Mental Health Makes You Smarter

It’s really interesting when I am told I am too emotional from people who are not emotional enough. How when someone tells me I’m embracing a human trait, it is a tactic to try and tell me that there is something wrong. Why is it that we continue to encourage others to not show emotion if it makes other people uncomfortable? We try to make people “leveled” in order to determine their success in this world. We always try to compare people whether if they are book smart or street smart, but we always miss another smart that is just as important to success.

Part of my healing was to make myself uncomfortable. Making myself uncomfortable with feeling anything and everything that provoked or triggered a part of my past that I buried so deep. To purposely put myself in situations like that to relive my pain, even for a brief moment, was a very hard choice to make. But it helped regain my strength physically and emotionally. It helped rebuild my power that I believed was taken away from me. I was able to develop my emotional intelligence, more than I have ever done before. My diagnosis forced me to figure out components of my mind, my heart, and everything in between. Without enough resources, I was determined for me to figure out who I was, who I am, who I have time to be, and define my own success from it.

When I first started seeing changes in myself after I embraced my mental health condition, different aspects of emotional intelligence started to really set surface in all things that I do. Now I am not talking about just being nice to everyone and staying positive all the time. No, according to a Harvard study, emotional intelligence goes more in depth and can be broken down into twelve elements: Emotional self-awareness, Emotional self-control, Adaptability, Achievement orientation, Positive outlook, Empathy, Organizational awareness, Influence, Coach and mentor, Conflict management, Teamwork, and Inspirational leadership.

Out of these 12 I am going to mention the top five that I am truly grateful for in my journey that has made me see myself in a bigger picture.

Emotional Self-Awareness

When we first discover something “out of the ordinary” about ourselves, it knocks us off track. We try to make sense of how we got it and if we will be identified by this one thing. I know I did. I disregarded all of my good parts and only focused on my mental health condition. More specifically, how it supposedly limited me. But you soon learn it’s really the opposite. Once you understand your condition and how it effects you, you can be proactive in how certain situations may trigger you. You can be transparent about if you display a certain emotion, you can do a particular activity to support yourself and time to move through the emotion to get back to the task at hand. You give yourself the freedom to not feel you need to hide a part of yourself in certain settings.

Emotional Self-Control

We have our stressful moments when we think little of ourselves when we are sad, vengeful when we are angry, and manipulative when we are looking to be in control. We can say that our actions that follow these emotions just happen or we can see the warning signs before it gets too far and make sure our actions do not hurt us in the end. If you are aware of your mental health and you look it straight in the face as a breakdown or reaction happens, with practice, you can allow yourself to feel, without shame. As you let yourself have that moment temporarily, you directly follow a productive self-talk to ease your way out of doing something impulsive and hold yourself accountable. When you hold yourself accountable, you are not giving the one emotion the power to take over and hinder the other emotions you have. You are able to handle your responses better without feeling you need to avoid different situations or people.

Organizational Awareness

I don’t think people really think about this element when we talk about emotional intelligence. This element is understanding you and your role in the larger picture. Whether it is with your job or in the universe, you can pinpoint where you stand and it helps to not get overwhelmed with feeling you are responsible for so many different things. It helps you not feel that you need to know all the answers to every question and you have to complete everything on your own. Mental health is a wake up call that you can not do it all. It sheds light on what benefits you and what doesn’t. This allows you to set boundaries for yourself and with other people. Mental health is your reality check, while being an outline of appreciating your lane and how to be your best self in it.

Conflict Management

Mental health can be in some ways like having a third eye. It allows you to see different perspectives from different angles. When you can see different viewpoints, you can empathize with other people who think differently than you do. With intention, you understand how it is to be misunderstood and judged by your choices or behaviors. So when it comes to a conflict, you have the ability to be a mediator or simply a person to listen to be able to understand both sides to help come up with a solution. It is easy to get along with people who think the same way as you and even easier to shut out people who don’t. So it takes a true gift to provide more insight when it is too loud on either side of individuals to hear each other out.

Inspirational Leadership

This element, in my opinion, is the most important. Within society, no matter what path we are on, we want to have a purpose. We want to be remembered or recognized for who we are while we are on this earth. It can be really hard knowing how much of an effect we have on others, but the main thing that mental health has taught me with this element is simply telling the truth. I was so afraid in letting people know about my diagnosis, but once I started just telling my story, more and more people starting speaking up too. More and more people felt inspired with a sense of solidarity that they are not alone with this. It is important to understand that storytelling and being authentic is the only way to truly connect with one another and essential in really making an impact in others’ lives. Be honest about your emotions to inspire others to be honest about theirs and sooner or later less and less people will be self-conscious in living their truth.

For those who cry more than others, I hear you. For those who get more angry than others, I feel you. For those who behave a little different from others, i see you. I do not want you to think that that there is anything wrong with you. I want you to understand where you stand with your emotions and dedicate to making your emotions one of the best part of you. Do not assume that not conforming makes you unsuccessful. Success is what you make it and being brave in every part of you will make able to get through any element you find yourself in.

Kiara Byrd