FIRST THINGS FIRST
ABOUT EMOTIONAL FITNESS
Are you reading this because mad, bad, or sad feelings are sending you down the road to regret more than you like? Happens to the best of us. Emotional Fitness Training (EFT) programs, exercises, and tips keep you on the path to the good life.
Emotional fitness is about controlling feelings. Life is often difficult and most relationships complicated; stress is common and negative feelings abound. A fortunate few manage better than others to stay emotionally fit. These have been gifted with a talent the experts call emotional intelligence. The rest of us are more or less emotionally fit; we control some feelings easily; others with more difficulty and a few control us.
Moreover, today’s media has made staying emotionally fit more difficult, even for those who come by it naturally. How? By continuously insisting you need to buff your body, shed those pounds, run that marathon, become a star, win the gold, and all the while staying on the sunny side of life.
Why does the media do this? Because pushing images of perfect bodies or constant happiness creates doubt about self-worth and that doubt creates customers.
Customers perhaps, but not always motivated users. Think of the un-walked treadmill; the not lifted weights; the broken diets; the hours not spent at the gym; the half-hearted obedience given to the high priced instruction of motivational gurus, coaches, and trainers; and finally, to the unhappy faces seen more often than smiling ones.
Reality check: Even the more perfect visions of perfection thrown at us by the media are less than perfect. Think Lance Armstrong cheating to win, Oprah’s battle with her weight, and Michael Jackson’s carving up his fac.e. Stars in the eyes of many, but at some level being controlled by feelings of imperfection. Discouraging? Perhaps, but only when you let the media’s expectations rule your feelings about yourself.
Feelings are signals designed to alert you to what is happening. Feeling signals serve us well when on target; all too often, a feeling sends the wrong signal. Why? Feelings don’t think about the difference between a broken fingernail and a broken arm. Every strong feeling announces a 911 type emergency. Moreover, while alerting you to what is happening; strong feelings are tied to the part of the brain that creates the energy to act as the feeling thinks necessary.
What does all this mean? All feelings, good and bad, want to control you and to make you act as they command. Not always a problem, but when it is, you do things you regret. Happy feelings lead to drinking too much. Fear keeps you from speaking up or making new friends.. Anger leads to physically abusing another. Sad feeling lead to thoughts of suicide.
What to do? “Think before you act.” Advice drummed into our ears as children. Wise advice, for emotional fitness is about stopping to think before you act. In fact most of us do just that; but, not always and not in every situation. Stress, unfulfilled needs, difficult relationships, pain, hunger, fatigue, and life’s harder times erode our ability to act wisely. In order to think before you act, you need six skills:
- Feeling awareness
- Feeling measurement
- Thinking about what to do
- Acting wisely on what you can change
- Letting go of what you cannot change
Emotional Fitness Training® Inc (EFTI) programs are designed to strengthen these skills. Founded in 1986 by Katherine Gordy Levine, emotional fitness was first promoted in her book Parents Are People Too, An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents. Katherine drew her inspiration from Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence, but took his theories and created practical ways for everyone to get and stay emotionally fit.
She is a wife, mother, grandmother and one time foster mother. She and her husband offered short term care for teens in trouble with the law. She is also a licensed therapist. Before becoming a foster parent, she directed the Social Service Department at Woman’s Hospital in New York and then became an Assistant Professor at Columbia University. Following her years as a foster parent, she directed mental health crisis teams in the most poverty ridden areas of NYC. She also continued teaching as an adjunct professor at Columbia University and Smith College.
Katherine has spoken at close to 60 seminars, workshops and events. A sought after guest speaker she has spoken on topics such as family support, children’s mental health, anger management, family violence, parenting, intervention, self care and emotional fitness. She has been a guest speaker with the Institute on Psychiatric Services American Psychiatric Association, American Public Health Association, NASW’s Annual Conference, and she has spoken at universities across the country, from Portland to Washington.
She is the founder of Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. and describes herself as the C.E.O. and Jill of All for that company.
Finally, a warning. The daily output on the blog is not edited beyond what word processing programs offer. As Katherine struggles with dysgraphia and sometmes her writing has more than the usual spelling and punctuation errors. Aging has made this a bit worse particularly with small words – for example not becomes now or now becomes not. Please spare yourself any added stress, if this bothers you. Life is too short and you can find good health elsewhere.