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Playful Self-Discipline: Resources for Emotional Health

emotional health swingsAccepting that it’s important to nurture your emotional health is one thing, but actually figuring out how to go about doing it is another. I fully admit that I’m still learning about how to live a stable, peaceful life with balanced emotions, but I have picked up a few insights and resources that have helped me in my journey so far. If you are interested in learning more about how to live with your emotions in a gentle way, here are some of the resources I’ve found really helpful.

Byron Katie – The Work

Understanding the core insight behind Byron Katie’s Work was truly a life-changing moment for me. Her tagline is “Loving What Is” and it’s perfectly true. Only by accepting and loving reality as it is can we be happy people. This doesn’t mean everybody should be a doormat or that we don’t need to work towards change, it only means that you have to accept that things are the way they are before you can be happy. Insisting that everyone else needs to change in order for you to be happy is a recipe for conflicted relationships and unmet needs. Her 4-step worksheet is an excellent way to challenge some of the stories we tell ourselves that aren’t true, and to see how we project our dissatisfaction with our own perceived shortcomings onto other people and then insist they do something about it. The best way to understand what The Work is all about is to actually try it here.

A handful of sessions with a professional psychologist.

This can be expensive, but thankfully in my early 20s I had an employer that covered the cost of 6 sessions under the employee wellness plan. During those sessions and in the months afterwards I was able to talk about and process some emotional baggage that had been dragging me down for a while. Having 6 heavy conversations with a professional who wasn’t personally involved with my life was kind of difficult at the time but really helped change the way I deal with making mistakes.

Marshall Rosenberg – Non-Violent Communication

Learning how to communicate with others about my needs in a blame-free way was something that helped to guide me towards a better understanding of what my needs actually are. After all, in order to use NVC successfully, you need to be fairly self-aware and able to tell what you’re really upset about. In my experience, working on my emotional health was often tangled up with the health of my relationships. Improving my own awareness and acceptance of my emotional states helped me communicate better, which improved my relationships. And that formed a positive feedback loop, with healthier relationships and better communication translating into more positive emotions for me.

In the end, most of what I have learned about safely riding the swings of my emotions has been through direct experience, cobbled together with snippets of things I’ve read or heard talked about in passing. I’ve learned about my emotions the same way I’ve learned about other things auto-didactically through my adult years (and the way I hope to encourage my kids to be self-directed learners); it’s a mix of intuition and openness, a knack for listening and asking good questions, a willingness to try something new while watching for repeating patterns, all mixed up with the humility to admit that the way I’d been doing something for years and years was wrong all along.

Have you discovered any great resources for emotional health? Tell me about them in the comments!

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