Every New Year’s Day gives people hope. I think it is in the air – vibes of a new start, vibes of new goals and many new desires for a new us, a new life and even a new world. We all want the good to increase and the not-so-good to shrink until it fully disappears and we wish that the new year will be full of health, wealth, love, friendship and happiness (what else is there?).
If you have noticed, I have listed health fist. Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way that health is not something should be taken for granted.
There are two aspects of health – physical and emotional. Your physical health includes your heart, blood, skin, weight, bones and viruses and can be controlled by medication, food and exercise. Your emotional health cannot be easily managed with medication, though most sufferers today would like to think it can, a phenomenon I call “wishful sinking”.
Still, our emotional health can be promoted and supported just like the physical health can be. Think of your emotional health like a muscle. If you work on it, it gets stronger and if you do not work on it, it gets weaker. This is the same for our emotions. If we work on our emotional health, we get stronger and if we do not, we get weaker.
There are 4 aspects of emotional intelligence, the mastering of which will bring every person wonderful success, contentment and happiness:
- Being aware of and recognizing my own feelings
- Accepting and managing my own feelings
- Being aware of and recognizing others’ feelings
- Helping and supporting others with their feelings
To master emotional intelligence, it would be wonderful if we could work on all these things at the same time. However, they are listed in order of emotional development, so first we need to be aware of and recognize our own feelings and only then can accept and manage them, and so on.
In the process of developing our emotional intelligence, we need to know what our emotional rights are. We need to give ourselves permission to feel love, permission to fear and permission to be.
Society seems to be demanding that we control our feelings to the point of suppression and that we follow various rules, even if those restrict and frustrate us. Today, I want to kick-start your emotional self liberation and give you the right to feel and to be true to yourself.
Go through the emotional bill of rights below and check if you know your rights and if you exercise them.
My emotional bill of rights
- I have the right to feel – Ask yourself often “How do I feel?” and remember that every feeling you have is valid. Not all feelings are fun and healthy, but they are all valid. Remember, if you are aware of your feelings, you are practicing level one of emotional intelligence.
- I have the right to fear – We all have instincts that tell us to stay away from certain situations and people. Unfortunately, not everyone is “tuned in” and listens to the body’s messages of fear. If you feel uncomfortable or afraid, ask yourself, “What is my body telling me?” and learn to trust your instincts. Learn to say, “I do not feel comfortable with this”. It will help you lower the level of fear from strong fear (panic) to less intense fear (uncomfortable).
- I have the right to want – Wanting is the driving force in life, so give yourself the permission to want love, happiness, money, friendship, luxury, comfort and so on. Anything you want is right and OK. Whenever you are overwhelmed and stressed, in conflict or confused, ask yourself “What do I want?” To increase your awareness to your desires, write a list of 100 things you want to do in your lifetime. This is an important list that everyone can benefit from in their process of mastering their emotional health.
- I have the right to be safe – when someone hurts you, it is not right. Remember, your body is yours and no one is allowed to touch it in any way that you consider inappropriate. Even if your doctor touches you in a way that embarrasses or hurts you, you have a right to ask the question that will make you feel safe in the hands of your doctor. It is parents’ responsibility to give their kids a feeling of safety. Kids must know they are protected. They must know they have food and shelter and someone will keep them safe from harm. Ask yourself, “Am I safe?” and “What do I need to do to feel and be safe?” If you exercise your right to feel and learn to trust those feelings, you will know when you are not safe and declare your safety right.
- I have the right to say “no” – People will have expectations from you and ask you to do things that are not necessary good and healthy for you. Remember your right to say “no” without explanation. When you say “no”, you exercise your right to fulfill (or not) others’ expectations. When you explain, you are inviting the others to convince you to change your mind.
- I have the right to protest – You have the right to expect people to treat you fairly and with respect. If people discriminate against you, are rude to you, judge you or act in disrespect toward you, you have the right to protest. Protesting does not need to be loud or rude (so you will not be considered disrespectful too). It can be assertive and calm. Learn phrases that will allow you to protest in a calm and assertive way, like “I do not like it when…”, “I am not happy with the way you are treating me” and “I had different expectations”.
- I have the right to ask for help – We live in a world in which doing things ourselves is impossible. We need a partner to have kids, we need teachers to learn new things and we need support to do hard things. We all have the right to ask for help. If you feel things are hard, ask for help. Asking for help will not make you weaker, but stronger. People like to help, so give them the opportunity to do so.
- I have the right to make mistakes – We all make mistakes. A person who never makes mistakes is not doing anything. Since we are not fortune tellers, it is very hard for us to predict always what will be the right thing to do. We always do the best we can with what we have. Life is trial and error. We never know what will be the outcome of our actions, so there is no point dwelling on the mistakes and no point trying to explain and justify them. We all make mistakes. It is your right too, so exercise it and move on.
- I have the right to hope – Hopes are the friends of wants and we need them to keep ourselves motivated. It is your right to hope and wish for a better future. Do not allow other people to diminish your hopes and plant seeds of fear and pessimism in your heart. If people say “it won’t work”, “you’ll never be able to do it” or “it is impossible”, remember that you can always exercise your right to hope that it will work, that you will be able to do it and that it is possible. People who exercise their right to hope handle difficulties and challenges better, they heal better and are more creative and more successful, because they do not give up easily.
- I have the right to change – Many times, people complain when we change. Sometimes, they complain about the way we are, but still get very upset when we change our ways. Other times, people prefer us to stay just the way they remember us from 20 years ago (“when we were dating”), but we do change. We always change and we have the right to change. Our ability to change and accept it is important in building our emotional strength. Remember, you have the right to change the way you look, to change your mind, to change you desires and to change your professions. Change is a natural process in life – embrace it. Do not allow people to complain that “you are not the same person I knew when we got married”. Of course you are not and that is a good thing.
- I have the right to express myself – You have the right to express yourself in any way you like. You can state your ideas and thoughts verbally or in writing. Some people find ways of expressing themselves through art. Other people might think your ideas and thoughts are silly, but that never stopped Galileo or Gandhi from expressing their ideas.
- I have the right to be by myself – Although we all need company, having the space to be by ourselves is our right and we can exercise it any time we want. Take the time to be by yourself, to think clearly without external influences. Schedule some time off in your weekly routine and protect your right to have time off to rest, to be by yourself, to think only of yourself and to satisfy your own needs. When other people have demands on your time, be assertive and remind them of that right. Use words like “I need time to think”, “I need to be by myself now” and “I need some time off”.
- I have the right to be special – I guess the need we all have to be unique is something that stands out and is not so easy for others. Yes, it seems easier to relate to people who are not different and extreme in their ideas, thoughts or behaviors. However, life would be the most boring thing if we were all the same. The fact that most people think, feel or behave in a certain way does not mean it is the right way. It does not mean you should think, feel or behave that way, because you are not them. You are special, no matter what other people think about you. You are special because you are the only person in the world who has gone through your life and who is living in your circumstances. No one has your name and your parents and your siblings and your house and your health and all the rest of it. If people push you to conform and be like “everyone else”, remind them you are not like others. You are you. If someone says “Why can’t you be like your brother/sister/John?” remind them you are not your brother/sister/John. Keep your right to do things differently. Being yourself may be a challenge, but it is the only person you can be.
You emotional health is greatly depended on your ability to exercise your rights and you are in fact, the only person who can do that.
When we talk about children, it is parents’ responsibility to teach their kids these rights and help the kids exercise them, even if it is be hard sometimes (like teaching them the right to say “no”…).
If you want the next year to be better and with strong health, exercise your emotional rights. If you want your kids to be healthy and feel strong and confident – teach them those rights too.
For a healthy and strong year!