Mental health in the work place: Levels of Emotions and Emotional Maturity – Indicators of mental well being.

WMD 1Most of the working population across the globe spend most time of their wakeful hours of life at workplace! It is very important that one loves their work atmosphere and more importantly, their work. Work related tension and unhappiness can often magnify with time and consume most of the mental resources of a person, pushing them down a spiral of unhealthy mental well-being, which ultimately shows up as poor performance at work and largely, in their life. On the other hand, a happy employee ensures a happy employer and this happiness translates the surroundings and life into positivity.

World mental health day 1Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017. ‘World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health’.

This article addresses the diversity of emotions exhibited by people and also attempts to ascertain the reasoning behind the same. A casual glance at the newspapers tells us stories of human interest that at times astound and even baffle us: A happy traveller who gets married to her favourite railway station at one end of the spectrum, a hurt student who committed suicide due to a punishment given by his teacher, at the other end.

People are different, depending upon their emotional quotient and temper. A given instance can elicit different variety of emotions among different individuals. During childhood in school, we have been taught about various forms of emotions as sad, sadder, saddest or synonyms like happy, elated, overjoyed, but do we really understand what causes these feelings, and why we differ in our reactions to the same event? Is it a case of “One man’s bread being another man’s poison” or is there another explanation as to why we feel the way we do, and somebody else does not?

Human brain is complex structure made of trillions of neurons, interconnected through synapse – the neural connections which are regulated by chemicals known as Neuro-transmitters. These chemicals and connections ultimately decide the emotional quotient of a person, which in-turn are dependent on two important factors: the genetic makeup of an individual and secondly the environmental influence. Childhood experiences tremendously influence the emotional quotient of an individual. But, its also a well accepted fact that ‘People change’! This secondary change noted in people are often influenced by their spouse and the work & work atmosphere.

Robert Plutchick’s wheel of emotions lists: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Disgust, Surprise, Trust and Anticipation., as the main 8 emotions.

“Feelings” are different from Emotions, since the latter involve more thought and thus are more intellectual. For example, curiosity or frustration do not involve deeper thought and are almost instinctual. Albert Wellek said this about deep emotions: “Love, friendship, faithfulness are emotions of the heart; they concern, involve and engage a man in his very nature; they may move, touch, stir, or shake him and even change or transform him in his identity. On the other hand, anger aroused by a trifle or by hurt, is superficial and shallow, not matter how intense.”

Emotions play an important role at work place. The ability of an individual to adjust, adapt and stay happy or cope up with the pressures largely depends upon the levels of emotions displayed by an individual.


Factors that contributes to the Levels of Emotions

  1. Inadequate Concern for Others: People who fail to mature emotionally beyond a tantrum prone and blame absolving stage.  Adults who demonstrate inadequate concern and empathic appreciation for others tend to have troubled, conflict-filled relationships with others. They may fail to appreciate that it is their own empathic failings that are causing a large number of such problems, and think instead that other people’s failings are to blame. If some people demonstrate an inadequate concern for others’ feelings and needs, other people react so strongly to those feelings and needs that they end up harming themselves in the process. The problem typically has to do with how a person is in the habit of judging themselves. Healthy people are attentive to the needs and desires of others, but retain their own center of judgment.
  2. Overly High Concern for Others: Some people, however, get hung up on what other people are thinking and spend all their time worried about being negatively evaluated by those other people. People who demonstrate an over-regard for the opinions of others tend to set themselves up to be anxious and worried. Over-concern for others is related to self-esteem, as your self-esteem tends to be low when you are always worried about being judged by someone else.
  3. Poor Emotional Coping Skills: Some people’s problems are not so much that they pay too much attention to what other people think, but that they don’t know how to manage the intense feelings they experience when they are rejected. These people tend to become overwhelmed by their feelings and end up “acting out” various emotion- motivated extreme behaviours that may result in harm (to themselves or to others), or feelings of embarrassment, shame, humiliation or regret. They may feel betrayed by friends, lovers or family members and become intensely angry with them. They may start fights or smash things. They may take drugs or consume large quantities of alcohol. They may become abusive and may threaten suicide. Such people typically don’t know how to calm themselves very effectively, and might not choose to do so in the heat of the moment if they did.

Depending upon the extent of levels of emotions an individual display, the person may fall into the 6 Levels of Emotional Maturity from lowest to highest,

Level 1: Emotional Responsibility.

When a person reaches level one of emotional maturity, then he or she realizes that he or she can no longer view his or her emotional states as the responsibility of external forces such as people, places, things, forces, fate, and spirits. He or she learns to drop expressions from his or her speech that show themselves as helpless victims

Level 2: Emotional Honesty.

Emotional honesty concerns the willingness of a person to know and own his or her feelings. This is a necessary step to self-acceptance and self-understanding. The issue of resistance to self-discovery is dealt with at this level. Here you are honest with yourself, how your really feel as opposed to the socially accepted norm of how you should feel. As a secondary goal on this level, people learn to locate others with whom they can safely share their real feelings, their real selves, in an accepting and supporting manner.

Level 3: Emotional Openness.

This level concerns a person’s willingness to share and skills in sharing his or her feelings in an appropriate manner and at appropriate times. Persons at this level experience and learn the value of ventilating feelings to let feelings go, and also the dangers involved in hiding feelings from self and others. Self-disclosure is the important issue at this level of emotional maturity. The dangers of suppressing feelings and the value inherent in exploring all feelings and allowing them internal expression are investigated further over time at this level. At this level of emotional maturity, a person has the openness and freedom to experience any emotion without the need or compulsion to suppress or repress it. The suppression and repression of emotions is to protect the ego from harm and to protect the self from the ego pain that comes when the ego is harmed.

Level 4: Emotional Assertiveness.

The primary goal here is to be able to ask for and to receive the support that he or she needs and wants–first from self, and then from others. He or she asserts his or her emotional needs in all of his or her relationships, if it is safe to do so. As a secondary goal, he or she also learns how to express any feeling appropriately in any situation. (For example, how to express a feeling without aggressive or manipulative overtones.) A person at this level of emotional maturity makes time for his or her feelings–he or she prizes and respects those feelings. Such people understand the connections between suppressed feelings, negative stress, and illness. Emotional Assertiveness can be seen when people ask for time for themselves to recharge, congratulate others on their success, have non judgmental discussions with peers and superiors and be humble about their success.

Level 5: Emotional Understanding.

Persons on this level of emotional maturity understand the actual cause-and-effect processes of emotional responsibility and emotional irresponsibility. Self-concepts are understood to be “the” problem interfering with emotional responsibility. Such a person realizes that it is not possible to have a so-called good self-concept without a complementary bad self-concept.

Level 6: Emotional Detachment.

At this level, the person lives without the burden and snare of self-concepts, self-images, self-constructs, group-concepts, and thing-concepts. Such a person is only aware of self as process, as a sensing being, as an experiencing being, as a living vessel, as unknowable and untrappable–because self is alive and not static or fixed. Such a person has died to the life of self as self-concepts. True detachment from all self-concepts has occurred. Thus true detachment from others has also occurred, which means that absolute emotional responsibility has been achieved (actually discovered).  This person can remain unaffected by the Blame Game and can experience unconditional love for their enemies.

The fast paced life of the 21st century has thrown open challenges of long tiring work hours, disproportionate mental versus physical tension, lack of sleep, socialising on social media but not in reality, and very importantly – goal / task and the number game objective! One gets mentally cooked in this process and their level of emotion decides the final mental outcome and productivity.

Depression and anxiety are common work related mental illness, which have a significant economic impact. Harassment and bullying at work are commonly reported problems, and can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health. A healthy workplace can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees.

All cannot be blamed on the work environment and others, as one self realises and ascends up the levels of emotional maturity, one shall find peace and harmony with others and more importantly within. In this vastness of the universe and space, our galaxy is a miniscule and solar system a tiny dust. Here we are on earth, living in this era, assuming that we own the time. But factually, the time owns us for a certain period on earth as life. If one realises constantly that life comes with an expiry date, a lot of internal conflicts can be avoided. As great learners and philosopher’s state: “What one thinks and feels is not so important,” if one can bring this distance between their thought and emotion, their emotions will become a conscious process and not remain compulsive. This is the path to highest level of emotional maturity and peace.

23 thoughts on “Mental health in the work place: Levels of Emotions and Emotional Maturity – Indicators of mental well being.

  1. Suresh

    Dr muarali ..some times it is the most simple things in life which we have to practice to make life better and we have to keep.focussing at the simpler things as we go on.
    I feel it is the human minds inherent need to sound and look good in circumstances which create this inane need for complications
    A good reality check
    And extremely well put ..


  2. Mallikarjuna

    Thought proving write up Murli.

    I always believe in Empathy rather than Sympathy!

    Also, I feel Emotionally detachable attachment is the one which is very difficult to practice, yet, a person who does always succeeds….!

    Good luck Murli for future write-up…!


  3. Venkatesh

    Well written Dr. Murali.
    It very important to enjoy what one does inorder to excel at it. Its important to ask ourselves “Am I doing what I enjoy”. Most of the time people do things out of some or the other kind of compulsion rather than passion. This results in an internal conflict between “what I do” and “what I want to do” which inturn leads to stress and mental trauma.


  4. Satya Suresh

    I have just finished reading the article you wrote on Mental health in the work place. I want to tell you how much I appreciated your clearly written and thought-provoking article.
    Thank you for your thorough research and clear writing.


  5. Dr Deepa Jayashankar

    The article is scholarly Dr Muruli and addresses the apt issues at present, we all need to value the small things which brings us happiness and view life at a better perspective, well written, my congratulations to you, regards
    Dr Deepa Jayashankar


  6. Kranthi

    Sorry for the typos above… rewriting it.

    Excellent articulation Dr. You have shaped the words so well and this is what each parent and teacher should know precisely about their children. We cannot and shouldn’t compare children, each one is unique
    Talking about happiness, you are very right in saying it is individual’s responsibility to grow up into maturity and peace.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s