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Taking the first step

Speaking about one’s emotional health is never easy. It makes me feel extremely vulnerable and open for judgements not just from others but mostly from myself. Emotional health is about how we think and feel. It is about our sense of wellbeing, our ability to cope with life events and how we acknowledge our own emotions as well as those of others. On analyzing myself on a scale of 5 for all the well-being factors that affect me, emotions ranked the lowest. I wanted to dig deeper and explore why my emotions seemed to be such a strong driving factor in everything. 

Recently, I had a misunderstanding with a family member and it affected me, but instead of addressing it I just kept everything within me. I knew talking about it would make things okay but I didn’t know how to. Sometimes, I get worried about things going down south or the other person not understanding my view point. In the fear of things not working out I never do it altogether.

I’m someone who has trouble sharing my thoughts and feelings with people about things that are bothering me. These emotions ultimately start piling up until one day I can’t take it and it explodes. This whole process affects my life in different aspects. Since I’m constantly thinking about it, there’s disturbed sleep, low productivity, feelings of constant remorse, guilt and multiple interpersonal conflicts. As common as these issues may seem, becoming aware and recognizing them is the first step towards dealing with them.

For some reason, growing up there has always been a self asserted weight of expectation on my shoulders. In school and college, it was about excelling academically. At home, it was about being that obedient child and following rules. At work, it became about not messing up and overcompensating in the fear of letting myself down. If I falter from these self created norms that I have for myself then I am super critical of myself and sometimes pretty judgmental too. I usually situate myself in the back of the line to deal with things. 

We’ve all heard that self care is very important but practicing self care for your emotions is also equally important. We understand that exercise, a good diet, and enough sleep is essential for health — but emotional self-care can be easier to overlook. Being my harshest critic helps me improve in my work but I’ve done it for so long that I’ve forgotten that I need to be gentle too. We can choose to be kind, to be hopeful, to be helpful and, take care of ourselves and others in ways that sustain and strengthen us.

There’s no perfect solution to deal with emotions. Everyone paves their own way. But by exploring these methods a little deeply I want to be in control of how I pave that way. I “feel” a lot but that’s okay because that means I “care” a lot. 

Some of the things that have somewhat worked with me in the past have been first and foremost giving it time. Time gives me the space to think, analyse and work out the issue internally before taking any step towards things. We’ve all heard that time is a healer. But I disagree – time by itself doesn’t heal anything but using that time to develop some healthy habits/ healing techniques might just work. A new study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science also confirms this idea that time doesn’t heal.

Sometimes having people around me that I can rely on for comfort with zero judgements also helps. Although difficult to share, sometimes just the presence of these people feels like a warm blanket of comfort. Sometimes I don’t even have to say anything for them to know that I need them or there’s some emotional turmoil in me. But building these kinds of bonds with people – where you feel emotionally secure to share things is not easy. There is discomfort in the beginning but taking that leap once and being vulnerable helps. 

Before reflecting on this aspect of my life I didn’t know there was a bridge i needed to cross. Now that I’m on that bridge, I look forward to exploring and working on this without my assumptions and judgements holding me back.

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