Emotional Systems & Mental Health
- Shraddha Sankulkar
The smooth functioning of human body is possible when various body organs operate in harmony. Different combinations of body organs create various systems. Eg. The respiratory system, the reproductive system, the digestive system etc. Distress or dysfunctionality in one organ can create disorder in one or more bodily systems. That’s when one physical health gets challenged. Seeking treatment and restoring healthy functionality of the body organs/systems then becomes the need of the hour for one's physical well-being. Similarly, the smooth functioning of the human mind is possible when one’s emotional systems operate in harmony.
But where are the ‘EmotionalSystems’ located and how does it operate? Unlike other physiological systems which nature installs in us at birth, the ‘Emotional Systems’ have to be developed after one is born. Though the brain has the biochemical infrastructure which makes us feel an emotion, until a healthy external ‘socialsystem’ setting is consciously installed, the brain won’t be able to healthily process the emotions. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of early caretakers who have to take the effort to help build healthy ‘Social Systems’ for a growing child, which would eventually create scope for the child to experiences all sorts of emotions and respond to them healthily. This will help the child, firstly, to aptly identify emotion and then with parental guidance or by observational learning (through healthy role models) & thereby emotionally regulate and respond healthily. Many times children sub-consciously follow the ‘emotionalreaction’ of parents and create their own ‘emotional reaction mandate’accordingly. But what ‘emotional system’ worked for the parents may not work positively for the child who is observing the parents, as every generation lives in a different social dynamic than the earlier generation. Besides this, it's a research-based fact that abusive relationship between parents negatively influences the ‘emotional systems’ of the child. Also, early child abuse(physical, sexual, emotional (neglect, negatively comparing with other kids, bullying etc) certainly distorts the emotional system of the child which, if not corrected/healed, is unfortunately carried forward in later life, thus messing with their adult relationships and even at the workplace. Thus while‘Parenting’ children its absolutely important to be conscious of how the‘emotional systems’ are being developed in the child. Due to unavailability of parents present, the child reacts impulsively, which may or may not be healthy. The ‘social systems’ in which one mingles as a child & as an adult, eventually develops the ‘Emotional Systems’. Many adults blame their early caretakers for not providing the healthy social environment where their emotions could have been healthily groomed, but they do not realize that as adults they do have the resources and the control to set it correctly for themselves and end the blame game. ‘There should be a validity period to stop blaming one’s parents!’ So as an adult we have a choice to either ‘keep blaming our parents/early caretakers’ and justify one’s unhealthy lifestyle or ‘self-develop healthy emotional systems’ to avoid the mind from crashing due to ‘emotional instability’.
Chronic ‘Emotional Instability’ leads to self-harm, depression, loneliness and in extreme cases result into some sort of irreversible Psychopathology (Psychological Disorder). Many adults resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to restoring emotional stability by getting addicted to video games, drugs, smoking, alcohol, sex, pornography, and work. Unless the root cause is not fixed such unhealthy coping mechanisms will only be of symptomatic relief & thereby causing a relapse, once the temporary relief fades off. Thus, it is important to create one’s ‘Emotional System’ by cherry picking people and activities from one or multiple ‘Social Systems’ from around, like from one’s family, friend circle, workplace, entertainment, sports, travel, music, hobbies, meditation, religion etc. Its a research proved fact, that connecting with positive minded people, taking out time for enjoying healthy entertainment, traveling to new locations (solo or with like-minded people) & pursuing hobbies helps boost self-esteem which eventually helps oneself to heal from ‘emotional trauma’ from the past. Of course, there needs to be consistent routine, regularity, and rhythm established for the healthy functionality of the ‘Emotional System’. Also, as per one’s age, one has to keep upgrading one’s ‘emotional system’ from time to time. Whenever one feels emotionally-overwhelmed the very first thing he/she should do is to express the emotion/s to a safe trustworthy and mature person, who will offer an empathetic ear and understand the intensity of the emotion. If such a person is not around, then approaching a counselor should not be an act of shame. There is no shame in approaching a physician when one is bogged down by loose motions, then why should one feel ashamed to approach a Psychologist when one is feeling emotionally vulnerable and overwhelmed? The counselor will offer scientific perspectives to sort the emotional disturbance accordingly. If at a given point no personal or professional help is available, then writing a journal and expressing one’s emotions in it too helps. Just one should end every narrative with a positive and hopeful approach. Bodily systems/organs like the kidney, lungs, heart, stomach etc are a gift from nature to us, but by building a qualitative emotional and social system, one’s mind’s ‘nature’ should be a gift to ourselves and to others around us!