Though physical fitness is obvious, emotional fitness is less obvious. They do coexist in an odd relationship, wherein, on average, people who prioritize physical activity have a much lower incidence of mental health issues. Over and over, the most diehard clinicians who previously relied solely on drug therapies are recognizing the pivotal role of exercise:
However, this creates a bit of a paradox in peoples’ minds as they await the emotional boost (inspiration or motivation) in order to begin greater investment in physical fitness. It probably only ever works the opposite direction, starting with taking care of the temple, and consequently gleaning the mental health benefits. Thus, how do we “crack the code” on emotional or psychological fitness? There’s no easy answer.
I have had many periods of overwhelm in life. I get it. Up to a point, anyway. With real challenges, not imaginary phobic episodes, I am deeply sympathetic. Imaginary challenges which don’t exist and may never come to fruition, however, I view as a severe mental defect. When you allow nonsense thoughts to take up free rent in your brain, that unfitness won’t go away through thought. You have to lift some weights, go for a run, get in a cold shower, etc. You have to DO something physical to change your emotional state. Attempting to “think your way” out of a mental defect isn’t going to work. The bad software which got you here isn’t going to get you out of here. Time for a new program. Download a new app in your brain.
There are many related skills for emotional management, most of which have to do with what make-believe ideas you are willing to repeatedly expose yourself to. But again, think about this. Being stuck inside your thoughts IS more non-physical time where you are caught up inside your head. If you keep entertaining the same echo-chamber of negativity, yeah, you’re probably going to continually be an angry or depressed person. Maybe instead of getting worked up about something by which you aren’t impacted and which you don’t affect, go DO something. Move. Be physical. Change your state. DO something you can DO something about.
I had this really odd experience the other day where someone in my network showed me a quote about not letting external circumstance which don’t involve you affect your internal emotional state. Sound. Valid. I concur. This is, in fact, one of the skills on which I coach people. But the oddity was that this guy then angrily proceeded to try to convince me that I should be upset about a political topic which has ZERO interest to me. I place myself on NEITHER side of this particular debate, because, frankly, all of the typical arguments about it don’t rise above the level of 5th grade civics when I encountered and debated it vigorously. I have a third perspective on it. And I’m not arguing against the other two. I’m not arguing at all. I’m at peace. If something rises to the intellectual level worthy of my consideration, maybe I’ll take it on. But I’m too happy and fulfilled of a person to waste time on parochial talking points. The greater oddity was that I never debated and this guy still stormed off in a huff. He ambushed ME, I didn’t disagree or agree, and he stormed off. Weird? I merely reminded him of the first quote he’d just shown me, about how we shouldn’t let things we can’t affect at this moment ruin our internal state. I want to have a great day. If you don’t, that’s up to you. But you lack the capacity to ruin mine. Apparently, it didn’t click.
Once he stormed off, I wondered why I was so emotionally fit in that circumstance and he was so emotionally unfit. I proceeded to have an awesome day with my wife and kids. But in hindsight, today, I worry about him. Why was something which isn’t actually happening in reality so important in his imagination that he would ruin his own internal state over it? But it’s not just him. This is part of the human experience for us all. We let make-believe scenarios take up free rent in our heads. Those thoughts aren’t paying rent. We let them be squatters there, requiring us to pick up after them, sullying our mental living space.
Perhaps the answer isn’t to be rationalized though. Like I said, maybe we just need to pick up some resistance, do sprint intervals, DO something. The nervous and anxious and angry energy which people deploy on their supposed opponents doesn’t ever yield the outcome desired anyway. Why not just go do something physical instead? Reconnect with WHO we humans are by DOING something. You could continue to enrage yourself by inventing sick fantasies of what you think enemies might do to you. OR, you could go LIVE.
There’s clearly a desire at a deep level for all humans to DO something about their feelings. But instead of managing the feelings by changing their state, most of the time they amplify the feelings by doing absolutely nothing about their state. Lashing out at others, ambushing people who aren’t even debating you, throwing out simpleminded memes, might satisfy one little drop of dopamine balance. But ultimately it changed nothing in the physical world. So your emotional unfitness persists, and usually grows, since your “efforts” don’t have results.
I’ve been there. Up until age 23 or so. Then I outgrew indignation and offense. I don’t have the answer. But what I found was that when I manage myself through various tactics, including regularly doing physical training, people exert zero unwanted influence on my emotional state. Control what you can control. Accept what you can’t. Pray to know the difference. In so doing, you might become more fit.