Everyone wants to live a fulfilling, happy life full of good emotions and memorable experiences. If we want to be happy, we have to have a good hold on our emotions and try to be happy; it doesn’t always happen by itself!
Emotional goals come in many forms and types, and they can reference almost any emotion, too. However, the end goal is always the same: to promote our emotional well-being and feel better as people. Handling stress is part of this, but it also involves things like feeling happier, cutting sadness out of your life, managing angry feelings, and taking care of lingering resentments.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to some common emotional goals, reasons why they’re important, and how to set effective and relevant emotional goals for yourself.
Before we can dive into emotional goals, it’s important that we define what emotional wellness is. Emotional wellness is the end goal of your emotional goals, after all. Being “emotionally well” means you understand and accept the emotions that you feel on a regular basis, even if the individual feelings themselves aren’t always pleasant.
Being emotionally well involves things like:
- Persevering and living hopefully despite ups and downs in your life
- Finding good things in every day
- Feeling free to feel and express your emotions
- Not feeling defined by the emotions you might be feeling even as you accept them
If we’re to be emotionally well, we need to be able to feel the gamut of human emotions without being overwhelmed by them. Emotional wellness involves three steps: awareness, understanding, and acceptance. If we’re not aware of what we feel, we might not know when something’s wrong. If we don’t understand how we feel, we can’t know how to react to it. If we don’t accept how we feel, we can’t move forward.
As such, any of your emotional goals should have emotional wellness as their foundation. Even if the point of the goal isn’t emotional wellness, it should be maintained or worked for along the way. An example of this would be someone who has an emotional goal of falling in love. While the act of falling in love is neutral from an emotional wellness perspective, you should aim to fall in love in a healthy way in order to maintain your emotional wellness.
To make this more complicated, emotional wellness exists on a spectrum. Rarely will you find someone who is completely emotionally well at all times. You might feel emotionally stable and healthy at one point in your life, but a year later, you might feel very differently. In the same way, someone who was raised without emotional stability might be able to find it later in life through careful cultivation.
Throughout your life, you should always aim to stay as close to the center of that wellness spectrum as possible. However, a little deviation in one direction or the other is not unreasonable as long as you can handle it. A little variety and excitement is a good thing, after all.
It’s important to understand that, since emotional wellness is on a spectrum, you will always experience bad days and good days, sad days and days where you just don’t feel like getting out of bed. However, you’ll also find that you have very happy days that you look forward to and whose memories last a lifetime. Having both of these occurrences in balance is a part of life.
The goal of emotional wellness isn’t to find perfection in your emotions, and it isn’t to find a perfectly happy life with no instances of sadness. The goal of emotional wellness is to embrace and to handle your good and bad emotions in equal measure and to live a good life despite what negatives might come your way.
Even if you come into contact with some difficult times in your life, as we all inevitably do, you should be relatively satisfied with your life overall. Finding satisfaction in your life has to do with seeing the bigger picture when something bad happens to you as well as when something good happens. One argument doesn’t mean that a relationship is doomed. One relapse doesn’t mean that you can’t give something up.
Find satisfaction in your life by taking things day by day. Even when you’re going through a hard time in life, every day has its own redeeming parts and silver linings. Every day is an opportunity to do something that excites you and makes your life better. If the things you’re doing aren’t working for you, try something new! Find a new passion or hobby that makes you happy and brightens your day, no matter how small.
Here are some small tips you can use to feel more satisfied with your life:
- Linger on the positive things, not the negative
- Find ways to relieve your stress reliably
- Take time for yourself every so often
- Take responsibility for both the successes and the mistakes that you make
- Try to be more understanding of others and their situations
- Don’t keep relationships that get you down
- Only do what makes you truly happy
The above can’t be applied in all situations. “Only doing what makes you truly happy,” is all well and good to say, but if you work in a job that you hate, you can’t exactly cut out the main source of income from your life. What you can do, however, is work towards making something you love and enjoy your main source of income and eventually quit that old job that you hate!
Those who go through bad periods and emotions in their lives might wind up trying to shut them out because they feel like that’s easier than facing what they’re feeling. However, refusing to acknowledge your emotions or even deal with them is a path towards emotional turmoil. It’s important to start by acknowledging that your emotions are there, and eventually, it’s important to embrace them, too.
When you embrace the emotions that you’re feeling, not only are you given the clarity to find solutions to them and deal with them, but you can also redirect these emotions to more productive things. You can focus on different feelings and things and choose what you feel instead of letting anger, hate, or fear control your actions.
However, emotional wellness doesn’t mean you won’t experience these emotions at all. Even the most emotionally balanced people feel sad and angry from time to time. The difference lies in what you choose to do about the way you feel. Will you ruminate in your anger and fear and let that prevent you from moving forward in your life, or will you let those emotions guide you to fixing the underlying issue?
When you’re aware of and in control of your emotions, you’re better able to define your actions in a given situation, even if you’re feeling an emotion very strongly. For example, consider a young couple, both of which are angry at the other. If both of them are in control of their emotions, they can talk through the situation and keep it from escalating. If they’re not in control, they might devolve into screaming or fighting instead.
When you’re in control of your emotions, you’re in control of yourself. When you’re in control of yourself, you’re in control of any situation. Thus, being in control of your emotions allows you to handle situations better and remain in control. This can be the difference in escalating a fight or resolving it peacefully.
There are many ways to work on controlling your own emotions. Consider trying some of the following:
- Take a step back and refocus
- Breathe deeply
- Consciously relax your muscles
- Focus on the solution instead of the problem
- Think positively
- Get enough sleep
Emotional control plays a role in your mental well-being, too. When you’re in control of your emotions, you’re much better at keeping stress, sadness, and anger from overwhelming you or defining you. If you often succumb to anger or other negative emotions, people may start to associate you with them. You might be “defined” by your anger, which is never good.
One strategy to helping control your emotions is to become a “distant observer.” This involves almost looking in on your emotions from the outside by letting them exist but keeping them from affecting you deeply. You choose to let your emotions impact you, after all. Observing what you’re feeling at any given time can give you yet another view on a given situation, letting you find a solution objectively rather than while influenced by said emotions.
One of the biggest obstacles that others face when striving for emotional control is the urge to get far away from uncomfortable feelings as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, uncomfortable, unpleasant feelings are a part of life; trying to run from them or suppress them instead of accepting them is counterproductive, and can tip your emotional well-being in the wrong direction.
Uncomfortable feelings often urge us to take action when we should be thinking and analyzing a situation. They make us do things that we regret after the moment in which they’re done. Overcoming this urge to react to uncomfortable emotions will help you control your emotions much better. When you can learn to let an uncomfortable emotion exist without acting on it, you have much more power over yourself and your reactions to any situation.
That being said, accepting uncomfortable feelings isn’t easy. They stress us out, and our instincts tell us to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Our natural instincts evolved to alert us when to run from a dangerous situation, and our emotions work on the same basic principle. However, since we no longer live the same way we did thousands of years ago, these instincts tend to be more harmful than helpful nowadays.
One of the reasons why we have so much trouble keeping control of our own emotions is because it’s hard to accept that there are some things we just can’t control. There will always be things that are just too far outside your comfort range or things that just rub you the wrong way. The key to controlling these issues is, ironically, accepting that they’re outside of your control.
When you admit that something’s out of your control and accept that as reality, something wonderful happens. You no longer have to worry about the situation anymore, since there’s nothing you can do about it. Keep in mind that this isn’t an excuse to abandon things that you can control, but just don’t want to bother with.
When you stop trying to control circumstances and situations that you cannot control, you start seeing the parts of the situation that you do have control over, such as your own thoughts and emotions. This frees you up to change your reaction to the situation and lets you think about your best course of action more clearly.
Giving up control over a situation isn’t easy. Often, it involves us feeling hopeless after trying every possible solution we can think of. However, if you can learn to tell when a situation like this is hopeless right away, you can get a better idea of when you should relinquish control and when you shouldn’t.
Emotionally Healthy Relationships
Building an emotionally intimate relationship is an emotional goal of many single individuals. However, because a relationship depends on two parties, you need to depend on your partner to help maintain your emotional balance, too. This can be trouble if your significant other has emotionally destructive habits.
Fortunately, if you both can work things out together, there are many benefits to being in a healthy relationship. These relationships don’t have to be romantic, either; any relationship that healthily benefits both parties is great for your emotional well-being. However, the opposite can be said for unhealthy relationships, too.
Most emotionally healthy relationships are defined by things like the following:
- Common goals
- Mutual respect
- Honesty and trust
- Commitment to each other
- Open communication
- A sense of “us”
Not every relationship in your life will be a healthy one, just as not everyone’s perfect. However, some will be higher on the emotional wellness scale than others, and some will be worth working on so they can move up the scale, too. If someone in your life is important to you, but they don’t present you with a healthy relationship, you may be able to fix it through the understanding and hard work of both parties.
Do keep in mind that conflict is a normal part of a healthy relationship. However, not all types of conflict are good. Arguments and disagreements will happen, and addressing them in a healthy way, or at least making up respectfully after a fight, is a very important part of keeping a relationship healthy.
If you refuse to deal with disagreements when they happen, built-up resentment will eventually drive those in the relationship apart. What’s more, if you’re practiced with talking things out regularly, it will be much easier to take these disagreements in stride when they do happen.
Sometimes, though, if the other person in the relationship isn’t willing to change or fix things, these relationships might be more harmful than helpful to you. There are times when leaving a relationship or ceasing contact with someone is better off for your emotional well-being in the long run, but this is entirely up to you to decide. You are the only one who can determine what’s best for you, after all.
If you suspect you might be in an emotionally unhealthy relationship with someone, watch out for the following cues:
- Overly-critical comments or behaviors
- Inflexibility and unwillingness to compromise
- Excessive neediness or distance
- More conflicts than connections
- More negativity than positivity
Emotional Wellness Strategies
Besides what we’ve gone into in detail above, there are many more little strategies you can use to keep yourself emotionally well. In the same measure, there are things you should avoid that can pitch your emotional wellness into jeopardy. Thus, it’s important to develop good habits for maintaining your emotional wellness, as you might need to work a little harder at other times than others to keep things in balance.
Keeping your stress levels downplays a huge role in your emotional and mental well-being. Stress is the bane of many things, such as productivity, happiness, and even bodily health. As such, keeping stress down is important to the health of your entire self, not just your emotions!
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to avoid stress altogether. We may come across a few special times in our lives when we feel completely stress-free, but these moments are rare and difficult to achieve. While these stress-free breaks are valuable, learning how to manage your everyday stress properly is even more important.
When the stress really feels like it’s piling up and you need to escape, there are ways to do so. If you have friends and family that support you, they can be instrumental in managing stress, but the best way to put stress behind you is to actually put it behind you! Taking a short vacation is an excellent way to recharge and put some distance between you and your stressors.
Having good coping mechanisms for stress, however, can make it so you don’t need to take these vacations as often as you might otherwise. While the stress-relieving properties of a vacation are great, a vacation uproots your work and many other parts of your life, which can cause compounded stress when you return. It’s sometimes better to just manage the existing stress in the first place.
Some other ways to manage your stress through smaller, everyday habits include:
- Manage your time better
- Exercise more often
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy foods
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Stay positive
Thinking positively might seem like a drop in the ocean if you’re going through a tough time in your life, but actively trying to think positively enough can actually change your way of thinking. It’s a “fake it until you make it” type of scenario where if you do it enough, it can have a real effect. Studies even suggest that this type of thinking can make you feel better physically, too.
It can be tough to cultivate this type of thinking if you’re feeling depressed or if you tend to be a natural pessimist. However, just taking a moment to see the upside of a situation every day can quickly start to change your thinking.
Make sure to tell yourself that your negative thoughts are not good for you. Noticing the negative isn’t wrong, per se, but dwelling on it and ignoring the good in a situation can quickly make it feel like you’re drowning. Treat yourself well, and go easy on yourself. Treating yourself harshly and thinking badly of yourself will only increase your stress and your sad feelings.
If you can’t manage to think positively, try doing things that make you feel positive instead. This can be something like listening to some uplifting music that you like, taking your favorite walk through the park, playing with an animal that has a special place in your heart, or even just talking with friends or family.
Laughing more works in the same vein as thinking positively does above. Laughing has a measurable effect on the body, reducing your stress and releasing endorphins that can boost your mood. Unfortunately, we don’t always feel like laughing. It can feel downright wrong sometimes when we’re going through a tough time.
Fortunately, with the multitudes of resources available on the internet to us now, finding resources to help us cheer up and laugh is easier than ever. It takes only seconds to find a comedy special or cute video online that can instantly lift our spirits. If that’s not enough for you, think about investing in some books you find funny or looking for some humorous friends who are good for cheering you up.
Try Something New
Trying something new can feel like the thing you least want to do when you’re feeling battered, stressed, or depressed. After all, trying something new can require effort, forethought, and stress that you might not feel up to when you’ve already got it tough. However, believe it or not, keeping yourself busy is the enemy of boredom and anxiety.
Being bored or depressed with not enough to keep you occupied is a bad combination. When you end up in a situation like that, dangerous habits like drinking, overeating, or drug abuse can become risk factors. It’s best to avoid those and similar situations whenever possible.
The new thing that you try doesn’t have to be game-changing or stressful. If you’re nervous, try something small at first, like visiting a new restaurant, trying a new food you’ve always wanted to try, or visiting a new clothing store. Your first foray into the new and exciting doesn’t have to be a zip line ride through the jungle!
If you’re looking to pull yourself out of a slump or just improve your mood overall, try setting a goal to try something new weekly or monthly. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you can even set a goal to try something new daily! It doesn’t have to be difficult to try something new; something you can do from home, like starting a new television show or visiting an online chatroom, is easy and accessible if you need something at the last minute.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is an excellent way to keep track of your emotions and thoughts over a long period of time. If you’re going to therapy to help with your emotional well-being (another excellent option), your therapist might actually recommend that you keep a journal. Writing your experiences and feelings down not only helps you remember them, but it helps you more accurately track your progress as you improve.
Seeing your own improvement through your journal can be an enormous source of inspiration and hope on its own, but when combined with other activities like therapy, a journal becomes a truly powerful tool.
Our emotional goals, for the most part, center around feeling good and feeling healthy. Fortunately for us, there are many ways to go about doing that! The tips in this guide should help you get started with setting your own emotional goals, but there are many different places you can go from there. Whether your goals involve simply feeling happier or changing your whole outlook on life is entirely up to you, after all.
No matter what your emotional goals are, as long as they involve maintaining or improving your emotional well-being, they will more than likely be healthy, attainable, and valid. Just remember that you are the one who’s in charge of your own emotional state. If something doesn’t seem right to you, you have the power to change it for the better!