Hello Everyone .

Everyone want their kids to me next Einstein or Steve Job or Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg or Sunder Pichai or Indira Nooyi or Narayan Murthy etc etc and that’s what drive parents to push their kids towards the technical knowledge . Recent Advertisement ‘ White Jr ” for pushing children to learn Coding are getting more popular than ever before.

Surprisingly , no one is talking about systematic development of ‘ Emotional Health’ .__ Joe Sehrawat

It is something which is left to all of us to learn on our own. Also no one bothers to check what we are learning and whether it is the right way to learn or not ?. Everyone around us is bothered about the marks obtained in Maths, Science or in Computer Science etc etc. I stumble across a book “How to Develop Emotional Health “by Oliver James. It’s a must read for all parents and would be parents.

I have taken a deep dive in the work done by Oliver James in this area and summarised this beautifully written book on self improvement. Lets take a deep dive into my book notes :-

INTRODUCTION :–It is something that you are experiencing now. Learn to feel comfortable in your own skin. Self-awareness is important. You are adaptable yet authentic. You have a strong ethical code. You are spontaneous in nature. Your emotional health allows you to feel resilient. The fact is that most of us are not able to have perfect emotional health all the time. Those who have stressful jobs rarely lead good and stable emotional health. Emotional health is different from mental health. Happiness is indeed a fleeting state. Emotional health has little to do with genes or hereditary factors.

There are 5 key elements of emotional health. They are 1) insightfulness (ability to understand); 2) living in the present (have your own identity); 3) fluid 2 way relationships (interact freely); 4) authenticity (live by your values); 5) playfulness and vivacity (approaching life with joy). It is certainly possible to achieve all 5 of the above. Being cared for when you are young is an important component of emotional health.

Once you passed early adulthood, your likelihood of being mentally healthy improves with each year.Oliver James

INSIGHTFULNESS (ability to understand ) :– You should recognize the early signs of things that reduce emotional health. Our present is sometimes shaped by our past. For instance, we can unlearn bad habits taught by our parents. How you were brought up by your parents will have an impact on how you raise your future kids. Your childhood has a big impact in your adulthood. The ‘fight-or-flight’ hormone might be present in kids who were abused in the past. It is important for the mother not to develop the fight or flight mechanism during pregnancy as it might affect the child’s development in future. Parents need to be secure in their love during the early stage of development. By 6, you are largely influenced by your upbringing. A human’s IQ and personality does not change much over time. Life is such that one thing leads to another. For instance, your disposition as a kid might attract a certain group of friends. Most people take careers as a reflection of our parents, or as a response. Sometimes, you need to be aware that family traditions might be passed down. However, this can be mitigated and you should have a mind to think for yourself. The eldest sibling is usually less risky taking and more obedient. The youngest sibling typically has to innovate and be different to get attention. It is easier to correct if the influences occurred when you were 6. If it had occurred when you were younger, it would be more difficult as you will have difficulty recollecting. It is not advisable to feel that your traits are pre-determined.

If you can gain an accurate knowledge of how you were cared for as a child and develop insight into how it governs your present experience, it can transform who you are. – Oliver James

By age 30, our proneness to common emotional problems, like depression or anxiety, is well-established. If you have already suffered them by then, you are liable to do so again. Our main tool for change for the better is insight, especially about the influence of the past upon our present.Oliver James

To the extent that you have simply inherited a damaging family culture, and depending on your capacity to feel safe to challenge your parents in your mind, you can call that culture into question. —– Oliver James

LIVING IN THE PRESENT (have your own identity ):—- A Sense of Self. It is crucial to know who you are and build a strong identity. If not, you must want to seek others’ attention. In fact, you may want a lot of achievements and make yourself extremely busy just to distract yourself from loneliness. As a baby, we are completely vulnerable and powerless. We hate that feeling. The carer, when feeding the baby, can have a strong impact on the emotional health of the child. His actions can confer physical sensations in the baby. Some people can have seeming tumultuous pasts but yet exhibit strong emotional health. Absence of care by both parents can lead to a weak identity in a child. The need is to know your child intimately and know their needs. Serious dissociation can lead to depersonalization etc. The earlier the child is maltreated, the largely the impact in his adult life. Having a strong parental figure is proven to help build resilience for the child later on in life. Some people with weak selves might end up shooting their caregivers. Therapy and medication can help. However, there are other ways to address a weak self too. For instance, picking up a hobby or finding an interest helps. Some people seek success in their adult life so as to compensate for feeling helpless when young. However, if you are not careful, your true self may not be expressed if you are busy at work etc. Some people like the thrill of being associated with being called a certain position. Weak selves tend to vivacious in their lives. However, they often neglect the questions which are deep etc. Their vivacity in life may be counterfeit in nature. Community and belonging can aid people with a weak self. We are often identified by what we do at work. Never express your individualism by your possessions. Personality disorders are more common among highly individualistic societies, like America. There are flaws to collectivism, but at least it helps a weak-self live in a developed country. Doing things with your friends improves mental and emotional health. One can also gain identity via religious activities. There is always the possibility of volition even in dire situations.

However, hard work and exceptional achievement can provide a self, and be every bit as addictive as heroin, producing electrochemical changes in the body which compensate for infantile lacks.Oliver James

For the weak-selfed person, being an individual is hard. You have to decide who to be, what to do, and if you lack self, that is a huge demand, making resorting to drugs or alcohol or a workaholic lifestyle more likely. – Oliver James

FLUID, TWO WAY RELATIONSHIP (interact freely):—- People can bring you down with their negative personalities etc. As a kid, we can experience either secure or insecure types of attachment. We may be rejected by our carer and this can have an impact on our well-being. Remember, hell is not the other people. Do not let money be your lodestar. For people who have been abused, they are afraid of getting into relationships with people. To them, relationships might seem dangerous. They are afraid of even being touched or hugged. Being very successful in your life can draw people to you. However, these are often just acquaintances and are unlikely to be your friends. If you have no secure figure in your childhood, you might not trust any adult again. However, a stable relationship with a therapist might make things better. Kids from broken homes also tend to suffer. How can I improve my relationships? Be emotionally healthy before deciding to have a kid. Compare with your childhood to see the differences between your parents traits and spouses’ traits. Separation will be very damaging for your children. It is proven by research that being in a lousy relationship could be better than not being in any. Learn to seek more intimacy. Modern people have more facebook friends, but less true friends. You need to distance sex from relationships. Try to connect with strangers and be nice to strangers around you. Sex is definitely not companionship in any way. For emotionally healthy people, the other people are like heaven.

Because our relationship with our opposite-sexed parent is so influential in determining what we find attractive in others, we have a lamentable tendency to repeat the past, picking partners who duplicate the behaviours of our parents. – Oliver James

AUTHENTICITY (live by your values): —- Many people are satisfied with their jobs and do not want to see progress. This is good. If you know what enough is, you can be contented. Sometimes, being too ambitious can bring on undue stress. Being calm and self-confident can exude beauty as well. As parents, all you want is for your kids to be happy. Learn to stay authentic in both your education and career. If you know what you enjoy, you can just focus on that and not focus on everything to burn yourself out. Good values must be communicated when young. The message and values sent must be consistent throughout. Being too angry or forceful to children might backfire. If the child identifies with the value more himself, chances are the good behaviour will last. Let the child have the freedom to choose. Whatever a parent says has to be authentic or else the kid will be able to detect it. For high-achievers, it is more difficult to retain good level of emotional health. Coercive methods can back-fire in the future when bringing up a kid. Americans tend to be more narcissistic. Do not live your life like a robot. In some European countries, it is understood and is ingrained in the culture that one should not simply seal the limelight. Learn to play down differences in ability and personality. It is important to understand your goals/motives at work. If you follow a goal your parents set for you, it is more of an extrinsic goal. You will be caught on the hedonic treadmill if you don’t know when to stop. You need to learn how to navigate office politics, because it is inevitable. Learn to form alliances with those who are with you. You need to work smart and learn to deal with others. Sometimes, it is necessary to wear different facades at the workplace. It is necessary, once in a while, to do things that are not pleasant.

When it comes to achievement, they have a well-developed concept of enough. Professionally, they are satiable. They do not constantly compare themselves to others, or feel the need to keep up with the Joneses. Oliver James

A clear sign of identification has occurred is when someone does things throughout life because they enjoy them, like hobbies. At its best, they manage to build a career or find a job based on these interests.Oliver James

In the context of work, people with intrinsic motives and goals have been shown to seek intellectual fulfilment, creative self-expression and a sense of mastery in completing tasks. The extrinsic look for evermore money and professional prestige. – Oliver James

Yes, it helps to be competent at the tasks that the job requires, and to be a hard worker, but without office political skills, you will be lucky to thrive. Oliver James

We all develop a variety of personae to deal with others, in all situations, including in family life. At the office, an emotionally healthy person will consciously develop different masks to be put on when dealing with different people. – Oliver James

PLAYFULNESS AND VIVACITY IN PARENTING (approaching life with joy):—-It is important to make it fun during the parenthood stage. Learn to create something new. A loving partner might not be ideal. Learn to understand your own situation. Motherhood can improve a woman’s emotional health. Becoming a parent helps calm you down. You need to care for someone else. For this to happen, you need to have excellent emotional health too. Everything feels good again. How we parent is affected by how we were cared for when we were young. Parenting has a key role in nurturing a genetically difficult baby and making them normal. Nurturing is crucial for a child. There are three types of mothers: 1) Hugger; 2) Organizer; 3) Fleximums. For a Hugger, financial constraints will cause her harm as she will not able to offer excellent care on the child. Do not simply choose a man for his attractiveness, but you must think whether he is capable of raising a kid. Divorces are ugly and often the person ends up committing the same mistake. Your childhood will affect who you see as being attractive in future to be your partner. A martial therapist can be useful indeed. Try to acknowledge and identify traits of your parents in your partner.

FINAL NOTE : Meeting the Challenges. You have to live more in the present. Learn to be more authentic and insightful. Be playful and vivacious. Success is ever partial. You cannot be completely emotionally healthy, but you can always strive to improve your current state. You must know which branch you are stepping on. If you had a negative childhood, find ways to stop it from affecting you. Do not take the abuse too personally. Learn to take stock of what you have. It usually takes a major event to wake people up. Learn to practise mindfulness and meditation. Vow to start living now and start over. Picture yourself in a symbolic grave. Sometimes, books can be a revelation on its own. Refrain from substance abuse as it might affect your mental health. If you have serious emotional health issues, seek help. Use CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Hope for the best, expect the worst.

If only we could be satisfied with what we have got, materially, we could start to focus on the other stuff, which is so integral to emotional health: our intimates, our friends, our communities and hobbies, as well as more profound experiences, like enjoyment of the arts, or spending time in beautiful natural places, or spiritual pursuits – in fact, whatever rocks your inner boat. – Oliver James

Let me know what you think? I’d love your feedback. If you haven’t already then sign up for a weekly dose just like this here.

Get in touch… — JOE’s LIFE SKILLS LAB/Joe Sehrawat


Main Image Credit : Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


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