. They learn to bury their feelings and find it hard to build and maintain relationships which usually require emotional openness, honesty, and vulnerability.

Just like our physical muscles, emotional muscles can either be underdeveloped or overdeveloped. These distortions or imbalances may cause physical and/or emotional fatigue, pain and inflexibility. It is possible that your anger muscle can be overdeveloped, while your happiness muscle is underdeveloped. This means that you may easily get irritated or angry, but may have difficulty expressing joy and happiness. People with overdeveloped sadness muscle may be prone to depression, compared to those with underdeveloped sadness muscle. To be emotionally fit, awareness of one’s feelings is very important, as well as finding healthy ways to express these feelings on a daily basis, or when the situation calls for it.

An effective emotional fitness program requires a sequence of strategies. According to Paulette Tomasson, a registered nurse with a masters in counseling psychology, you must be able to identify first where you are at in terms of emotional well-being, and where you want to go. Ask yourself the following questions: “What emotions do I experience throughout the day? Does one emotion override the rest? Is the quality of my life compromised by an unexpressed emotion? Why am I unwilling to express that emotion? How can I put that emotion to good use? How can I build emotional fitness to optimize my personal and professional lives?”

After assessing where you are coming from, talking with family and friends can be the next step. A good counseling can also help you exercise your emotional muscles and achieve emotional fitness.

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