Having control over your Emotional Health is the key to living a life of your selection, rather than the life where things just randomly happen to you. It is effectively learning to become the pilot rather than the passenger in life or, if you prefer this metaphor, becoming the skilled boxer throwing artful punches rather than the punching bag limply receiving said blows. This ability to master your emotions is probably the single most powerful tool I can impart to you.
At some level each one of us lives with a certain degree of dysfunction, because as human beings we all have issues, hang ups, and problems. These things threaten to not only drag us down but to affect the course our life takes, and more often, doesn’t take.
One of the smartest things one of my college professors said to me just prior to graduation was “Live life fully in the moment. But every once in a while picture yourself as an old woman sitting in a rocking chair recalling your life. Make sure you are living the life that will make the old woman smile one day.”
At my high school reunion this past year I spoke with a girl who had become gregarious, successful, and radiated confidence. She had always been shy in high school but also incredibly bright, and while I liked her a great deal (she also benevolently allowed me to copy our math homework), it was obvious that her shy nature had prevented her from really fitting in. She told me that she hadn’t spoken one word in class until her senior year of college and that after that no one could get her to shut up. It was clear she had blossomed and come into her own, so much so I couldn’t believe THIS was the same person. I asked her, “What changed?” She said, very eloquently, “I changed my focus from my FEAR to where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be.”
I think we should all try to live that way! Why not live consciously rather than unconsciously so that one day we can look back on our journey and smile because we lived it with skill and intention rather than through the haphazard whims of the universe.
This began a line of thinking where I started to break down the factors that can help us gain control over our emotions and thus our choices and most importantly, outcomes! All of us have dreams we would like to achieve but we also all carry with us all the problems that can stand in the way of fulfilling them.
I came up with three pivotal things to master your Emotional Health in order to make the most of you life.
DIRECT YOUR FOCUS: There is an interesting saying in my Bikram yoga class, “Where the eyes go, the body will follow”. And it’s true! Wherever we focus our attention, our energy goes. Our energy is powerful because wherever we point it, that thing will expand. So it is important we focus on what we want rather than the thing that stands in the way of us receiving it. That is precisely, like my friend from high school exemplified, why we must focus on where we want to go rather than what we fear or fear will happen.
I am certain my friend from high school ran through a million of her fears of everything that could go wrong if she allowed her voice to be heard in her college classroom. She probably feared being judged or ridiculed or sounding stupid or being wrong. But all of these fears were completely in her head, not in any form of reality. The reality was she was on the Dean’s List every year and grew up to become a successful surgeon, which is by far the most elite and selective position within the medical community. In short, she was no dummy!
So when next you are in a place of anxiety over something, literally reject your fear. Tell it to buzz off or take a holiday “Where the sun don’t shine!” as they in my neighborhood in New York City. Instead DIRECT YOUR FOCUS to the place you want to go and allow your actions to take you in that direction.
WORDS BECOME THINGS: The language we use surrounding things has a very powerful effect on the meaning we give a situation as well as the emotions we feel regarding that situation. The language we use towards ourselves whether aloud or in our heads is probably the most potent of all. If you ask yourself, “Why do I never get what I want?” or “Why do I keep making the same mistakes?” you construct a much different set of emotions than if you asked, “How can I make a better choice?” or “Where’s the humor in this situation?”
When you feel those pesky negative feeling or thoughts begin to creep into your heart and mind take a breath and look at the language you’ve been using around it. Learn to take your language and put a more positive and empowering spin on it!
BODY LANGUAGE: Equally important to the language we use towards ourselves and about situations is our physical language, our Physiology. Our body language speaks so loudly that often words don’t need to be used.
When I was growing up I had a girlfriend who was very well endowed in the breast department. Kudos to her on some fierce genetics! She developed very early and disproportionally to the other girls in our class, and as a result she hunched over. She wanted to hide and so she developed very meek body language. Concurrently with this it seemed her personality became meek and she was no longer the fun, confident, carefree spirit she had been just prior to her “ big development”. Instead, she began to feel very small and developed low self esteem for a time.
Thus we can see how emotion is created by how we use our bodies. The next time you find yourself struggling with feeling helpless, depressed or negative try changing your posture. Stand up straight and tall, throw your shoulders back, you’ll find by altering your Physiology you will be able to feel stronger and make stronger, more agile decisions.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
A few years ago I was diagnosed with cystic ovaries. A condition many women have, but few really put a voice to. It’s sort of the ugly stepsister known as women’s health. I have had to undergo several surgeries to remove them as they are recurrent. I changed my diet, my lifestyle, and underwent fertility preservation in the form of freezing my eggs as preventative insurance. It was incredibly traumatic when I was first dealing with it and freaking out about the prospect of perhaps not being able to have children. But I was proactive and I have turned my health issue into a passion by helping other women change and improve their health with diet and lifestyle change.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I appreciate that I am a fun loving broad who really speaks her mind. Perhaps it’s the brassy Native New Yorker in me, but I have never been afraid to put it out there. Sass and all.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
Oh gosh, TONS! I sometimes feel like that Carpenters medley “We’ve only just begun.” I am extremely proud of my work as an artist and actress and the fact that I was able to make my sparkly girlhood dream a bonafide reality. I would very much like to land bigger parts in film and TV as well as write and produce a film at some point.
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
As Rogers and Hammerstein would say, “I am a cockeyed optimist.” In regards to nearly everything but especially when it comes to the people I love. It takes a special sort to get in my door, but once you’re in, you’re in for life. I’m sort of like the Mafia. I love HARD and sometimes allow people to stay in my life far longer than they actually deserve to be there. It takes a lot for me to want to give someone the boot from my life. More often I relegate them to a smaller role in my life, when perhaps it’s better I just say “too-dah-lou” sucker!
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Family. They are literally the best bunch of crazy apples on this planet. They have supported me through every phase of my life, empowered me, and encouraged my dreams from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper. Love them!!