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5 Life Lessons From Therapists Who Have Been Listening to People’s Problems For Decades.

What you can accomplish in life is limited by the stories you tell yourself.

Author :Thomas Oppong.

Life is a learning experience but it’s not a linear. Everyone’s journey is different but there are lessons learned, fundamental principles and better approaches to the common obstacles we all face. Psychologists, therapists and behavioural scientists reap great wisdom from people they talk to every day. These are important insights that psychologists have gained throughout their years of practice —lessons that have influenced how they approach their work and their own lives. They are grounded in modern research and relevant to improving your life today. Life is a gift — it unfolds in a surprising way Life offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to do more of what brings out the best in us and provide value for others. The possibilities are infinite — if you have the right perspective and mindset about living it. Every morning is a gift of life to be appreciated and celebrated. If you choose to be fully awake right now, you can make the most of today. Today is non-refundable — choose to make great memories out of each moment you have. “Having counselled countless clients through grief and loss, one blessing of this work is the awareness of the preciousness of time,” says therapist Joyce Marter, LCPC, founder of Urban Balance, a counselling practice in the Chicago area. Psychotherapist Susan Lager, LICSW, has learned a similar lesson. “Life is full of uncertainty, and offers no promises, so live each day without a sense of entitlement, treating it as a precious gift.”Wake up every day and realize that you have today to live your life to the fullest. Your own goals are far more important than anyone else’s Humans are motivated by what excites them. Fulfilment is fast becoming the main priority for most of us. Millions of people still struggle to find what they are meant to do. What excites them. What makes them lose the sense of time. What brings out the best in them. “People are motivated by what excites them, scares them, what they dream about, etc. While someone can be motivated in the short term by what other people want for them (including their therapist), this is rarely powerful enough to help motivate them to make better choices when they find themselves in difficult situations,” explains Karen Arluck, LCSW, a clinical psychotherapist. What’s your reason for getting up in the morning? Losing your purpose or reason to be excited about life can have a detrimental effect. Discovering your own reasons for living ( what the Japanese call ikigai) can bring you fulfilment, happiness and make you live longer. What you can accomplish in life is limited by the stories you tell yourself How you talk to yourself deeply affects the direction of your life. The stories you tell yourself establish your self-identity, give your life meaning, help you to make sense of the world, and guide your actions. Some people approach life as if there’s a disaster lurking just around the corner every day. Others approach life as if the world was designed for their benefit, and when something bad happens, they find a reason to keep moving. Anxious people have a tendency to only explore the scary “what ifs”. Always remember, there’s no obstacle that cannot be re-framed into an opportunity. How you interpret and represent the world in your mind influences your actions more than you think. “What we can accomplish is limited by the stories we’ve been told about ourselves, becoming our internal narrative and sense of identity,” says Jonathan Schnapp, a psychotherapist. Kim Schneiderman, a psychotherapist says we should always try to find the best version of any story that makes us feel hopeful. She explains in her book, “Step Out of Your Story: Writing Exercises to Reframe and Transform Your Life: “…many of us remain so entrenched in tales of victimization and martyrdom that we can scarcely imagine an alternate, positive or redemptive reading of the text of our lives. Perhaps because we have been taught to view life through one particular lens, we simply don’t see other, more inspiring versions of our tale that could liberate us.” Changing your story may change your life. The quality of your thoughts can easily affect the quality of your life. “I have borne witness to people’s negative and positive formulations about their lives and themselves, and seen the profound impact this has on them,” says Lager. You are more than capable of creating a better story about yourself. Worry is not only futile but it also robs you of the present Worrying about something in endless circles — is exhausting. It leads to serious emotional distress. “There are people who have levels of overthinking that are just pathological,” says clinical psychologist Catherine Pittman, an associate professor in the psychology department at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. Constant worrying, negative thinking, and always expecting the worst can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. To overcome worrying, shift your worry from the long-term problems to daily routines/actions that will solve the problems. You can also acknowledge your worries, and get them out of your head by writing them down. “Get everything out and don’t hold back,” says lead author of the Worry Less Report, Hans Schroder (PhD in Clinical Psychology, Michigan State University). “You don’t have to share your thoughts with anyone, and don’t worry about spelling and grammar. Getting worries out of your head through expressive writing frees up cognitive resources for other things,” he adds. Life is just too short to waste it by worrying about events you can’t control. No matter where you go, be where you are. Detach yourself from the past and the future to fully enjoy the present. Improving emotional regulation skills can enhance long-term wellbeing Emotions are a big part of our lives — our emotions largely dictate our thoughts, intentions and most importantly our actions. When your emotions are under control, you can consciously put yourself in the best state that gets you in a position, and in a situation, where you can make better decisions. Research suggests that positive emotions, such as happiness, comfort, contentedness, and pleasure, help us make decisions, allow us to consider a larger set of options, and decide quicker. Intense emotions can easily overwhelm our rational minds and have a powerful impact on our behaviour. Negative emotions, like rage, envy or bitterness, tend to spiral out of control, especially immediately after they’ve been triggered. When we act on our emotions too quickly or act on the wrong kinds of emotions, we often make decisions that we later regret. “Emotion regulation means practising something known as impulse control,” says Kris Lee, Ed.D., a professor at Northeastern University, behavioural science expert and author of Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today’s World. Use the 60 seconds rule to control your emotions. Dr Amelia Aldao, PhD, therapist, and Founder of Together CBT, a clinic specializing in group therapy for anxiety, OCD, stress, and depression in New York City recommends we wait 60 seconds before doing anything to gain better control of our emotions. Amelia has spent over a decade studying how people can better regulate their emotions. “That’s it; simple as that: Just wait. Hit the pause button. Don’t do anything,” she writes. “In particular, don’t follow what the emotion is telling you to do: Don’t send that angry text, don’t decline the invitation to present at work, don’t tell your potential date you’re too busy this week, don’t send that passive-aggressive email to your boss. Just don’t, ” she explains. To overcome that strong feeling without quickly action out, Amelia says we should try to stay with the emotion and not act on it right away. How you approach life says a lot about who you are. A big part of having a successful life is learning how to manage what life throws at you. The greatest lessons we learn in life are not taught at school but by life itself. Remember what Napoleon Hill once said, “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.

How you respond to everything around you is always within your control.