#1: They outsource their emotional labor onto you

As a psychologist, one of the biggest sources of chronic unhappiness I see in people’s lives is being married to someone with low emotional maturity.

I hear stories like this all the time:

  • At the slightest hint of criticism, he just clams up or gets defensive — he literally never admits to being wrong!
  • I just don’t understand how she can be so smart and successful but so oblivious when it comes to her feelings?
  • He was so funny and charming when we first met… I just wish I had realized then that he had the emotional intelligence of an…

Healthy boundaries lead to happy relationships

So much suffering in life comes down to unhealthy boundaries:

  • The decades of resentment and lost intimacy accumulated because you’ve “tolerated” your spouse’s bad habits
  • The stress and burnout at work because you habitually “compromise” with your manager about workloads
  • The chronic worry and anxiety that comes from “just going with the flow” and never speaking up for yourself

And while most people know that better boundaries are key to healthier relationships, they’re also essential for your own emotional health and wellbeing.

So whether your goal is to improve an important relationship in your life or increase your own wellbeing…

Because emotional intelligence isn’t enough

Have you ever wished you could find a little more balance in your emotional life? Or maybe you struggle with an endless stream of negative self-talk that keeps you feeling constantly anxious, depressed, or guilty?

If so, you’ve probably heard something about emotional intelligence. It’s a pretty attractive idea — that if we understand more about ourselves and how emotions work, we can improve everything from bad moods and negative thought patterns to productivity and the quality of our relationships.

But here’s the problem with emotional intelligence: It’s just ideas — and ideas are not enough for true change.


Use them to escape worry spirals

Chronic worry is like a snowball that quickly becomes an avalanche: If you don’t deal with it when it’s small, it will consume you.

This means the key to managing chronic worry is to deal with it as soon as it pops into mind and is still manageable — before it spirals into something huge and overwhelming.

Sure, that sounds nice, but how? My worries go from annoying to overwhelming in the blink of an eye!

While the long-term solution to chronic worry and anxiety is building better habits, there are some small tips and tricks that can help in…

#3: Embracing uncertainty

Dealing with painful emotions is hard. Obviously.

As a result, a lot of people fall into the habit of avoiding those emotions rather than confronting them directly:

  • Using alcohol or social media to distract themselves
  • Depending on reassurance from others
  • Projecting or blaming other people
  • Even flat out denial

But while these avoidance strategies can feel like a relief initially, they almost always lead to feeling worse in the long run.

The solution is to build emotional courage.

Emotional courage is what allows you to do the right thing in the face of painful feelings instead of resorting to what’s…

Better relationships start with better listening

You always hear people talk about how important it is to “be a good listener.” But you almost never hear specific advice for how to actually do it.

In the rest of this article, I’ll introduce you to four simple skills you can learn to improve your capability as a listener. Based on a well-tested set of techniques from psychology called motivational interviewing, these skills will help you to create more satisfying and effective relationships in your life by becoming a better listener.

Whether you’re trying to work through a difficult conversation with your spouse or negotiating a raise at…

#3: Fear of being assertive

Low self-worth is one of the most common but under-discussed issues people face today.

Unfortunately, many of the tips and tricks you hear about for improving your self-worth either aren’t really helpful or even make things worse. For example, simply rehearsing unrealistically positive statements about yourself or the future — a form of “toxic positivity” — can actually make you feel worse in the long run.

If you really want to feel better about yourself, you need to address the core issues creating low self-worth in the first place.

In my work as a psychologist, I’ve seen 4 core psychological…

#2 — It builds your confidence

I love making stuff.

From baking scones on Saturday mornings with my daughters to recording podcasts and writing blog posts, almost nothing brings me as much joy and satisfaction as using my own creativity to bring something new and useful (or delicious) into the world.

And while we usually think about the benefits of creativity in terms of productivity, financial reward, fame, or just simple pleasure, I think there’s another set of benefits to a consistent creative practice that many people don’t consider…

Creativity is good for our emotional health.

In the rest of this article, I want to share…

#6: They set (and enforce) healthy boundaries

When you look around the world, there are a lot of examples of people who look confident on the outside:

From politicians who make sweeping claims and impossible promises to athletes and celebrities who swagger and flaunt from every angle possible, our society is full of fake confidence.

True confidence, on the other hand, is harder to spot because it’s less flashy and more humble. Genuinely confident people don’t feel the need to constantly prove themselves—they just go about their lives quietly confident.

Here’s a simple way to think about it:

False confidence hides insecurity. True confidence embraces it.


#2: Procrastinate compassionately

If you struggle with chronic procrastination, the long-term solution likely involves understanding the core psychology behind procrastination.

But if you aren’t quite ready for that kind of a major undertaking, here are a handful of quick tricks you can use to outwit your procrastination and stay focused.

1. Use the 2-minute drill

It’s a cliche that the hardest part of doing difficult work is just getting started. But a surprising amount of the time, that cliche is actually true.

Our resistance to doing work is very often all on the “front-end,” meaning that if you can even get started doing just a little bit of…

Nick Wignall

Psychologist and blogger. I help people use psychology for meaningful personal growth: https://nickwignall.com

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