If you grew up in a dysfunctional family or other dysfunctional background it is likely you did not learn some of the emotional tools necessary to lead a full and satisfying life. In fact, you may feel stuck, unhappy and chronically in a state of emotional turmoil, wondering how everyone else gets by in life. You may be depressed, anxious and angry all at the same time. The emotional baggage can feel like a cement shoe.

In working with clients over the years, it has become apparent to me that there are several critical things in life that everyone needs to know and to work on, no matter where they are starting from. We can all benefit from continued work in these areas that teach us how to live satisfying and fulfilled lives.  Sometimes a coach can help you with these things and sometimes a therapist is needed.  You can even try self-help books and programs to get started.

For each of the things that I am listing below there are many wonderful resources available if you choose to go the self-help route. No matter where you believe you are starting from, you can improve.

Also when reading and looking at self-help, don’t limit yourself to those materials that focus on depression, anxiety or anger problems. You already know you have those problems. Focus on materials that teach a success skill set, resilience, motivation or relationship building.  You may not have considered these as self-help options for emotional difficulties but they are and can provide unbelievable benefits.

Please note that this blog does not mean to address long standing medical depressions with a biological basis.

7 Keys to Emotional Success

  1. Build resilience-This has to do with your ability to bounce back after a difficulty and persevere in the face of adversity. There are several factors that are involved with this concept such as your ability to determine a strategy and execute it, change direction if need be, manage yourself emotionally during the process and possess some level of confidence that you will make it. These are not necessarily things you are born with, they can be learned and developed.
  2. Set boundaries-Boundaries define you and how you are in the world and with others. Boundaries that you set provide a guide for you and help you to make choices in choosing friends, jobs and of course intimate relationships. Setting boundaries is a simple concept yet one of the most overlooked emotional skills in a dysfunctional family. Boundaries keep you from being taken advantage of and help you allocate your time and resources. They help you define to others how you will be treated and what you will not tolerate.
  3. Face your fears-Be excited, not afraid. Conquering a fear does wonders for your self esteem and builds you up for the next challenge. Start small and work up. Look at each fear as a challenge and it changes your mind set. We like to meet challenges, we run away from things that terrify us. Be careful of the words you use to examine the fear as they can actually be the deciding factor in whether you move forward.
  4. Eliminate negative messages that have affected your self esteem-please see previous blog for more info.
  5. Focus on your thinking patterns, also known as doing cognitive work-These thinking skills teach you to use your thoughts to your advantage to place yourself in a better frame of mind.  They teach you how to control your thoughts in order to master your life and your experience of life in general. Either you control your mind or it controls you!
  6. Enrich your life every day-Enrichment is the filling of your life and your days with the things that excite and inspire you. With the world at our fingertips via internet, it can be as easy as participating in a chat group about a hobby or interest you have always had or watching a video about any interest you can think of. Enrichment does not have to be expensive. The things you choose to enrich yourself help you to determine your identity.
  7. Build and develop relationships of varying kinds. Everyone needs a support system and the number one problem or symptom reported with depression is loneliness. This doesn’t mean you have to run out and make 10 new best friends. It is more likely you will have a few close friends, several friends who you see periodically to do things with, a group or two that are part of a hobby or club you join and then work colleagues. You can also enjoy the company of people you go to church with or who you see at trade shows or other events pertaining to work. All of these people make up your social system and there are varying levels of energy that you will need to put forth in maintaining these different types of relationships. It is all very worth it and provides you with the sense of belonging that is one of the basic human needs.

These things may sound like broad concepts, but once you give them some thought, master the ideas and apply them to your own life, you will see immediate and pleasurable results. Take one at a time, research it a bit, decide where you stand in terms of it being part of your life and then implement. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to do it all at once. I recommend starting with the idea of enrichment as it is the most fun and provides you with the fastest rewards!

If you feel you may have been taught dysfunctional thought patterns that are causing you problems or holding you back in your current life, please visit us at Psychskills and get the free resource How to Stop Wasting Your Life Being Depressed, Anxious and Unhappy: The Top 10 Strategies of Emotionally Successful People and/or How to Break Free from 12 Dysfunctional Thought Patterns

Photo by Carmela Nava