Signs Of Emotional Wellness–Part 2

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Emotional Wellness Part 2

This week, I am featuring a recent blog post by Dr. Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD, a licensed psychologist who recently published an article on The Huffington Post titled “7 Signs Of Emotional Wellness.”  This article addresses the seven “most salient factors psychologists find in people who are emotionally well.”

Here is Dr. Kolakowski’s list of emotional wellness factors:

1. You treat others well. 

2. You like who you are. 

3. You’re flexible.

4. You hold gratitude for your loved ones. 

5. You’re in touch with your emotions. 

6. You have meaning in your life. 

7. You value experiences more than possessions.  

On Monday, I commented on factor #3 in the list—the value of being flexible. Today, I want to share some of my thoughts about factor #2—liking who you are.

Are You Truly Fine With Who You Are?

I can recall my adolescence and early college years when I definitely was not in love with who I was.  I was constantly comparing myself with other people and not liking how I matched up.  I was also very self-conscious and I engaged in frequent negative thinking.  My goal was to try to figure out how to change myself, how to improve myself, how to eliminate any flaws I spotted—anything but actually liking myself.  And I must admit that living this way brought me a lot of anxiety, frustration, disappointment, self-criticism and other types of stress.

Then sometime during my early 30s, my lifelong crusade to fix and improve myself came to a halt.  I finally let go of trying to be perfect and trying to be like others I admired.  Basically, I stepped back for a while and looked at myself and my life honestly.  I looked at all my weaknesses (as compared to others) and also at my strengths, and when I was done I concluded that the overall package wasn’t all that bad.  In fact, I realized that I had done a lot, accomplished a good bit, had some pretty good people in my life, and that I could just simply relax and let myself “be.”

So I stopped working on myself and stopped trying to make myself into someone “different.” I also cut way back on trying to change other people.  Suddenly, the more I began to like myself—just the way I was and just the way I was not—the more I had room for others to be however they were—strengths and weaknesses included.

And I’ve got to tell you, it’s been a whole lot more fun and a whole lot more peaceful living life this way than not liking myself and always feeling desperate to make myself “better.”

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone should give up their goals for self-improvement, and I probably haven’t let go of all of mine.  But there’s a big difference, at least in my personal experience, between choosing to improve yourself and working to become more successful and not liking yourself or being comfortable with yourself all throughout the learning/self-improving process.

In retrospect, there was no good reason why I didn’t like myself for all the years that this was true for me, but at least I eventually found my way out of the darkness.  Unfortunately, some people never do, and that’s a shame.

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Ben August 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

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