There’s been a lot of talk in the mental health and wellness community lately about red and green flags, but do you know what these terms actually mean? Just as red flags refer to negative, undesirable characteristics and behaviors, green flags are their positive and healthy counterparts which contribute to emotional maturity, healthy communication skills, and a willingness to form positive relationships. And both can exist in ourselves just as much as they do in others.
So if you’ve ever wondered what are some green flags in yourself, then here are 7 psychology-backed examples:
You’ve learned how to manage your emotions.
In an article for Very Well Mind, written by psychology and healthcare journalists Kendra Cherry and Shereen Lehman, “Emotionally intelligent people know that emotions can be powerful, but also temporary…(hence) they take some time before responding.” So if you’ve learned to take control of your emotions, then you know how to create a pause between stimulus and response so as not to let your feelings cloud your judgment.
You have a nuanced understanding of things.
Empathetic and open-minded, you understand that people and situations aren’t black or white. You aren’t judgmental or rigid in your thinking, which makes you easily able to see things from other people’s perspectives. And according to psychologist Chandrani Mukherjee, open-minded people experience deeper satisfaction, inner peace, and greater critical thinking skills.
You don’t need to put others down to feel better about yourself.
According to licensed therpaist Dr. Brian Kaplan, this is a green flag because it means that you are confident and secure in your own sense of self-worth. You have a good grasp of your own strengths and weaknesses, and you’re also aware of how your behavior affects others. You are willing to work on your flaws and can easily admit when you’re wrong. You don’t feel the need to blame other people for your mistakes or badmouth someone out of jealousy.
Your self-talk is positive and empowering.
Another important green flag is having a positive and empowering inner dialogue. According to an article published by Medical News Today, positive self-talk is good for your mental health and relationships because it improves your ability to cope with anxiety and mental stress. Examples of positive self-talk are, “I am really happy for myself,” “I am doing well,” or “That is not great, but it could be worse/it’s only temporary/I’ll be alright.”
You don’t feel guilty about self-care.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIH), self-care is essential for taking care of our mental health. But most people tend to feel guilty (or are made to feel guilty) about it because they mistakenly believe it to be selfish or self-indulgent. But as the NIH explains, “Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.”
You can maintain your independence in relationships.
According to psychologist Dr. Barton Goldsmith, having a healthy, “interdependent relationship” — be it romantic or platonic — means that you are able to have a life outside of your partner, such as being able to enjoy time alone, have your own hobbies and friends, and set healthy boundaries for one another. “The healthiest way we can interact with those close to us is by being truly interdependent,” says Dr. Barton. “This is where two people, both strong individuals, are involved with each other, but without sacrificing themselves or compromising their values.”
You have a positive outlook on life.
Last but certainly not the least, having a positive mindset and attitude is an important green flag because it is “the key to success in life,” according to mental health researcher Courtney Ackerman and psychologist Dr. William Smith. Why? Because people with a positive outlook have a strong sense of belief in themselves and their ability to improve whatever negative circumstances they may find themselves in. They are also better able to adapt to changes and bounce back from setbacks and challenges.
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Which of these green flags do you see in yourself? By recognizing the green flags in ourselves, we can feel more confident in our ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. These green flags may also indicate self-growth, so if you notice any of these in yourself, congratulations! These are all important qualities for building healthy relationships and leading a fulfilling life.
What are some other green flags in yourself we might have missed? Let us know in the comments down below!
- Ackerman, C. E., & Smith, W. (2018). “Positive Mindset: How to Develop a Positive Mental Attitude.” Positive Psychology. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/positive-mindset/#what-positive-mindset
- Cherry, K., & Lehman, S. (2022). “What is Emotional Intelligence?” Very Well Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-emotional-intelligence-2795423
- Kaplan, B. (2023). “30+ Reasons Why People Put Others Down.” UpJourney. Retrieved from https://upjourney.com/reasons-why-people-put-others-down
- Mukherjee, C. (2022). “Open-Minded – Why It Matters and How to Do It Right.” The Pleasant Mind. Retireved from https://thepleasantmind.com/open-minded/
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). “Caring for Your Mental Health.” Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health#:~:text=Self%2Dcare%20means%20taking%20the,illness%2C%20and%20increase%20your%20energy.
- Richards, L., & Jelinek, J. (2022). “What is positive self-talk?” Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/positive-self-talk