What it means to be “well”

Tami-Lee Duncan

It is a common misperception that “well-being” involves the absence of ailment. That you are mentally healthy if you are happy all the time and are never afflicted with feelings of depression, anger, sadness, or anxiety. But this is simply not true. Human beings have feelings- a wide range of them- and these feelings will inevitably include
emotions that aren’t pleasant. Yet, this is not necessarily an indicator of a
problem- it is an indicator of humanity.

So often, I’ve seen clients and friends alike, resist and deny their negative feelings, afraid that acknowledging them gives them power or that sharing them is an admission of weakness. My experience has been the opposite. The more we resist what we feel, the more power those feelings have. It’s like the elephant in the room of the mind- you
can’t stop thinking about it. As well, it is often harder to be honest in the
face of uncomfortable emotions and admitting these feelings and being willing
to experience them is an undeniable sign of strength.

We should not fear or judge our emotions. We should attend to them and learn from them. They may not always be comfortable, but they provide us with important information and can be a useful tool for helping us navigate through our lives. If we can attend to our feelings, with honest reflection, without judgment or fear, we stand to learn a lot about our situation and ourselves. Anxiety, for example, is often just our body’s way of signaling to us that something isn’t quite right. Attuning ourselves to the underlying cause of this anxious discomfort may provide invaluable information that will help inform your decisions and potentially lead to resolution of the problem. I remember a client who felt physically ill whenever she went to work. After seeing several physicians who were unable to provide her with a medical explanation for her illness, she was referred for psychological services. Through honest self-reflection, she was able to acowledge that she was feeling dissatisfied with her work and was very uncomfortable with her aggressive manager, who would often berate her in front
of her colleagues. This awareness gave her the power to choose a different course and she was able make changes in her life that dramatically improved her condition.

A mentor of mine once said, “I don’t worry about the people who acknowledge their issues. I worry about the people who don’t. Ignorance is where the real risk lies”.
Let us strive to be honest and give ourselves permission to experience whatever it is that we are feeling.

 

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