How Emotionally Healthy Are You?

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One of assessing how emotionally damaged we might be is to identify

a range of markers of emotional health and imagine how we fare in relation to them. At

least four central themes suggest themselves. Firstly Self-Love. Self-love is the quality that determines

how much we can be friends with ourselves and, day to day, remain on our own side. When

we meet a stranger who has things we don’t, how quickly do we feel ourselves pitifuland

how long can we remain assured by the decency of what we have and are? When another person

frustrates or humiliates us, can we let the insult go, able to perceive the senseless

malice beneath the attackor are we left brooding and devastated, implicitly identifying

with the verdict of our enemies? How much can the disapproval or neglect of public opinion

be offset by the memory of the steady attention of few significant people in the past? In

relationships, do we have enough self-love to leave an abusive union? Or are we so down

on ourselves that we carry an implicit belief that harm is all we deserve? In a different

vein, how good are we at apologising to a lover for things that may be our fault? How

rigidly self-righteous do we need to be? Can we dare to admit mistakes or does an admission

of guilt or error bring us too close to our background sense of nullity? In the bedroom,

how clean and natural or alternatively disgusting and sinful do our desires feel? Might they

be a little odd, but not for that matter bad or dark, since they emanate from within us

and we are not wretches? At work, do we have a reasonable, well-grounded sense of our worth

and so feel able to ask for (and properly expect to get) the rewards we are due? Can

we resist the need to please others indiscriminately? Are we sufficiently aware of our genuine contribution

to say no? Candour Candour determines the extent to which difficult ideas and troubling

facts can be consciously admitted into the mind, soberly explored and accepted without

denial. How much can we admit to ourselves about who we areeven if, or especially

when, the matter is not especially pleasant? How much do we need to insist on our own normality

and wholehearted sanity? Can we explore our own mindsand look into their darker and

more troubled corners without flinching overly? Can we admit to folly, envy, sadness and confusion?

Around others, how ready are we to learn? Do we need always take a criticism of one

part of us as an attack on everything about us? How ready are we to listen when valuable

lessons come in painful guises? Communication Can we patiently and reasonably put our disappointments

into words that, more or less, enable others to see our point? Or do we internalise pain,

act it out symbolically or discharge it with counterproductive rage? When other people

upset us, do we feel we have the right to communicate or must we slam doors and retreat

into sulks? When the desired response isn’t forthcoming, do we ask others to guess what

we have been too angrily panicked to spell out? Or can we have a plausible second go

and take seriously the thought that others are not merely being nasty in misunderstanding

us? Do we have the inner resources to teach rather than insist? Trust How risky is the

world? How readily might we survive a challenge in the form of a speech, a romantic rejection,

a bout of financial trouble, a journey to another country or a common cold? How close

are we, at any time, to catastrophe? What material are we made of? Will new acquaintances

like or wound us? If we are a touch assertive, will they take it or collapse? Will unfamiliar

situations end in a debacle? Around love, how tightly do we need to cling? If they are

distant for a while, will they return? How controlling do we need to be? Can we approach

an interesting-looking stranger? Or move on from an unsatisfying one? Do we, overall,

feel the world to be wide, safe, and reasonable enough for us to have a legitimate shot at

a measure of contentmentor must we settle, resentfully, for inauthenticity and misunderstanding?

It isn’t our fault or, in a sense, anyone else’s that many of these questions are

so hard to answer in the affirmative. But, by entertaining them, we are at least starting

to know what kind of shape our psycological wounds have and so what kind of bandages might be most necessary.

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