Emotional health is a state of enhanced well-being created
through highly conscious choices and practices.
It is characterized by a person’s ability to make mindful,
constructive and respectful decisions and choices in every situation
they find themselves in. A person with a high level of emotional
health takes personal responsibility for the way in which they relate
to and engage with others and the world around them.
Emotionally healthy people are conscious of themselves – their
thoughts, their emotions and their behaviours – and the impact
they have on others. They are able to recognize and overcome the
various influences and constraints that they experience (either from
others or themselves) through the choices they make and the
practices they use.
In the information era, most people
spend very little time being ‘present’.
Rather, our thoughts operate a bit like
Twitter or Facebook: a never-ending
stream of notes, recollections, to dos,
ideas and inspirations. Time moves
quickly as the mind flutters from one
thought to the next. If you’ve ever had
a day that you looked back on
wondering where it went, wondering
why you can hardly remember what
happened, you know what we’re
In life generally, but particularly in the
workplace, this kind of rapid-fire
thinking can make it difficult to be
effective. It can be hard to focus on
what is important, engage and enable
others, and work to achieve what is
expected. When you are surrounded
by mental and/or physical clutter, it is
hard to see your organisation and the
world around you with clarity.
‘Whole body’ thinking – presence – is
very different to this. It is thinking that
balances three ‘centres’: head, heart
Put very simply: ‘head thinking’ is
rational, fact-based thinking; ‘heart
thinking’ is thinking with feeling; and
‘body thinking’ is thinking based on
what we often call ‘gut feel’. Each of
us is capable of thinking in all three of
However, in the process
of developing a personality, we tend to
lean more strongly towards one of the
We have a tendency to trust the
thoughts that come from our preferred
centre over others. Conversely, we find
ourselves mistrusting or avoiding what
the other centres are telling us.
Can you identify which of the three
centres you lean towards yourself?
‘Presence’, or being ‘in the zone’, is
something we achieve when we
manage to balance our thinking
around all three of these centres.
Moving up the emotional health levels
requires more than acknowledging that
this is ‘a good thing to do’. It cannot
be achieved by simply knowing what
the levels are.
Fundamental to improving your
emotional health is becoming aware of
your automated responses and their
impact on others; understanding what
drives and motivates your behaviour
and why this is the case; and consciously choosing, and taking, development paths that move you towards
‘presence’. In short, this means taking
ever greater personal responsibility
and becoming more effective at ‘whole
These steps are all part
of the emotional health journey.
Increasing your emotional health will
reflect your ability to ‘vertically’
develop, that is, to ‘internally improve’.
As you increase your emotional health
you will be better able to see other
perspectives of the world you live in
and start to understand the
assumptions that your own world-view
is built on.
Finally today, understanding your temperament and how it affects all of these areas is crucial. Your propensities in the above areas will be driven in part by your temperament strengths and weaknesses.
BH/ Adapted/Global Leadership Foundation