Just like physical fitness, emotional fitness has many dimensions. The goal of physical fitness is to feel good and move well. The goal of emotional fitness is for us to have a functional relationship with uncertainty. This means that we become equipped with the psychological resources to navigate life’s pressures. Similarly, we need the physical resources to handle life’s physical demands.
I am by no means an expert in physical fitness, but my own physical fitness journey has taught me that there are five key areas which seem to matter:
1. Identity - Core
Our identity is like our core strength. Core strength is what allows us to perform everyday movements like tying our shoelaces or reaching for something off a shelf. Without core strength or with a very weak core, we would experience the ripples in ways we would not enjoy.
Given the power of identity (what defines us owns us), we rarely psychologically stray from our perceived identity.
2. Life stage – Endurance.
Enduring life’s ups and downs over many decades, most certainly requires endurance of spirit, mind and body. Endurance means “to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” Our life stage journey from ambition to meaning equips us in an array of ways to navigate the ever changing landscapes of our lives.
3. Values – Stability.
Our values serve as our emotional compass which influences decision making and how we spend our time, or make time for. In times of uncertainty, stability is what we crave. There are many different expressions of stability, one of those is performing activities which light us up. For example if going for a run turns your spirit on, then this may be one of the best things you could do whilst facing some challenges.
4. Emotional flexibility – Mobility.
Our emotions completely flavour every part of our experience. Most of our emotions don’t respond to facts. They respond to the meaning we give the facts. Becoming a conscious meaning maker gives us the mobility and flexibility to navigate stressful days.
5. Perspective- Strength.
Has anyone ever said to you, hey, you just need to get things into perspective! This matters a lot, because having a clean perspective gives us access to a bigger picture purview of our life and our place in it. Perspective is a great source of strength when something significantly challenging has occurred. Perspective will often help us get our eyes out of the details of the drama or problem we are facing, and into the bigger picture view of where we are headed overall.
For a deep dive into the five core principals of emotional fitness, have a read of “Courage To Be You – A Guide To Mastering Uncertainty”.