Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
Our sustained happiness is a sign of emotional fitness just like our blood panel, cholesterol, and blood pressure are signs of our physical fitness.
When we are happy, our emotional needs are met and motivate us to set and achieve goals. So our feelings are indicators of our emotional well being and what we need to work on. Conversely, not meeting our emotional needs and being unhappy or anxious for prolonged periods of time can lead to emotional fatigue and exhaustion and for some, depression and even trauma.
Our happiness is a product of and dependent on the state of our self-esteem. Self-esteem is an implicit judgment that every person has of his or her ability to face life’s challenges and solve problems and of their right to achieve happiness and be given respect. Self-esteem is a conscious decision we make and reflects confidence in our abilities to take risks, love and be loved, protect ourselves and achieve goals that bring us joy and that we know we deserve.
Healthy self-esteem allows us to rely on ourselves for validation of our self-worth because we know what we are capable of doing, know we are worthy of joy, and set goals to bring us joy that we are confident we can achieve. When we do not achieve our goals, we do not hunker down in shame but rather we course correct or get advice or assistance to achieve our goals. The role of other people is not to validate us or rescue us. Their role is to complement us and to share our joy with. We do not routinely depend on others because we rely on ourselves and cues from our internal gauges to define who we are and our level of happiness.
People with low self-esteem, on the other hand, cannot look internally for validation of their self-worth and typically are pain addicted due to abuse or trauma or possibly more severe psychological issues. They also have high tendencies towards codependency. Other people become sources or solutions to their pain.
Here are some characteristics of those with high self-esteem. Which ones do you possess? Which ones do you feel you need to work on to achieve emotional “fitness?”
People with a healthy level of self-esteem:
- Are self-reliant on themselves to define their self-worth and for affirmation of their thoughts and ideas.
- Can use their compassion responsibly without routinely self-sacrificing their personal needs, rights and authorities for others.
- Set joy-seeking goals they know they deserve and are confident in their abilities to achieve them.
- Understand well what their personal boundaries and authorities are and understand their right to have theirs honored and respected.
- Practice self-care, kindness, and nurturance including self-compassion when they are in emotional pain or are distressed.
- Can assertively defend their personal boundaries and respect others’ personal boundaries.
- Firmly believe in certain values and principles, and are ready to defend them even when finding opposition, feeling secure enough to modify them in light of experience.
- Are able to act according to what they think to be the best choice, trusting their own judgment, and not feeling guilty when others do not like their choice.
- Do not lose time worrying excessively about what happened in the past, nor about what could happen in the future. They learn from the past and plan for the future, but live in the present intensely.
- Fully trust in their capacity to solve problems, not hesitating after failures and difficulties. They ask others for help when they need it.
- Consider themselves equal in dignity to others, rather than inferior or superior, while accepting differences in certain talents, personal prestige or financial standing.
- Understand how they are an interesting and valuable person for others, at least for those with whom they have a friendship.
- Routinely set and achieve goals to fulfill their spiritual, financial, career, community, relationship, and health needs.
- Identify and resist manipulation, collaborate with others only if it seems appropriate and convenient.
- Admit and accept different internal feelings and drives, either positive or negative, revealing those drives to others only when they choose.
- Are able to enjoy a great variety of activities.
- Are sensitive to feelings and needs of others; respect generally accepted social rules, and claim no right or desire to prosper at others’ expense.
- Use their compassion responsibly to their and others’ benefit.
- Can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others when challenges arise.
- Are tolerant of other people’s differences including differences of opinion.
Answering these questions can help you gauge your level of emotional fitness and where you need to focus and set some milestones and goals.
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