are you/am I healthy?

One of my most rewarding, challenging, humbling, inspiring, all-rolled-into-one responsibilities involves the training and development of a younger, very talented, professional team. We talk a lot about what it means to be emotionally healthy. We talk, too, of what it means to lead in that capacity.

It doesn’t take but minimal reflection to discern a lack of emotional health in prominent threads in our culture and in our leaders today. No wonder we witness such dysfunction in our entities and institutions. We can see it; we can feel it. In the boasts from the well known… in the arrogance… in the disrespect… in many of the protests… in the complete lack of humility… in the pain… in the shutting down of varied perspective… in the “mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-any-more” approach. Unhealthiness is active and unfortunately well.

But hear no judgment — none whatsoever. Emotional health isn’t a journey we can pursue for others. Suffice it to say, emotional health is a decision we make to work on self. 

Hence, I took a few semi-random notes from yesterday’s team training…

  • The emotionally healthy leader makes a decision to work on self.
  • An emotionally unhealthy leader is someone who operates in a continual emotional and spiritual deficit.
  • Many are self-conscious but not self-aware.
  • Many are unaware of their feelings, how the past affects them, and how others receive them.
  • In unhealthy leaders, we oft see seeds of insecurity and pockets of shame.
  • Many hide those issues in their emotional baggage.
  • Emotional baggage is typically the undoing of the unhealthy leader.
  • The unhealthy spins truth, blames others, and excuses self.
  • Blame is the quickest way to discharge our pain.
  • Some in their unhealthiness become spiritually evasive, trying to convince others that they’re open to God and all he has for them, but they’re really using God-talk, so-to-speak, to run from him.
  • Beware of people who are quick to spiritualize everything.
  • Many of us really don’t want to do the character work it takes to address why we feel the way we do; instead, we want relief… fast, soothing ways to not feel this way anymore.
  • Unhealthy persons struggle with jealousy, comparison and often envy.
  • Jealously distorts our vision of who we’re supposed to be fighting both for and with.
  • Healthy leaders — healthy people — are contagious. 
  • Back to those seeds of insecurity and pockets of shame, we create narratives from the unhealed things in our lives. They are often untrue.
  • How do we guard against that? We need accountability — through authentic relationship. Not relationship that will only agree and affirm. Authentic relationship gently but firmly identifies those pockets and seeds. Authentic relationship encourages growth and change.
  • Thinking of the iceberg metaphor; only 10% of the iceberg is visible from atop the water. That equates to our behaviors and actions — not the 90% underneath.
  • The 90% underneath consists of our emotions, then thoughts, then beliefs.
  • Remember: mental health isn’t so much about what happens to us as much as it is about how we interpret what’s happened to us.
  • From Dr. Albert Ellis, there are 3 steps: “A” – the Activating event, which is the objective truth. Then “B” – Belief, which is whatever running story we attach to the event. And finally “C” – Consequences, which is our reaction to A + B.
  • In response, we each have 3 lives: public, private and secret.
  • Public statements are what we want people to believe. Politicians and celebrities oft live in this space. They are more about creating an impression instead of communicating truth.
  • Private statements can seem to be true at the time but change with circumstances, making them seem hollow.
  • And our secret life — our core convictions — is where our feelings, thinking and longings meet.
  • Heart work is hard work.
  • Know, therefore, that false beliefs lead to inaccurate thinking, which leads to unhealthy emotions, which lead to destructive behaviors.
  • The logic of the heart trumps thinking.
  • The greatest sources of our suffering are in the lies we tell ourselves.
  • Hence, even the crazy, radical, most illogical beliefs don’t die out in our culture today because of all of the above.

Lots to ponder this day, friends. Lots to think about. Remember: to be emotionally healthy is a decision we make for ourselves — not others. But what is good and right and true — which is clearly what emotional healthiness is — is undoubtedly contagious.