Emotional wellbeing isn’t about being happy all the time, or even about avoiding being upset, angry or anxious sometimes. It’s actually something much more useful than that. It’s about having a healthy control over our moods and feelings.
Moods are really the background against which we experience our feelings or emotions. If how you are feeling right now was represented as a painting, your moods are the dominant background colour and your feelings are the foreground details. So you can be in a “down” mood, have a happy feeling at seeing a friend in the street and them giving you some good news, but afterwards the “down” mood might be so strong that you return to feeling unhappy. You may have noticed that if you start the day in a dark mood, that can influence what you feel for quite a long time: You’ll tend to experience more negative feelings. Being in a low mood means we are less likely to have happy feelings – like finding something amusing, or being struck by something beautiful that we see. When we are really low, we can pass by the most beautiful gardens or people or objects – whatever your thing is normally – and just not notice them.
Moods and feelings are produced by our hormones – which come in many different varieties. Without hormones, we wouldn’t really feel anything emotional – so hormones are key to us feeling that we are well, and life is good.
Emotional wellbeing is being able to experience a mood, or a feeling, and then be in control of those enough to be able to make a decision about whether or not we want to carry on feeling that mood or feeling. Yes, you really can learn the ability to experience a mood, or a feeling, and then choose whether that is appropriate to you now – or whether you’d rather feel differently.
Imagine that you’re on the way somewhere and someone shouts at you angrily for no apparent reason. You might feel angry at them, you might feel surprised and a bit frightened – or you might find yourself being quite worried about them as they seem to be out-of-control.
These feelings could stay with you on your whole journey as you try to make sense of this unpleasant event that pushed its way into your life. Let’s suppose that you are going to meet an old friend who has been quite ill for some time. You’re worried about the seriousness of their condition but you don’t want to appear anxious in case this stresses them or causes them embarrassment. But you’re already anxious or worried because of the incident on your journey.
A person with emotional wellbeing will, many times each day, be aware that moods and feelings are not real – just parcels of body chemicals. They’ll also know that parcels of body chemicals can be arbitrary – so they can inappropriate to how we believe that we should be feeling. They may make us oddly jolly at a serious event – or upset when, really, there’s nothing to be upset about.
Emotional intelligence is about feeling the way you think is right – right now. And not feeling the way you think is wrong – right now.
That means lots of things: It means feeling motivated when you’re going for an interview, rather than scared. It means feeling pleased when someone does something special – and not jealous. It means not feeling angry when something goes wrong, but feeling that you need to put it right. It means feeling determined that you can be the size you want to be – and not overawed by the prospect of being on a size and weight programme.
ELK-Health are experts at supporting and advising people so that they experience emotional wellbeing as often as is possible. We offer workshops, clinics and courses for people, just like you, who are affected by many conditions.
What is the difference between emotional wellbeing and emotional intelligence?
Emotional wellbeing – as you will have read above – is a reflection of how we are. We all have lots of “wellbeings” – for example, we might have our pulmonary wellbeing (the health of our lungs) tested by having to blow into a bag, or our cardiac wellbeing tested by running on a treadmill whilst wired up to ECG monitors. There are various well-established tests that we, at ELK-Health, use to make sure our clients achieve emotional wellbeing.
If emotional wellbeing is a condition – and an indication of how we are – emotional intelligence is something quite different. It’s a skill. It is useful in life – and many organisations teach their senior and key staff emotional intelligence. It not only allows the person with this skill to control their own emotions and moods, (and so attain emotional wellbeing) it allows her or him to predict and create strategies for the emotions and moods of others. This, of course, gives the owner of this skill enormous advantages in meetings and competitive situations – like business planning, sport and performing arts.
For more information about emotional intelligence, please look here.