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These Are Not Emotional Problems, They Are Problems With Negative Emotions Attached to Them.

Do you sometimes feel like you must have something terribly wrong with your brain, that you respond to things inappropriately or with too much intensity when others seem to blow right through those same problems?

Does your head spin with the seeming overwhelm that whatever it is cannot be conquered? Or that no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to solve the problem?

Maybe the problem is loneliness, fear, a collection of bad relationships, financial difficulties or a miserable job, the list can be endless.

Do you finally give up and give in to the anxiety and depression fighting to consume you? Or engage in some self destructive behavior like drinking too much or overeating?

Chances are you do not have emotional problems or a disorder. It is way more likely that you could benefit from some problem solving, life mapping and resilience skills. When these are missing we often become a hot mess of emotion, not knowing what to do, how to solve our pending difficulties and finally giving up.

With a life plan in place and some problem solving help on current issues it is actually possible to crawl out of whatever hole you are in.

If you have been raised in a dysfunctional background or not been taught the life skills mentioned above it is very likely you will stumble along your life’s path. You may see others who have similar problems to yours who seem to be OK. You too can be OK.

You may have already have tried therapy and medications but still be suffering. If your therapy has focused solely on your past you may not have gotten all the help you need. Therapy or coaching focused on your future and current problems is just as important.

Knowing the root cause of your problems, no matter what they are is very important, it gives you a basis from which to work. Adding into place life skills that you may not have learned gives you the tools to solve not only the current difficulties but to prevent future ones. Having a plan, knowing where you want to go and how to get there allows you to feel in control of your life again.

Lacking in life skills, resilience, problem solving, self esteem and self soothing abilities are not disorders. They are not defects in your brain or with your brain’s chemicals. In fact, your brain is actually probably working just fine as it is letting you know something is wrong. If it didn’t, you would not be upset over these things or experience these negative emotions.

Problems can tend to compound over time when not addressed. For instance, if you have financial restraints but you overspend regularly you will eventually find yourself in a downward spiral that is harder and harder to come back from. You may engage in “retail therapy” to make yourself feel better but then you feel worse when you can’t pay your phone bill. You may find yourself in so much credit card debt you have to file bankruptcy. Now not only do you have the same financial restraints but you also can’t shop, go out to eat or anything else. Now you are depressed. This is a problem but not a disorder.

In the above example the problem could have been solved way back in the beginning before it became the center of your whole life. Same with choosing bad relationships, being in a miserable career, feeling socially ostracized and many other of the problems that we experience that make us unhappy, anxious, sad and even angry.

So how do you solve these problems?

  1. Look into root cause. Going with the spending example, do you buy things for comfort? Status? Out of boredom? Do the items give you a short term boost of self esteem?
  2. Lets go with self esteem as the culprit as it is almost always a large factor in anxiety and depression. Chances are it is working against you in many areas of your life. So now you know you need to work on self esteem. You now need a plan.
  3.  Read up on self esteem a bit, there are many resources out there, available on Amazon. This is just to familiarize yourself on the concept. It is a critical life concept.
  4. Now list the other ways that self esteem is affecting your life. Peer into your relationships as this is the next big factor where low self esteem interferes with a happy life. Make a list of these problems, then dedicate a page to each for devising the plan of attack. For example you may have an abusive or neglectful intimate relationship or friends that take advantage of you. You may have no relationship but want one very badly.
  5. Just the act of clearly labeling them feels good. Now you have a clear destination. You want a healthy rewarding relationship. What needs to change in order for you to have one? Where are you now and when do you want to get where you want to be? Do you need help or can you do it by yourself?
  6. Your beliefs and thoughts are most likely limiting you so those need to be worked on first. This ties in with root cause. Dysfunctional thought patterns are common and can be corrected.
  7. Now that you know the root cause of your problems you will need to learn the skills associated with overcoming them. It is not enough to know the source. You may need help with boundaries, time management, organizing yourself for stress management, self soothing, or planning and controlling your environments. Each of these will need their own page and plan. You may need help with all of it, don’t despair! I see it all the time, it is not uncommon to need help across many areas.
  8. Decide what you need help with and how you will get that help. There are books, online programs and courses, self help resources and coaches for every problem out there.  Do one area of skill attainment at a time so you are not overwhelmed. New things take a while to learn and become habits.
  9. You will find that adding these skill bases chips away at the problems and the negative emotions surrounding them. It will feel good and you will feel in control. Even if the problem is huge, breaking it down and working on it piece by piece will get you to the finish line. This feeling of control is what lifts you and keeps you energized as you put these things behind you.

If you feel you may suffer from dysfunctional thought patterns that are keeping you depressed, anxious or unable to break free from problematic behaviors, please visit us at Psychskills and get the free resources 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.

These Are Not Emotional Problems, They Are Problems With Negative Emotions Attached to Them.

Audrey Sherman, Ph.D.

Audrey Sherman is a psychologist, speaker and author of the book Dysfunction Interrupted-How to Quickly Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Anger Starting Now. She has been working with individuals and families for over 20 years and her expertise is in helping others to overcome the emotional baggage that keeps them stuck in unhappy and unproductive relationships, jobs and more. She currently works with clients in person or via Skype or telephone. To learn more about Dr. Sherman, her book and workshops you can visit her website,

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APA Reference
Sherman, A. (2018). These Are Not Emotional Problems, They Are Problems With Negative Emotions Attached to Them.. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 17, 2018, from


Last updated: 7 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jul 2018
Published on All rights reserved.