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The bedrock of mental health. It means I don't base my feelings of worth on the opinions of others.

 

That means I don't base my choices on pleasing others or winning approval. I am secure in who I am.

You cannot effectively manage an emotion you can't even identify. 

This is the essential prerequisite to managing our emotions so that they don't control us.

And to understanding others' emotions.

The single biggest predictor of success in every aspect of life. Not an overstatement.

 

When you can't control your emotional responses, they control you and the results can range from chaos to devastation. As we see in the news daily.

A vital factor in academic (or any) success.

My 'fixed mindset' makes me believe I am incapable of improving, regardless of effort.

My 'growth mindset' tells me I can increase my ability through effort. 

You can't manage what you can't see about yourself. It's about being honest with yourself and seeing why you do what you do. So you can make better choices.

 

What is it really that is making you want to choose that partner or spend that money? Without self-knowledge you react instead of act. It's how so many of us end up unhappy and lost and don't even know why. Because we are so out of touch with our true self.

Empathy is not sympathy, and it's not just about altruism. It's the most powerful social skill there is - and, surprisingly, essential to healthy self-esteem.

 

It's about seeing from someone else's perspective. When you do, the world no longer revolves around you. That means that what others do (including socially hurtful things) are no longer a reflection on you, but of where they are coming from. Can you see the power of that paradigm shift? Priceless. Life-changing.

Do we see only negatives in life or do we have a more realistic - yes, realistic - perspective? Because our interpretations of this life are based on our assumptions, and these are instilled in us very early in life.

 

A key mental habit we adopt early in life is whether we focus on avoiding negative consequences or on achieving positive ones. Can you see the oh-so-subtle but powerful difference between those two mental habits?  It's not hard to see what a massive difference it makes to being happy and successful.

Resilience is about how we manage and bounce back from setbacks in life - and we’ll have lots of those. What do we do about them? Become a helpless victim or adopt an attitude of agency? It’s easy to see where the former will take you in terms of mental health - not to mention success - if it becomes your automatic response.

 

Understanding our locus of control in life is essential to maintaining ownership of our life and not allowing the setbacks to define it.

Maturity (and mental health) is about taking ownership of your own choices and happiness. Until you do, you are just the victim of other people's.

 

Boundaries involve discerning between what is our own responsibility and what is someone else's. What's in your own backyard, and what is in the other person's.

 

And it's about not taking responsibility for someone else's choices. Knowing where you end and they begin - that boundary line - is essential. Without it, life can become overwhelming.

What can you see so clearly now that you couldn't see then? Wishing you knew then what you know now.

 

Sometimes it's because we refused to see at the time. We so wanted something to be true that we refused to see it any other way. The investment deal that was guaranteed to pay off. The romantic partner we so wanted to be 'the one', to be the ideal we were 'seeing'.

 

Nobody is immune to this stumbling block. But the better we get at recognising when it happens, the more power we have to make choices based on reality and not on what we want to see.

Self-Esteem

The bedrock of mental health. It means I don't base my feelings of worth on the opinions of others.

 

That means I don't base my choices on pleasing others or winning approval. I am secure in who I am.

Healthy self-esteem means you have a deep-seated sense of your own self-worth and ability to manage life. So, you are not consumed by trying to please everyone or prove yourself, and you don’t bury who you are in order to be accepted. You have a deep-seated belief that you are as worthy of love and attention as anyone else, and have the ability to navigate life’s challenges. Healthy self-esteem is the bedrock of mental health. 

Result:  

  • you are far less susceptible to peer pressure or to developing harmful coping behaviours 

  • you form more equal, authentic and positive relationships. These connections become the scaffolding that supports a successful and fulfilling life.  

  • markedly less anxiety and rumination 

  • the basis for resilience, optimism and a growth mindset 

Emotional Literacy

You cannot effectively manage an emotion you can't even identify. 

This is the essential prerequisite to managing our emotions so that they don't control us.

And to understanding others' emotions.

Like it or not, emotions are by far the biggest driver behind our actions and choices. So the more unaware we are of what they are and how they influence what we do, the more power they have over us. The more chaotic and exhausting our inner world becomes. And that chaos results in destructive behaviour. 

Common sense suggests, and research has shown, that when you name an emotion you are in the thick of feeling, its influence over you is immediately reduced. It is the essential prerequisite to gaining any level of power over it. Then, understanding how it is influencing your thoughts and behaviours is the next essential step. 

When you turn these two skills outward, you make a dramatic difference in your relationships and interactions with other people. Accurately perceiving what someone else is feeling is the first step to formulating an effective response – one that builds trust and connection and moves the relationship forward constructively. The opposite – misreading or making false assumptions – creates misunderstandings that snowball over time.  

Self-Control

It's the single biggest predictor of success in every aspect of life. Not an overstatement.

 

When you can't control your emotional responses, they control you and the results can range from chaos to devastation. As we see in the news daily.

Being able to regulate your emotions is the single biggest predictor of success in life. That’s a big statement – and it’s not an exaggeration. When we don’t learn to manage our emotions, they control us and thwart our efforts to achieve and succeed in virtually every single aspect of life – academic, social, professional, financial.

  

If you could follow 1,000 people from birth to middle age, tracking every possible factor that could impact how healthy, happy and successful they are by age 50, you might be surprised to find which of those factors most predicted that outcome. 

 

It’s not the social or economic class they were born into. 

It’s not IQ. It’s not money or privilege. It’s not even education. 

It is self-control. Self-control is the single strongest predictor of success in life – we know this not only because it makes sense but because such a study was conducted. You can read about it here

The good news is that self-control is a skill, not a fixed personality trait. It can be developed in anyone. Start here! 

Mindset

A vital factor in academic (or any) success.

My 'fixed mindset' makes me believe I am incapable of improving, regardless of effort.

My 'growth mindset' tells me I can increase my ability through effort. 

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you’re right.” This quote by Henry Ford aptly summarises the power of mindset. It is the attitude you take to a problem that determines what you do about it – whether you surrender to it or take action.  

Mindset makes the difference between defeat and perseverance. Here’s how. 

A fixed mindset says “I have this level of ability and that’s all there is to it. There’s no point in trying harder - that’s just how I am.” 

A growth mindset says ”I can get better at this. I can increase my understanding and skill - I just have to work at it.” 

One mindset lives life as a passive victim of circumstances. The other as an active participant who knows they have a measure of control over their world. It’s not hard to see where each of those mindsets will take them not just in terms of success but in terms of mental health. 

Self-Knowledge

You can't manage what you can't see about yourself. It's about being honest with yourself and seeing why you do what you do. So you can make better choices.

 

What is it really that is making you want to choose that partner or spend that money? Without self-knowledge you react instead of act. It's how so many of us end up unhappy and lost and don't even know why. Because we are so out of touch with our true self.

Empathy

Empathy is not sympathy, and it's not just about altruism. This is without a doubt the most powerful skill there is in the sphere of managing the relationships in our lives - and, surprisingly, essential to healthy self-esteem.

 

Empathy means being able to see someone else's perspective. When you can see (and feel) from their viewpoint, the world no longer revolves around you. That means that what others do (including socially hurtful things) are no longer a reflection on you, but of where they are coming from. Can you see the power of that paradigm shift? Priceless. Life-changing.

Optimism

Do we see only the negatives in life or do we have a more realistic - yes, realistic - perspective? Because our interpretations of this life are based on our assumptions, and these are instilled in us very early in life.

 

A key mental pattern we adopt early in life is whether we focus our thoughts on trying to avoid negative consequences or on achieving positive ones. Can you see the oh-so-subtle but very powerful difference between those two mental habits?  It's not hard to see what a massive difference it makes to being happy and successful.

Optimism isn’t about pie-in-the-sky self-illusion. Very closely linked to Mindset, optimism is about the way we view and manage setbacks and problems in life. And we’ll have many of those to manage. What will we do about them? Become a helpless victim or adopt an attitude of agency? It’s easy to see where the former will take you in terms of mental health if it becomes your automatic response. 

One of the key patterns we adopt early in life is whether we spend our efforts on trying to avoid negative consequences or seeking to gain positive ones. Can you see the oh-so-subtle but very powerful difference between those two mental habits?  

The vast majority of parents, without realising it, daily entrench the former mental habit into their kids. Without realising it, because we are trying to teach our kids how to manage things well, we discipline them by threatening negative consequences that they should avoid. It’s a natural outcome of this that they learn to seek to do better in order to avoid negative outcomes. A subtly but entrenched negative way to live. 

 

But if instead they grow up with a mental habit of reaching for positive outcomes, what a powerful and positive way that is to live!

Resilience

Resilience is about how we manage and bounce back from setbacks in life - and we’ll have lots of those. What do we do about them? Become a helpless victim or adopt an attitude of agency? It’s easy to see where the former will take you in terms of mental health - not to mention success - if it becomes your automatic response.

 

Understanding our locus of control in life is essential to maintaining ownership of our life and not allowing the setbacks to define it.

Boundaries

Maturity (and mental health) is about taking ownership of your own choices and happiness. Until you do, you are just the victim of other people's actions.

 

Boundaries involve discerning between what is our own responsibility and what is someone else's. What's in your own backyard, and what is in the other person's.

 

And it's about not taking responsibility for someone else's choices. Knowing where you end and they begin - that boundary line - is essential. Without it, life can become overwhelming.

Dedication to Reality

What can you see so clearly now that you couldn't see then? We all have those in our lives. What you wish you knew then that you know now.

 

Sometimes this happens because we refused to see at the time. We wanted something to be true so much that we refused to see it any other way. The investment deal that was guaranteed to pay off. The romantic partner we so wanted to be 'the one', to be the ideal we were 'seeing'.

 

Nobody is immune to this stumbling block. But the better we get at recognising when it happens, the more power we have to make choices based on reality and not on what we want to see.

Keep Me Informed:  EQuipped for Life Program

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