Psychological healthy people are not perfect. They have their share of problems, flaws, and mistakes. However, it is how they perceive themselves and how they cope with their stress and failures that separates them from unhealthy individuals.
Psychologically healthy people have the following characteristics:
· Accept themselves and others
· Like themselves
· Appropriately express the full range of human emotions, both positive and negative
· Give and receive care, love, and support
· Accept life’s disappointments
· Accept their mistakes
· Express empathy and concern for others
· Take care of themselves
· Trust others as well as themselves
· Establish goals, both short and long term
· Can function both independently and interdependently
· Lead a health enhancing lifestyle that includes regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep
Normal Range of Emotions
Do you know people who seem to be “up” all the time? These people appear to be confident, happy, and full of good feelings 24 seven. Although some people are like that, they are truly the exceptions. For most people, emotions are more like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes they feel good about themselves and others, but other times nothing seems to go right. This is normal and healthy. Life has its ups and downs, and the concept of “normal range of emotions” reflects these changes.
What is self-esteem? How do you know when someone is lacking in self-esteem? Most people answer this question by saying that they define positive self-esteem as:
· Having pride in yourself
· Treating yourself with respect
· Considering yourself valuable, important, worthy
· Feeling good about yourself
· Having self-confidence, being self-assured
· Accepting yourself
People with lower levels of self-esteem tend to allow others to mistreat them, don’t take care of themselves, and have difficulty being by themselves. In addition, they have little self-confidence and so avoid taking risks and have trouble believing that other people care about them. People with low self-esteem tend to take things personally, are sometimes seen as “overly sensitive” and perfectionistic, criticize themselves and others, and believe that they can’t do anything right. These individuals tend to have a pessimistic outlook on life, and see themselves as undeserving of good fortune.
People with low self-esteem also have a poor self-concept, meaning that their internal picture of themselves, how they see themselves, is very negative. Because of this poor self-concept, people with low self-esteem are more vulnerable to allowing others to mistreat or abuse them, and fail to be assertive. Many psychological problems have their underpinnings in low self-esteem, including eating disorders, substance abuse problems, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Where do we get our self-esteem? Most people would say from their parents, teachers, peers, siblings, religious institutions, and the media. While these factors certainly can positively or negatively affect our self-esteem, they are all external factors. Self-esteem relates to our internal self-perception. If self-esteem truly came from outside ourselves, then would need to change our environment and the people around us. This is the reason that people tend tell themselves, “If I just made more money, had a nicer car, were married, or had a more prestigious job, I would feel better about myself.” This can become a vicious cycle, leaving the person always seeking more, and perpetually unsatisfied with him- or herself. This can also lead to perfectionism and not accepting yourself.
It is generally accepted that self-esteem comes from within ourselves and is ultimately within each individual’s control. Moreover, self-esteem in not an all-or-none commodity, as most people have varying degrees of self-esteem, depending upon their stage of development, events in their lives, and their environment.
A third aspect of psychological health is the degree of emotional intelligence you possess. Emotional intelligence refers to “the ability to understand others and act wisely in human relations.” Furthermore, emotional intelligence can be broken down into 5 main domains:
· Knowing your emotions. This is considered to be the cornerstone of emotional intelligence and relates to how much self-awareness and insight you have. How quickly you are able to recognize and label your feelings as you feel them determines the level of your emotional intelligence.
· Managing your emotions. How well can express your feelings appropriately and cope with your emotions? People who have trouble coping with anxiety, distress, and failures tend to have lower levels of emotional intelligence.
· Motivating yourself. People who can motivate themselves tend to be more highly productive and independent than those who rely on external sources for motivating. The more you can self-motivate and engage in goal-directed activities, the higher your emotional intelligence.
· Recognizing emotions in others. Another aspect of emotional intelligence is the degree of empathy you have or how sensitive you are to the feelings of others and how you come across to other people.
· Handling relationships. This refers to your level of social skills. The more interpersonally effective you are and able to negotiate conflict and build a social support network, the more emotional intelligence you possess.
Of course, people have differing levels of emotional intelligence and may have higher levels in one domain than in another. People with overall high levels of emotional intelligence tend to take on leadership roles, are confident, assertive, express their feelings directly and appropriately, feel good about themselves, are outgoing, and adapt well to stress.