Applying Culture & Emotional Intelligence in a Changing World

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there is no shortage of issues that can adversely impact one’s state of well-being. Issues are stacked higher than a Colorado mountain! Local issues, regional challenges, national fears, and international worries, on top of personal ones.

I talked with my colleague, Dr. Ezra Lockhart, founder of Easy Does It Counseling. He shared wise words from an article he wrote on the causes and impacts of online gaming addiction. But in my opinion, the central theme is more about finding balance.

His article boils down to three things needed for community: social interaction, immersion, and achievement. This paradigm can be true in vastly different scenarios. For example, gang culture and fitness culture both have these elements. So do the online gamer and country club culture in their respective communities.

Determinants of Mental Health

Mental health is the collision of one’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual self with the outside world. This includes normal stressors of life, coping skills, and relationships. It is often subjective and rooted in self-actualization, self-efficacy, and personal perspective. In fact, the community you live or work in and subject yourself to significantly influences your mental health, as well as the quality and longevity of your life.

Of course, there is always room for cultural differences, philosophical variations, and professional beliefs – we, as humans, are far from a perfect science. Yet we have identified applications of Lockhart’s ideology that are showing promise in Native communities.

  •  The NACA Inspired Schools Network is reimagining Indigenous education by incorporating students, families, educators, and culture to improve educational outcomes. They are transforming Native community health by starting with the youth.
  • The Native Language Immersion Initiative is supported by our friends at First Nations Development Institute. These programs revitalize communities, respect Native knowledge, and lift up people by including culture in the equation.

Both examples build upon social interaction, immersion, and achievement in a core framework to successfully change lives and trajectories by retaining culture in the environment.

Healing through Emotional Intelligence

We are all an accumulation of our parents, our teachers, and our environments. As I’ve matured and peeled back the layers to heal my inner child, I’ve had to deal with imposter syndrome, addiction and recovery, and elements of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). I am eternally grateful for people like Dr. Lockhart – he is a peer, colleague, and friend that we all deserve in our corner.

As we embark on this rollercoaster of an election year, emotional intelligence will be key for my mental health. I am happy to share any resources if it can help your journey, too. In the meantime, check out Dr. Lockhart’s recently published book series titled Emotionally Empowered on ”understanding and managing emotions with confidence and resilience.” You can also find resources at SAMSHA.

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