Dr Viktor Frankl in his book ‘Man’s Search For Meaning‘, talks about ‘hygiene’ emotionally and psychologically, a hygiene necessary to maintain a healthy mind and heart.
Upon release from internment in concentration camps, release from the extremes of deprivation and human suffering, Frankl observed that humans encountering their new freedoms had to be cautious of their emotional health in the following ways.
First, they had to be cautious to not react with vengeance and hatred towards the world, careless of the hurts or disadvantages towards others that their behaviour could cause, all the while justifying their actions by their own needless sufferings.
Second, they had to be wary not to succumb to bitterness when encountering those who would trivialise their prisoner experience with hollow platitudes devoid of any true empathy.
Third, they had to be on guard not to give in to disillusionment when returning home, upon learning that the objects of their love and hope for the future, their family, beloved, friends, were now gone.
In this way Frankl teaches us all, very few of whom have suffered the indignities of a concentration camp, to care for our own hearts and minds as though for our bodies and homes. We must daily clean the toxic emotional build up and thought patterns of life as we would ritually wash our hands before eating, our bodies before resting, our wounds before going out into the air. We must throw away rotting thoughts and attitudes before they infect our lives and vigilantly clean up our living space of soiled attitudes or ideas past their due date.
How is your emotional hygiene?