Seven Things Emotionally Healthy People Don’t Do

Not long ago, I was sitting with a client who, shock of all shocks, didn’t want to be in therapy. He expressed whole-heartedly that, “Only people with mental illness need a therapist, but anyone with common sense can figure out their own problems.”

 

“So then, why are you here,” I asked?

 

“Because my wife and I aren’t getting along and she said if I didn’t come, she was done with this marriage,” he stated quite matter-of-factly.

 

I responded, “I guess you have a problem, then, don’t you?”

 

Truth be told, most of us think we are normal, healthy, and yes, right. Most of us would like to believe that we have a reasonable amount of intelligence with which to successfully navigate life and relationships.

 

Yet when I ask individuals what emotional health looks like, they look at me quizzically.

 

Few have an answer. Emotional health is something rarely discussed, almost universally assumed, and hardly ever dealt with effectively.

 

We teach physical health to our children in school. They understand about the importance of exercise and diet to our physical wellbeing. We teach spiritual health in church so that individuals can gain a greater understanding of Scripture and can grow in their relationship with God.

 

Where is the class that teaches emotional health? I never saw one when I was in high school. Apart from a general psychology course that taught the theories of Freud and Adler, where was there any mention of what emotionally healthy individuals do or don’t do?

 

Here are seven things that emotionally healthy people don’t do:

 

  1. They don’t make decisions based on their emotions. While they are able to acknowledge their emotions and face them, they have developed the habit of thinking through their emotions, a skill called “processing,” in order to understand their emotions, what they are, why they are feeling them, and what they need to do with their emotions in order to help them make the best decision possible. They thoughtfully respond to a situation instead of emotionally reacting to a situation. There’s a big difference.

 

  1. They don’t shame themselves. When they do blow it (as we all do,) instead of beating themselves over the head with shame and condemnation, they have learned how to be compassionate with themselves, offer forgiveness to themselves, so that they can move forward productively. Shame is never productive. When we shame ourselves, we can never forgive, we can never learn. Compassion allows us to let go of perfection, defensiveness, and hopelessness because it opens up the possibility of healing, learning, and growing. Compassion sees a future whereas shame sees only the moment.

 

  1. They don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly. The truth is we all make mistakes. Some people, no matter how well-intentioned, keep repeating the same mistakes time and again. When emotionally healthy people make mistakes, they are able to use their mistakes as learning opportunities. They try to understand the events that led to the mistake, the emotions that potentially motivated their decision. They assess how they could have done things differently then as well as how they might respond differently in the future.

 

  1. They don’t need other’s approval. Healthy individuals have developed their identity, they know who they are as well as what they believe. They have grappled to discover their passion and their purpose. They are driven from within. Therefore, they are not motivated or discouraged by other’s approval or criticism. They validate themselves. They encourage themselves. When they have down days, before they pick up the phone to call someone, they quiet themselves and speak words of kindness and truth instead.

 

  1. They don’t blame. Blame projects responsibility for our lives on someone else. Healthy individuals own responsibility for their lives and their decisions. Because their worth isn’t dependent on being right, they can own responsibility for their wounds, their words and their actions, understanding that owning responsibility is the first step toward healing.

 

  1. They never expect or rely on someone else to meet their needs. Instead of looking into the clouds for the answers to their problems, they look within, to themselves and God, to find an answer or solve a problem. Healthy individuals are able to experience temporary discomfort in order to reach a larger goal. They can delay gratification on the way toward achieving the goals they have set out to accomplish for themselves.

 

  1. They don’t pretend to be something or someone they are not. Healthy people are authentic people. They know their identity, their values and beliefs and they walk them out consistently. Their words and their actions match. They are individuals on whom you can count. When they give their word, you can trust they will follow through.

 

So, how many of these qualities can you identify in yourself?

 

The truth is, we all have struggled with these qualities at some point in our lives.  We are all on our own lifelong  emotional and spiritual journeys .  Yet when we have no clear understanding of what emotional health is, we have nothing at which to aim.

 

The more we are able to understand emotional health, the more we will be empowered to cultivate these qualities into our lives and relationships.

 

Health feels good. Health leads to more health. Health brings peace!

 

 

43 Comments

  1. Wow! So much to learn here! In the past I used to always think a lot about what others said about me and their approval. Thanks to God I know who I am now, I have my identity in Christ… and I have learned to rely on Him only! Great post!!! Blessings, I’m visiting you from Life Giving Link Up.

    W/Love,
    Tayrina from TGAWrites

    • lisamurray

      April 28, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      Tayrina,
      Thanks for your encouragement! You are so right – when we get our approval from God and ourselves, we no longer need other’s approval as much! What a privilege it is just to enjoy a relationship without needing anything from it. Blessings to you today!

  2. Today’s post was beneficial, Lisa. And, yes, why isn’t emotional health taught? That’s a good question. I’ve certainly had struggles in various areas, and now see my children in them at times as well. Would you mind if I printed this off for them? It might be beneficial for their own thoughts and our discussion. Neighboring with you at #IntentionalTuesday and #TestimonyTuesday

    • lisamurray

      April 28, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      Kristi,
      Thanks for stopping by today! I don’t know why emotional health isn’t taught. Studies show emotional intelligence is a greater contributor to success than intellectual intelligence. Absolutely, print this article and share it! Blessings!

  3. “Normal is relative,” is one of my favorite phrases. Wouldn’t it be a blessing if everyone’s normal also included emotional health? Shame and Blame are things I still struggle with. But, with God’s grace and his spirit, I’m working toward better health. Lots to think about in this post, Lisa! Thank you. (Stopping by from Intentionally Pursuing’s link-up.)

    • lisamurray

      April 28, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      Bonny,
      I wish everyone’s “normal” included emotional health. What an impact it could have on our families, our churches, and communities. Blessings to you today!

  4. What an informative and helpful post! I see some of this in myself, especially the issues with shame and approval. I have struggled so much in these areas throughout my life, but I see how God is working in my life and helping me to understand “no condemnation” and who I am in Him. I still have a long way to go, but I know He is redeeming my brokenness for good. I started sharing my journey of healing from abuse back in November, and have found the process of reflecting back over the journey thus far so helpful. I’d love it if you’d visit my blog at incrementalhealing.wordpress.com and share your thoughts.
    Blessings,
    Kamea

    • lisamurray

      April 28, 2015 at 10:18 AM

      Kamea,
      I’d be honored to visit your site! To be honest, we all struggle with some aspects of emotional health. We are each on our individual journeys and God will continually use areas of brokenness or weakness in our lives to heal us, teach us, and grow us. Blessings to you on your healing journey! Don’t stop!

  5. I love this list! I wish I could say I was rocking a perfect seven, but that is not that case. These are great benchmarks for emotional health. I can see areas where I have grown and I can also see areas that need progress. Thank you!

    • lisamurray

      April 28, 2015 at 10:20 AM

      Samantha,
      I wish I could say that I rocked a perfect seven, too! My hope is that as we become aware, and can even discuss emotional health issues, that we can use these benchmarks to keep us learning and growing together! Blessings today!

  6. Lisa, what great insight into the habits of those who are emotionally healthy. As I read through the list, I saw some that I have happily worked through and others that I still struggle with.

    Thank you, Lisa, for being a voice in this area and sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

    • lisamurray

      April 28, 2015 at 6:25 PM

      Crystal,

      Thanks for your kind words! I’m glad you were encouraged on your journey. Blessings to you at #intentionaltuesday!

  7. What a great post and helpful list to keep in mind and do a wellness check every once in awhile, for sure! I have a dear friend who has worked hard, on her own, with God, and with therapists, to fight hard to gain these skills… she has to pay close attention to her mental health, and because she now has the awareness and skills like you mentioned above, she is one of the kindest, more self-aware people I know and I LOVE the questions she asks of me. Not surface, but truly self-care questions! I am so thankful for her, for she is an example of your statement… “The more we are able to understand emotional health, the more we will be empowered to cultivate these qualities into our lives and relationships. “

    • lisamurray

      April 29, 2015 at 11:07 AM

      Karrilee,

      Thanks for your encouraging words! I am so glad to hear of your friend’s journey. I truly believe that emotional health can empower us to live the life not only we want, but the life God wants for us as well! Blessings to you today!

  8. Numbers 2 and 4 need some work from this not-quite-emotionally-healthy woman!! Thank you for teaching me and encouraging me today.
    Visiting from Juana’s.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    • lisamurray

      April 29, 2015 at 2:16 PM

      Numbers 2 and 4 get me sometimes, too! We all need reminders and encouragement along the way. Blessings to you!

  9. I never thought about the fact that we are not taught what emotional health looks like in a practical sense.

    Thank you so much for sharing these very helpful insights.

    • lisamurray

      April 29, 2015 at 2:15 PM

      I appreciate your comment, Karen! I believe most of us have never thought of emotional health or been taught what it looks like. How we could bless ourselves, our children, and our families to learn and instill these basic truths. I wish I had known way back when!! Blessings to you!

  10. Very good points here. I recognized a few that I needed to work on. I do have problems sharing my true emotions with others but I’m better than I used to be. I also, sometimes, make decisions based on emotions. Thanks so much for sharing this insightful post. Visiting from the Woman to Woman Link Up.

    • lisamurray

      April 29, 2015 at 2:47 PM

      Thank you for your positive feedback, Rebecca! I think it is wonderful to be able to identify where we are, what we’re working on, and where we ultimately want to be – I love your insights! Blessings today.

  11. So I’m slightly relieved you mentioned that we all deal with these things from time to time 😉 What a great post, Lisa, this is not a topic I hear being discussed or written about. And we can all relate.
    I loved this “when we have no clear understanding of what emotional health is, we have nothing at which to aim.”
    So glad I visited again from Holley’s… have a wonderful week!!!

    • lisamurray

      April 29, 2015 at 3:16 PM

      Thank you, Christine! We don’t talk about emotional health enough, but it greatly impacts each of our lives and relationships. Blessings to you this week!

  12. This is such a great post! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge! I need to read it a few more times to make sure it all soaks in!
    I like #7 the best, but it makes me think that over half of our society is not emotionally healthy. Too many people aren’t really comfortable being who they are. Too often, I see people putting on a face and pretending to be something they clearly are not. (I have done it myself, but the older I get, the more I’m okay being me!)
    Thank you for sharing!

    • lisamurray

      April 30, 2015 at 1:18 PM

      Thank you Dana for your encouraging words! Too many do seem uncomfortable with who they are and live behind a mask, yet God desires all of us to find healing, and completion and freedom and wholeness in Him! Blessings to you!

  13. Love this, Lisa. Will be sharing. 🙂

  14. Ohhh, great list, Lisa! Wonderful benchmarks. I wish I could say I made a perfect score, but alas, there is work to be done. I love that you gave us these guidelines. Joining you today from #TellHisStory

    • lisamurray

      April 30, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      Ellen,
      Thanks for sharing! Most of us at some point struggle with one or more of these qualities. I just find it helpful to have an idea of what health looks like, so that I can have something at which to aim. Blessings!

  15. Lisa, I really like your posts. Your insight has caught my eye and I think you have powerful things to say for sure! This is an awesome post on something I had never read before. I am going to share this with my network. Loved it. I only have one criticism of you – you need to write more often. Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.

    • lisamurray

      April 30, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      Kelly,
      Thank you for encouraging words. You truly are a wonderful and gifted cheerleader for so many! I have loved being a part of #RaRaLinkup and getting to know so many amazing women. Blessings to you!!!

  16. This is my first visit, and I am happy to be here. This is a great list. I have grown so much in the last year, and noticed that I learned to avoid doing many of these things on the list. I definitely feel more emotionally healthy.

    • lisamurray

      May 1, 2015 at 8:59 AM

      So glad you stopped by, Laura! I am excited you found the list helpful and that it allowed you to see how far you’ve come this year. Blessings to you!

  17. Lisa, this was good- so clear and helpful. I know that I swing in and out of doing the things on this list. I’m sure we all do. Thank you for sharing. I’m glad I stopped by from Grace and Truth.

    • lisamurray

      May 1, 2015 at 11:30 AM

      Thanks, Dawn! You are right – we all swing in and out of these list items. The list simply helps me stay closer on target! Blessings to you today!

  18. This is wonderful! A very useful check to see when we are being unhealthy and even when we have unhealthy people relating to us. Pinning, tweeting, sharing! Awesomeness! Blessings from “Espressos of Faith” via #Grace&Truth

    • lisamurray

      May 1, 2015 at 3:44 PM

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post, Bonnie! It is always helpful for me to have a checklist that allows me to see where I am as well as where other are, too. It helps me know how to love others best! Blessings and thanks for stopping by!

  19. Thank you so much for this post. I’m coming out of some major “bumps and bruises” in my marriage and this post gives me a good idea of what I should be looking for as I work on emotional health. Thank you for sharing with us at Grace & Truth!

    • lisamurray

      May 2, 2015 at 7:15 AM

      Rebekah,

      So glad you enjoyed this post! I love that God reveals nuggets of truth to us in whatever situation or circumstance we are in. Emotional health is always something we can work toward and grow in over the course of our lives. Blessings today, Rebekah!

  20. This is such a wonderfully practical post! A great checklist, and it all makes perfect sense. I love your last phrase “health brings peace”… Stopping by from Faith Filled Friday. Blessings to you!

  21. Oh I definitely shame myself and need others’ approval. With age and by the grace of God, I am slowly overcoming those tendencies!

    • lisamurray

      May 4, 2015 at 7:11 AM

      Sarah,
      We all have areas of struggle. Hopefully with age and the grace of God, we can find healing and growth in our lives. We can become emotionally healthy individuals. We can experience peace! Blessings!

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