I talk about emotional fitness in my upcoming book The Answer is You, due for release later this year.
Emotional fitness has a different definition to that of emotional intelligence a term that's usually used today. Emotional intelligence (or EI; sometimes EQ) is the ability for someone to recognise emotions in other people and manage their own. If you have a high degree of emotional intelligence, you can interpret emotions being displayed in other people and can control or at least read emotions within yourself.
However “emotional fitness” is the ability to be aware of your own emotions and be either resilient to them or being able to control your reactions to them, or having a certain mental detachment from them.
This takes a certain amount of self-awareness or self-regulation; you must have an internal motivation to deal with them and have empathy and social skills to deal with others.
People without this level of emotional fitness are sadly condemned to the surf of their circumstances and emotions and will be dumped over and over again by these waves of happiness and grief.
I don't feel it is possible, at least initially, to control your emotions or diminished their intensity, but it is possible to face them, communicate them and deal with them in a calm manner.
Emotionally unfit people are prone to loud outbursts, reacting to the way they feel instead of the logic and not facing the pain of emotions when it arises.
I came across an article by Nick Wignal that outlines much of what I'm trying to say here and I recommend it to your reading list. Nick separates EQ and Emotional Fitness as well.
Emotional fitness just like physical fitness takes exercise to become strong, it's a habit we must develop and build upon for our own mental wellbeing and general health. Having a keen awareness of your emotional state provides you with an opportunity to intervene and some benefits that are valuable in life such as self-awareness, empathy the ability to delay your reactions and to portray a sense of calm two others.
There are several things you can do to promote your emotional fitness. These include developing your self-awareness, taking on self-responsibility, taking the time to contemplate any decisions you're about to make, being patient and being a realist. These will benefit you because realists are often optimistic they understand that you as an individual have much more control over your life and the way you see it then pessimists who feel like it's all happening to them.
The more you practise this, the better you become at it: breathing, delaying your response, and looking at the logic behind a situation or event all help, rather than focusing on the way you feel about it. Mindfulness helps you respond to opportunities to live a calmer life with less turmoil.
In my book, I have listed these few hints on how to be emotionally strong:
Choose to enjoy your time alone. Think of other people’s points of view when you are alone.
Learn from the past. Don’t relive it, don’t give up, just try something different.
Earn every step made, and make sure there is an effort behind every gain.
Please yourself before others, but do so with empathy for all others.
Remind yourself of what you are grateful for daily.
Concentrate on those things you can control and let go of those you can’t.
Celebrate other people’s success.
Your emotions are yours, don’t project them on to others.
Your responsibilities are yours and no one else’s.
Keep going no matter how many times you fail.
Take calculated risks based on what you have learned.
Ask yourself, how do I feel? This provides you with the chance to stop and think.
Ask yourself if you can “think an emotion”: the answer will be ‘No’. You can think about an emotion or convert emotions to thought. Each can influence the other if you let them. You can control your thoughts immediately but controlling your emotions takes time and practice using thoughts. Emotions can be managed during that process. Beyond mindfulness and cognitive behaviour is the real you. The part that is making these continuous decisions is the “you” that can exercise emotional responsibility.
So, in conclusion, “Emotional Fitness” is just as important as physical fitness and when practiced consciously and regularly will enable you to handle the real dramas when they come along. Life is about taking charge of yourself and guiding yourself through both the good and bad times.
I discuss emotional fitness in my new book “The Answer is You”, see my website at www.tonysteven.com.au and sign up for updates on the release date.