7 Beliefs of Emotionally Healthy People

How does our outlook on life, the world, and the future affect our health and well-being? This week, Savvy Psychologist Dr. Ellen Hendriksen reveals 7 big beliefs healthy people share.

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
7-minute read
Episode #175

Belief #4: “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”

Sirius Black got it right when he said, “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”

And while none of us likely has a house elf named Winky, all of us encounter people who do things for us every day—customer service reps, the bus driver, custodians, drugstore clerks—and each of them deserves our respect.

An important note: the knowledge that they’re getting paid to help you isn’t a substitute. Respect and money aren’t interchangeable, plus in the long run, respect buys a lot more than money.

Now, as for how to treat people who take up two parking spaces, that’s another episode...

Belief #3: “I can laugh at myself.”

When we’re only in it to win it, we’re definitely taking ourselves too seriously. Red flags include being judgy, micromanaging, always having to be right, getting defensive, holding grudges, never apologizing, or anything else that smacks of holier-than-thou self-importance.

So how to laugh at yourself? What are the things you’re embarrassed about? What are your worst qualities? What are the things your haters say about you? Own them. Stephen King once said, “I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries.” George W. Bush famously said to the Yale graduating class, “To those of you who received honors, awards, and distinctions, I say, well done. And to the C students — I say, you, too, can be President of the United States."

All in all, believing you can love and are worthy of love allows you to connect to other people.

If you’re the first to laugh at yourself and say you’re hypersensitive, dramatic, or a stick-in-the mud, you magically transform your failings and vulnerabilities into self-deprecating charm.

Belief #2: “I am capable.”

Call this “I can do hard things,” “I can handle whatever life throws at me,” “I’m competent. “Believing we can’t handle things—that we’re incapable or incompetent—drives all anxiety. Indeed, growing people’s belief in their own competence is 50% of what I do in my clinic every day.

So where does the belief of “I’m capable” come from? Experience. Push yourself a little, then a little more. Try new things, talk to new people, go new places. The reward is a sense of your own power and capability that will carry you through the years.

Belief #1: “I can love and am worthy of love.”

Believing you are worthy of love and can give love in return—which everyone is, even if you worry you’re the exception—pays off for a lifetime.

To build our case, let’s look to Harvard University’s Study of Adult Development, which has followed the lives of 724 men for over 75 years. The study began in 1938 and it continues to this day and beyond. The researchers have gathered data on everything: the men’s physical characteristics, their drinking, their careers, their marriages, their relationships with their mothers, and much more. And what did they find?

Quite simply, as Dr. George Vaillant, the longest-tenured of the study’s four directors summed it up, "Happiness is love. Full stop." Indeed, the men in the study who were the most satisfied in their relationships—those who felt loved and gave love—at age fifty were the healthiest at age eighty.

Now, if you grew up in a family where you had to earn love through achievement, obedience, or simply keeping quiet and out of the way, this belief might not come easily for you. You may carry around in your core the idea that love has to be earned or worth has to be granted. If that resonates with you, you deserve more than a podcast episode; search out a qualified therapist you like and trust and do some good work.

All in all, believing you can love and are worthy of love allows you to connect to other people, which in turn makes life happy, healthy, and long.

how to be yourself ellen hendriksen bookPre-order Ellen's forthcoming book HOW TO BE YOURSELF: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety. Get even more savvy tips to be happier and healthier by subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or get each episode delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for the newsletter. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

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All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ellen Hendriksen, PhD

Dr. Ellen Hendriksen was the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast from 2014 to 2019. She is a clinical psychologist at Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD). She earned her Ph.D. at UCLA and completed her training at Harvard Medical School. Her scientifically-based, zero-judgment approach is regularly featured in Psychology Today, Scientific American, The Huffington Post, and many other media outlets. Her debut book, HOW TO BE YOURSELF: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety, was published in March 2018.