Every year, I take my children to the doctor to get a checkup.
The physician always checks their vitals, sees how they are growing, asks a bunch of questions, and allows time for me (and my child) to inquire about their physical health.
All this sounds familiar, right?
By the time children are 3 or 4, they are usually brushing their own teeth.
We are taught to wash our hands before we can even reach the sink on our own.
Physical well-being is important in our society.
And it should be.
But have you noticed that we spend far less time on our emotional and psychological well-being?
I mean, why aren't there emotional checkups?
Dr. Guy Winch describes this discrepancy between physical well-being and emotional well-being as favoritism of the body over the mind.
So where's the case for emotional hygiene?
I think there should be an Emotion Hygiene residency program.
And Emotional Hygiene physicians.
Think about it:
We take care of clipping our fingernails,
and washing our bodies,
but we often neglect taking care of our minds.
I mean, we all experience emotional scrapes and bruises, just like we do physical ones.
We would never tell someone with a broken arm to just "shake it off".
"It's all in your wrist!"
"You'll get over it!"
But don't we sometimes do that with mental "injuries"?
Emotional cuts and scrapes?
"It's time for her to get over her heartache."
"Suck it up, so-and-so's life is WAY harder than yours."
So how can we give ourselves an emotional checkup?
1. We can pay attention to our brain.
Have you paid attention to what your mind tells you about your past failures?
Has a failure convinced you that you can't succeed?
'I'm just not a finisher.'
'I've never lost weight and kept it off before.'
'I can't not yell at my kids.'
If so, it's time to break that negative cycle.
Exchange those dis-empowering thoughts for ones that serve you.
'Of course I'm a finisher. I mean, I finished cleaning the bathroom yesterday. I finished my breakfast this morning. I finished supporting my husband through medical school and residency. Maybe I could finish my college degree, too.'
'It's possible that I could lose weight and keep it off. Other people have done it.'
'I wonder why it's hard for me to be patient with my kids and not lose my temper? How can I take better care of myself so I can in turn show up with more patience and understanding for my children?'
2. Allow yourself to feel your emotions.
Most of us are so afraid to truly feel negative emotion, have you noticed?
So we eat our feelings instead.
I mean, ice cream is the only answer after yet another night of putting your kids to bed by yourself while the hubs is working late again, right?
Because you know, ice cream makes everything better, doesn't it?
You sure about that?
Maybe it's time to process your feelings instead of eating them.
Just sit with them until they subside.
Because they always subside if you let yourself feel them.
And allow your children the space to do the same.
Instead of giving them a sucker to "make them feel better",
just allow them to feel sad or hurt if they are sad or hurt.
3. Are you paying attention to your inner voice?
Are you kind to yourself?
If not, it's time to notice those thoughts,
get curious about them,
and then replace them with compassionate thoughts that serve you.
This builds emotional resilience.
Imagine how much more resilient we would be if we took time to:
1. pay attention to our brains,
2. feel our feelings instead of resisting them or avoiding them,
3. pay attention to our inner voice.
It's time to start giving ourselves more emotional checkups.
How might your quality of life increase if you spent time building emotional resilience?
Learn more about emotional resilience and emotional first aid here.