Are you emotionally secure?

Cultivating an awareness of your feelings is crucial not only for your mental well-being, but your physical health. Studies show that stress can take a toll on your body and unmanaged anger puts excess pressure on your heart and blood pressure.

That's where emotional security comes in.

Emotional security can best be described as "the ability to identify, label and express what you're feeling," according to Kendra Campbell, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In other words, you know how to address your emotions in a healthy way.

Below are a few signs you've totally got a handle on your feelings.

USA, New York State, New York City, Manhattan, Hand holding heart shape
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USA, New York State, New York City, Manhattan, Hand holding heart shape

1. You embrace the negative.
Life is a series of peaks and valleys. By not only recognizing that there will be negative events or challenges, but being open to them, you're setting yourself up for a healthy relationship with those types of emotions.

"Emotions are natural and universal -- we all experience them," Campbell told The Huffington Post. "No one is immune from experiencing them, even the negative ones."

2. You look at the bigger picture.
This self-distancing technique can do a lot for a person's mood. Instead over reliving a painful experience in order to process the emotions behind it (think replaying that breakup in your mind over and over again), it might be better to look at a negative event as if you're viewing it from afar. Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that those who look at a situation from an "outsider's perspective," so to speak, may experience a lower risk for depressive symptoms.

3. You're empathetic.
If you're willing to experience a spectrum of emotions, chances are you're more likely to relate to someone else and their experience. This level of empathy only comes when you're emotionally mature, according to Michelle Carlstrom, the senior director of work, life and engagement and a certified grief counselor at Johns Hopkins University.

For example, when you're in touch with your feelings, you're able to recognize when someone at work is going through something that may be disrupting their performance based on your own experience. "Emotions are not a weakness," Carlstrom told The Huffington Post. "For anyone."

4. You're not afraid of a good cry.
Bring on the tissues. Embracing your emotions means accepting all of them -- including those feelings that prompt tears. Crying is a bodily response to any sort of external trigger -- good or bad -- and holding it in could have a negative influence on your physical and mental health.

"An emotionally immature person just keeps their head down and pushes through on the premise of being 'tough,'" Carlstrom said. "They don't process things."

5. You practice self-compassion.
No inner critic here. If you're in touch with your feelings, you recognize how damaging negative thoughts can be.

"An emotionally secure person knows how to manage that self-talk," Carlstrom said. "That voice can be distracting, negative and can hold us back. They're able to manage it in a way that's not going to do them harm."

6. You know how to "de-escalate" an argument.
There are two types of people: Those who assert themselves in an argument until the other person concedes and those who are confident in their own opinion, regardless of what others think. Making a choice not to go "tit for tat" -- or taking the second position in an argument -- says a lot about a person's emotional security, according to Carlstrom.

In other words, would you rather be right or be happy? Those who are in touch with their emotions usually choose the latter, Carlstrom says.

7. You communicate your emotions to others.
A large part of emotional security is validating your own feelings by expressing them to other people, Campbell explains. This may mean standing up for yourself at work or allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of a romantic partner.

"All the emotions we experience are pieces of information, so its important that we don't stifle them or pretend we don't have them, and communicate them instead," she said. "Recognizing what you're feeling is important because if you're not able to, those emotions will resurface in one way or another."

8. You're honest with yourself about how you're feeling.
Angry? Disappointed? Guilty? You don't try to push it from your mind. "Part of emotional expression is the ability to be attuned to what's going on within yourself," Campbell said.

Hiding how we feel may lead to unintended consequences, according to psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith. "When we choose to bury our feelings, we act differently," he wrote in a Psychology Today blog. "We may not make ourselves available to others and may withdraw, or just not be fully engaged when we do spend time with other people. ... When you express how you really feel (in an appropriate manner), problems get solved, relationship issues get resolved, and life is easier."

9. You apologize.
We've all been in the wrong at some point. The key is recognizing when to own up to it.

"This ability to acquiesce or understand when we've made an error or had a failure -- the ability to course correct -- is important for creating emotional security," Carlstrom said. The more you make peace with your mistakes, the more likely you are to move forward.

10. You know when to reach out for help.
Experts stress that taking care of your mental well-being is important for overall health.

"Talking about your issues and problems out loud can be very helpful. It gives some perspective," Gregory Dalack, chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, previously told HuffPost. "Talking with somebody who is trained to understand anxiety and depression can be even more helpful to help manage those symptoms, reframe some of the negative thoughts we tend to have and move us to a place [mentally] where we can cope with those difficulties."

People who are in touch with their feelings also recognize when those feelings become too overwhelming and seek the appropriate treatment to help manage those emotions. The payoff? A happy heart, mind and body -- and there's no better security than that.


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