Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mental Health: Three Things We Must Know

Self-esteem, positivity, and emotional resilience are foundational behavioral attributes of good psychological health. Like other behaviors, these attributes can be developed and improved with practice.  However, they all depend upon a critical skill, emotional self-regulation.

Three questions offer insight into the concept of emotional self-regulation: 1) What are emotions?,  2) Where do emotions come from?, and 3) How can we make them better?

We must have satisfactory answers to these questions if we are to sustain emotional health and well-being over time.  Put simply, we will not be able to fix our sagging emotions, poor self-worth, or our anxiety or depression if we do not know how to  properly regulate our emotions.  Most important, we will not know or create enduring happiness without this knowledge .

Think about your answers, and see how they align with what I have written below:

1) What are emotions?  Emotions arise from cortical and subcortical neural activity in our brains.   States of emotional arousal produce neurochemical and physiological changes and sensations that we experience as feelings or emotions.  We experience many kinds of emotion: anger, joy, fear, excitement.  Emotions highlight what we like and what we don't like.  Some push us forward while others hold us back.

2) Where do emotions come from? Emotions come from us, from our brain.  Emotions are generated by our thinking, not by the world around us.  Scary thoughts generate scared feelings. Thoughts of delight bring on positive feelings.  Our appraisal of our world determines how we feel about it.

3) How can we make them better?  You may or may not be able to improve the world around you. However, you always have the option of improving the way you think about it.  To feel better about your world, you can make yourself change the way you think. When  you think right, you feel right!

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