By David Joel Miller.
What life lessons do you need to learn?
You probably went to school for a while or you wouldn’t be reading this. You learned your alphabet, reading and some math. Maybe a little history, very little history if you are typical. What most of us missed out on were the lessons about the required emotional skills. How you get through this life in one piece.
By life lessons, I am not necessarily talking about how to cook a meal or wash some clothes, though those are useful skills. What I am talking about is how to go about really “living” this thing we call a life. What do you do to create a happy life out of the raw material that will be thrown at you?
Below are some of the life lessons you may not have gotten enough training in. There are things counselors work on with their clients all the time. If you see any of these life lessons you feel you need to work on, consider some therapy or a good book on self-improvement that covers the part you still need to learn.
Stress reduction will keep you from stressing out.
Life is stressful. There is good stress and bad stress. Much of this thing we call stress is the result of our anticipating what will happen, not the actual happening. In another post about stress, I wrote about how people who are going through a really difficult time can be less stressed out than those who are afraid they will have to have that experience. Accept that stress is a required part of living. Learn to reduce the impact of that stress on your life.
Emotional Regulation is a skill that will keep you out of trouble.
It comes as a surprise to many people that they can regulate their emotions. Most of us started out having feelings and then either getting in trouble for those feelings or being told we shouldn’t feel the way we were feeling. Turns out that learning to regulate your emotions is an important life skill.
Many people end up having to take anger management classes where they learned that it is not other people who are “making them angry” but it is the way they view the situation that creates their anger. Anger is not the only emotion you need to learn to regulate. You will feel sadness and emotional pain. People who are good and regulating these emotions feel them but don’t get carried away.
Interpersonal communication is a make or break life skill.
Interpersonal communication is a skill that many people need to work on. Some people get this skill wrong and develop the belief that interpersonal communication means learning how to tell other people things. The biggest part of the interpersonal communications consists of learning how to accurately listen to others. When you get a clear picture of what other people are saying you will discover that there are far fewer things you need to argue with.
Developing a support system isn’t always an easy skill to develop.
Having the support of people in your life makes life a whole lot easier. For most people, friends were something that just happened. In the early school grades, anyone that you spend time with could easily become your friend. As we get older it becomes harder and harder to make real lasting friends.
When you are too close to things you miss the big picture.
One important life skill that an adult may still need to develop is the ability to look at things from different perspectives. Often when people are caught up in the moment things look a very set way. Learning to step back and analyze situations from other perspectives can help you solve life’s problems.
You can’t be objective about you.
People often work with coaches. counselors and therapists, because they can’t see their own behavior. Even when it’s painful, it can be really helpful to have someone who will give you an honest version of what they see about you and your behavior.
Encouragement helps you change.
To really grow and progress people need positive reinforcement. Many people grew up experiencing mostly negative feedback. The belief in the past was that in order to get people to do better it was necessary to point out every single one of their flaws. We’ve since learned that if you never hear anything positive it is easy to become discouraged and give up trying.
You need to learn being real can be scary.
Really young kids find it easy to be real. Young people find it easy to spot people who are being fake. As we get older, more and more we are likely to hide our real selves. Often it’s easier to present a false image to others in the hope of being liked. People who are able to be real have to take risks. While being real involves taking some scary risks it also results in people being a lot happier.
Are any of these life lessons that you still need to learn?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books