Long Distance Relationships – Survive & Thrive Apart

Maybe your partner is attending school in a different state or serving in the military. Maybe you met through a friend and had a connection that seemed interesting enough to pursue from afar. Long distance relationships can be hard to maintain, due to time differences, mismatched schedules, and lack of physical contact, but they can be worth the work.

What Makes a Long Distance Relationship Work?

As in any relationship, communication is key. Long distance relationships have to rely on verbal communication since couples are not regularly face to face. Partners should set aside time to talk regularly. Sharing an online calendar can help both of you know when the other is available. Partners should agree on the mode of communication, as some couples prefer talking on the phone, while others like video chatting. It can be harder to be spontaneous and romantic so both partners have to make an effort, planning different ways to mix it up (see below). Communicating about the future is also crucial to success. Since a long distance relationship is never the end goal, it’s good to talk about where you’re going.

Activities for Long Distance Couples

People can feel frustrated that they’re unable to go out on dates, growing increasingly bored of talking on the phone and texting. The following are a list of activities long distance couples can do to make things more interesting.

Personality/compatibility tests.

Couples can enjoy learning more about each other and their relationship by taking online quizzes. Examples can be found at Similarminds.com and Typefinder.com.

Choose a book to read together.

Set goals for how many chapters to read each week and make a date to discuss it together.

Cook together, taking turns to choose a recipe.

You each gather your own recipes, then video chat together while making the recipe in each of your respective kitchens. If you want, you can even dress nice, light a candle, and have a glass of wine with your meal to recreate the dating atmosphere as much as possible.

Play some simple verbal games together.

Mad Libs, 20 Questions, 2 Truths and a Lie, Truth or Dare, etc.

Exercise together.

Couples can video chat while exercising, competing or pushing each other to meet certain goals. The goal is not to limit yourself to just talking on the phone. Think about how you can modify activities you would enjoy doing together in person.

How to Keep Having Interesting Conversations in a Long Distance Relationship

There is the potential to get bored, stuck in a predictable rut. Here are some tips for keeping the conversation lively.

Change up your settings

Talking while on a walk or finding a new quiet place to chat are great ways to share an experience while apart.

Ask more detailed questions.

Instead of “How was your day?” ask “What was the best and worst part of the day?” If your girlfriend tells you she read a book, ask more about what types of things she likes to read.

Keep a daily diary but share it.

Jot down interesting things that happen throughout the day, including funny stories, things that would stand out to him, things you know would amuse your partner.

Google “conversation starters”.

A quick search on Google will help you come up with some great ideas. The first few items we found were asking “what it was like to grow up in a certain area” or something goofier like “what it would be like to be a dog for a day” (yeah, you might pass on that one).

Be honest.

If you find it’s hard to talk some days, tell your partner. You might be tired, and it would be better to end the conversation than let it drag on. Maybe someone is bothered by something, and mentioning that you can tell something is wrong can help bring it to the surface.

Be active outside the relationship.

Sometimes conversations can be boring because you’re not doing anything! Long distance relationships can end up taking all of your time, energy, and emotion. Invest in your relationship, but also invest in friends, family, hobbies, and interests. This gives you more things to talk about and keeps your relationship healthier as well.

Spicing Up a Long Distance Relationship

Some of the above mentioned ideas can help you communicate better and try new things. Here are some additional ways to spice things up and keep the romance alive.

Email time capsule.

At Futureme.org, you can create emails filled with romantic memories about your relationship and schedule them to send at a certain time.

Grow plants together, by planting the seeds at the same time.

This can be a fun competition between the two of you and also creates a visible reminder of your relationship.

Snail mail.

Writing each other handwritten letters can be very romantic. Another option is writing to each other in a journal that you send back and forth.

Special delivery.

Have food or flowers delivered to your significant other. Another way to send surprise gifts is through Amazon.

Sexual intimacy.

Sex is a natural part of any relationship. Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy having it with each other. It’s just a little different. Sexting and cybersex are ways of keeping up the physical intimacy in your long distance relationship. But be smart about it by practicing safe sexting!

Moving In Together After a Long Distance Relationship

Moving in together after time apart feels amazing. You are finally together! No more long distance! There will be more physical intimacy, less screen time. It’s also really important to express expectations to each other. Are there any ground rules and boundaries that should be discussed? What are our future plans? Who is going to vacuum? Is it OK to leave dishes in the sink? Couples can have problems if their unspoken expectations don’t match reality.

It’s also important to have some space. You’ve been comfortable living separate lives for a while, with certain habits and routines. Avoid stressing each other out by respecting your significant other’s needs for alone time.

When to End a Long Distance Relationship

Long distance relationships should end if you’re never going to end up living in the same place as your significant other. This can occur due to geographical preferences or work restraints. A breakup is also needed for partners whose futures don’t match up for any other reason, such as desires for children, religious beliefs, or other non-negotiables. Long distance relationships should end when there is intense, unsolvable jealousy. It is normal to feel a little jealous and curious about what a long distance partner is doing, but without trust and support, the relationship becomes unhealthy. Constant fighting, lying, or flirting with others are also warning signs. The main sign a long distance relationship can be supportive is if both partners miss each other but can still be happy in the moment, not always having to look to the future for fulfillment or joy.

Learn How to Love Yourself and Beat your Inner Critic

Learning to Love Yourself

by Rebecca Bergen, PhD

Self-esteem, self-worth…how do you feel about yourself?  One of the top reasons people seek out counseling is due to the effects of a negative relationship with oneself. Think about it, our relationship we have with ourselves is the most important one we will ever have! Who is the only “person” you will always be with? You! Who knows all that you have been through, your inner-most thoughts, your hopes, dreams, and struggles? You! So often, people have an internal relationship with themselves that is wrought with criticism, negativity, a lack of compassion, and involves holding oneself to unrealistic standards that only result in disappointment and regret. This is a difficult person to be with all the time, right? So what does it really mean to love yourself?

Identify the Critical Voice

So how does this negative sense of self develop? It depends on the individual, but oftentimes we can look into your past and find relationships with people earlier in life in which you heard negative messages about yourself, in particular in reaction to times when you made mistakes or fell short of your goals. These relationships could be with parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, or peers including friends, bullies or early romantic relationships. These early messages may have been that you were not good enough, that you must be perfect all of the time, or that something was wrong with you. These messages can get encoded in our minds so much so that we start to actually believe them ourselves, even though they are an unhealthy way of responding to mistakes and are extreme and distorted. As we develop and grow up, these thoughts can become our own thoughts about ourselves which leads to negative, damaging internal self-talk that often results mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Tame Your Inner Critic

Other people might look back at their early relationships and not be able to find overt messages that were negative. For some, they develop these harsh, critical, inner voices because they may think it will motivate themselves to achieve high success or avoid making mistakes. Looking in the mirror and thinking, “I’m so fat and lazy, I’ve got to start eating better and exercising.” When this approach seems to lead to short term success, you are motivated to keep talking to yourself in this negative, critical voice. The problem with this approach is that although you may reach your goal (you may not though), the path to get there results in negative feelings, self-loathing, and ultimately not only the loss of enjoyment in reaching the goal, but being less motivated over time.

You can start thinking and feeling differently about yourself! You do not have to be subjected to the negative messages you heard growing up as a child. Also, you can achieve success without putting yourself down whenever you fall short of your goal. Loving oneself is a foundational aspect of changing these internal negative self-thoughts. Adopting the belief that you have worth because you are alive and a human being is a powerful idea to explore. One workbook that is helpful in exploring and understanding this concept comes from Dr. Glen Schiralidi entitled The Self-Esteem Workbook. Dr. Schiralidi (2001) writes, “Unconditional human worth means that you are important and valuable as a person because your essential, core self is unique, precious, of infinite, eternal unchanging value, and good. Unconditional human worth implies that you are as precious as any other person.” (p. 29). In the book, it helps you explore how your worth is separate from external aspects of life like grades, work success, money, validation from others, and appearance.

Shift from External Esteem to Internal Worth

When we tie our worth to these externals, our sense of self-worth will fluctuate as these aspects of life will inevitably change and fluctuate. The key is to discover and establish a sense of your self-worth that is intrinsic and unchanging. When you are able to discover self-love that is unchanging and connected to the core of you, you may still feel disappointment or upset when you make mistakes or when life is difficult, but you are unlikely to feel self-hatred and engage in negative, self-critical talk which can lead to more extensive suffering and mental health issues. The result in discovering a sense of self-love is that you will be able to adopt more self-compassion, and identify ways to use the challenges of life as a way to grow and change. Part of this new way of thinking involves accepting that we are always “works in progress” and that each day is an opportunity to grow closer to our potential. We do not tie our sense of worth to external life outcomes and therefore we are able to keep our motivation high and our self-worth and self-esteem stable as we proceed to improve our life and reach our goals.


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas Edison

A psychologist named Carol Dweck, Ph.D. has conducted research and written a book on developing a growth mind set in order to be more successful in life. This type of thinking can be a healthy alternative to the critical voice that stems from poor self-worth and self-esteem. In her book, “Mindset” (2008), she discusses her research on how people cope with failures and identified two types of mindsets that people tend to have; fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. She describes how people with fixed mindsets believe their qualities and abilities are set and cannot be changed. Therefore negative outcomes in life or negative messages heard from others are experienced as unchangeable within themselves. In her research she found that fixed mindset individuals often give up easily, lose motivation because they start to not believe they can grow and change, and even those who do succeed, tend to not enjoy their succeed and feel like nothing they do is ever good enough. Alternatively, she describes how people with growth mindsets, the belief that your qualities are cultivated and developed though your efforts, tend to have a passion for learning, they are motivated to learn more or try a different method if they fall short of their goal. She states that a growth mindset “allows people to thrive during some of the challenging times of their life” (p. 7). Individuals with a growth mindset are actually more successful and enjoy their success.

Adopting a growth mindset, while also working to find a stable sense of your self-worth, can be the antidote to many individuals struggle with anxiety and depression when the core of the issue is a lack of feeling self-love and self-worth. Embarking on exploring and changing these aspects of yourself can be difficult to do alone. Reading self-help books like The Self-Esteem Workbook and Mindset can be great places to start. You may find that seeking out individual or group therapy may be an additional way to understand yourself and start to challenge and reshape the way you think and feel about yourself.

Schiralid, G.R. (2001). The Self-Esteem Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

Dweck, C.S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

How to Get in Touch with Your Emotions

We’re not always encouraged to get in touch with our emotions. We strive to turn a happy face to the world, keeping up the facade displayed on our social media pages. We often feel pressure to put on a front for “likes” so we show people the fun vacations and the pretty food, not the crying baby or the embarrassing work meeting. It’s seems important to show our best selves to others and to appear strong, independent, and upbeat.

We then fall into the trap of comparing our real lives with “highlight reels” of others on social media all while feeling pressure to keep up our own “everything is great” exterior. Sometimes though, these images we portray to others don’t show the whole picture. We might be depressed or have a bad day or lose a job. This all leads to us to potentially feel isolated from other people. So what is the importance of both understanding and sharing our emotions?

How to Get in Touch With Your Feelings

You may be thinking, “OK that’s great, emotional awareness matters, but how do I become more aware?” The following are some suggestions for learning more about your feelings and how to talk about them in helpful ways.

Name the emotions you experience.

Often we think of the easy ones, such as anger, happiness, sadness, fear, but as we become adults, our emotions become more nuanced. Learn to identify less commonly named ones, including shock, shame, anxiety, disgust, boredom, amusement, desperation, doubt, etc. Use a thesaurus or search for a mood chart online to give you new ideas.

Learn to identify your feelings correctly.

We may automatically assume that we are angry if we yell, but it’s possible to cover up feelings of sadness or embarrassment with things that look like anger to make us feel less vulnerable. Take the time to look below the surface symptoms and see what’s really going on underneath.

Track a particular emotion throughout the day.

Pick a feeling and follow it. Let’s say “joyfulness.” Jot down how many times you feel joyful throughout the day. Write notes about who you’re with, what time it is, where you are, what you’re doing, and how intense the emotion is. This can be a helpful exercise in learning what to embrace or avoid in your daily life to help manage your feelings better.

Push through and seek support when it seems difficult.

If we’ve buried our emotions for a long time, it can be very painful to face them. Often it can seem like things are getting worse before we learn to deal with how we feel. Don’t give up before you receive the healing benefits of getting more in tune with yourself! Seek help from trusted friends, counselors, religious organizations, and support groups if it seems too difficult to do alone.

Express emotions in healthy ways.

Once we’ve learned to name and track emotions, we need to learn what to do with them. Understanding our emotions may lead us to have healthy conversations with loved ones. We can share what we’ve learned about ourselves to others, receiving support and providing empathy for one another. Other ways that people deal with emotions include exercising, meditating, prayer, creating or listening to music, writing poetry, painting, or journaling. Find out what helps you to process your emotions, and be as creative as you want!

Pay attention to your body.

Take a moment to pause right now. Take a deep breathe. What does your body feel like right this moment? Often we experience physical sensations that are associated with emotions, and we can learn to recognize our feelings based on our physical symptoms. For example, anger is often felt between the chest and head, while fear is usually felt between the stomach and chest. These sensations can include tightness, numbness, agitation, and nausea. Different people will have different physical sensations so learn what your body is telling you about your emotions.

Is Emotional Awareness Important?

Emotional awareness is an often neglected skill. Some studies show that only 1 in 3 of us has the ability to correctly assess our feelings. This is significant because our emotions usually point towards important truths about ourselves. Our feelings come from our deepest desires, hopes, needs, and goals. If we don’t know what we’re feeling and why, we risk leaving crucial needs and longings unmet, potentially perpetuating a cycle of anger or unhappiness. Keeping feelings hidden can also lead to emotional breakdowns. Imagine a pipe that is blocked, emotions building up like water, trying to get through to the other side. Eventually the pipe will burst, causing chaos. Lack of emotional awareness can also lead to unhealthy ways of coping, such as addiction, overeating, negative relationships, and angry outbursts.

The Myth of Negative Emotions

A lot of people believe that it’s only healthy to have positive emotions, such as happiness, joy, and contentment, but that negative emotions like fear, anxiety, or sadness are inappropriate. We need to dispel this myth if we are going to get in touch with our feelings. Anger, for example, is not inherently negative. It can show us when we have an unfulfilled need or a frustration with crossed boundaries. A person that feels angry should examine where the anger is coming from so he or she can resolve the issue. Anger becomes a problem only when it is exhibited un-checked, hurting us and those around us. If you’ve watched the Pixar movie Inside Out, you’ll have learned that sadness isn’t always negative either. It can help us be more empathetic, more sensitive to the needs of others. It’s not the emotions that cause problems for us, but the way they fester and burst if we ignore them.

How Can Teenagers Deal with Emotions?

When we’re children, we experience very basic emotions, without many words to express ourselves. The older we get, the more complicated our emotions become. We are eventually able to have multiple feelings at the same time and have a wider spectrum of emotion words to use. When we are teenagers, we are learning how to deal with these new moods. It’s important to remember that our peers are experiencing these same changes. We’re not crazy because we don’t always immediately know why we’re crying or becoming angry. It can help to use some of the above tips, to journal our thoughts, and to talk to a trusted adult who has gone through this before.

How Can Being In Tune with My Feelings Help My Relationships?

Talking to your partner about how each of you expresses different emotions can help you learn to recognize feelings in each other. A person could assume that his partner is happy when she talks a lot because this is how he behaves, but she may actually talk more when she is nervous and uncomfortable. Conversations about emotions can teach people to care better for each other.

We all have emotions every day, even when we do not realize it. They are powerful indicators of our needs, goals, longings, and desires. When we are in tune with them, they can point us in directions of growth so we can reach our full potentials and receive the support we need. Ignoring these feelings may be easy in the moment but can have serious repercussions for our relationships and our mental health. Learning about our emotions can help us be more empathetic people, know our strengths and weaknesses, make better choices, and ask for what we need.

Does Time Heal All Wounds? Well…No, Not Exactly.

We rarely get through any period of grief, loss, or disappointment without someone repeating the old adage “time heals all wounds” or “just give it some time“—and it is not always welcomed. When the pain is raw, the words almost sound callous and insensitive whether or not the intent is there. Sometimes we even hear the words said to us in our own voice. And yet, there are moments in our lives when we feel as though our broken hearts will never heal. Somehow, through the hopelessness and despair, we are expected to believe that our pain will heal. Why does everyone repeat this saying?

A few words of wisdom

Consider the phrase in context. Words often change meaning as they travel across history, language, and culture. Maybe there is a deeper meaning to the phrase. Not everyone encounters the same amount or type of grief, but most people experience some form of it, at some point during their lifetime. There is a certain amount of shared experience throughout humanity.

Perhaps we can find some consolation in that – the fact that we are not alone in our suffering. In the past, that was really all we had to help us through difficult time – each other.

Does time does heal all wounds? Well…no, not really. There are undoubtedly more accurate statements to be made, such as “many physical wounds will heal over time” or “there appears to be a connection between physical pain and emotional pain.” Of course, the old-fashioned “wisdom” comes from a time when knowledge did not need to be qualified by science or measured with precise accuracy. Still, there may be some therapeutic value to many of the old sayings. They are repeated for a reason. Analogies may not be exact, but they can be helpful in explaining complicated ideas. Sorrow is indeed a long and arduous journey. Discovering simple truths may bring some comfort along the way.

Emotional first-aid

Emotional wounds are complex. True, there are symptoms and causes of emotional ailments. But you can’t place bandaids on your emotions. Most of us can look at a physical injury and give a fair estimate of how much pain another person is in, and how much medical attention they will likely need. The grieving process is far more intricate because of the way details contrast from person to person. However, there are still a few comparisons that can be made. Like physical wounds, emotional wounds have variable degrees of pain. Most wounds aren’t life-threatening, but they can still be serious. The pain needs some kind of attention right away. This is where emotional first aid comes in.

In the exact moment that we are hurt, we aren’t always thinking rationally. We tend to react involuntarily. We cry, we lash out, we recoil in fear. The pain shocks us, even if we were expecting it. We might look away. We might not tell anyone that it hurts. We may not be able to admit we need help. It’s important to understand that the healing process will not begin immediately. This is part of what makes that saying so frustrating, especially in the modern era.

Time is valuable to us.

We are cautious of the ways we use it. We may feel guilty for spending too much of it on ourselves. We should understand that some point, we will need to examine our pain and develop a rational plan of action. In the meantime, we can learn about emotional injuries and how to practice emotional first aid.

A time for hurting

Beyond the physical pain of an injury, we do not suffer many negative emotions, assuming the injury is not part of some larger emotional trauma. If we slice a finger by accident, we may have a moment or two where we reflect on being careless, but we move on fairly quickly. If this is the third time we cut our finger this week, then the experience can become more intense. The physical pain doesn’t necessarily change, but the associated emotions are easily affected.

Individual factors can play a big role when it comes to emotional pain. The way we process our feelings is important. Feelings may change over time, for better or worse. In that sense, it seems as though time could be more of a contributor to our emotional pain then the healer of it.

Deep, complex emotions are associated with trauma and loss. There are a number of different emotions that can be felt at the same time, at different times, and for varying lengths of time. There are different stages of grief. Being able to identify and accept all of these feelings can be exhausting and time consuming. If we are unable to accept feelings as they are, then they start to pile up. They become compounded with unnecessary extra feelings. Now, not only are we sad, but we are feeling guilty about feeling sad. Then maybe we feel ashamed that we feel guilty about feeling sad, because we know we deserve to feel sad, and that makes us angry at ourselves. Emotions tend to feed off each other if they are not given proper attention.

A time for healing

Healing time is fragile, whether we are healing physically or emotionally. We are sensitive, irritable, and more susceptible to infection. We may have a habit of picking at open wounds, even if we know better. In times of emotional healing, we have to make a conscious effort not to pick at ourselves, or else we can’t expect to heal properly. Continuously replaying tragic events or inventing “what-if” scenarios can be especially harmful to us when we are in this vulnerable state of mind. We have to remember to take care of ourselves throughout the healing process

No matter how much time passes, or how well we heal, our wounds leave us with scars. Emotional scars can be ugly sometimes. In our search for answers, we may be lead down unknown paths, some of which can be very dangerous. We have to ask the questions that will lead us to the best answers. We may consider how time affects our individual grief. We consider how our perception could change. We know that simply believing in something doesn’t make it true. Faith leaves our hearts open to the possibility that something could be true. Healing comes from new perspectives, which need time to develop. There is really no simple way to explain that. So here it is again: Time heals all wounds.

A wrinkle in time

Time, of course, does not actually possess the ability to do anything. Time is an abstract concept. The best way to understand time is to experience it. Likewise, the best way to discover if time can help an individual’s healing process is for that person to simply experience the process, over time.

Emotional pain is an unsettling concept, in part because there are no absolutes. Perhaps something was lost in translation, and the phrase carries a new connotation. The other possibility is that there is a bit of rogue humor behind those four little words. Before modern psychology, there was not much to help reconcile the harsh realities of human emotion. Our ancestors saw how unfair life could be, and they recognized the absurdity in that. Like us, some experienced tremendous pain, grief and loss while others did not. There has never been any reason behind it, but we will always search for it. That is the endurance of the human spirit. Time passes by. We survive as we repeat our own words of wisdom.

Do Self Help Books Really Work?

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On the road of life, you’re going to fall down once in awhile, getting cuts and bruises in the process. When you have a cut, you look for a band aid. But when you have an emotional injury, identifying the proper treatment method can be more difficult. How do you know when your emotional injury is treatable at home or whether you need to see a clinical therapist trained in treating depression?

It’s common to self-treat through a variety of positive and negative means. Self-help books can be powerful guides on the road to recovery. But they can also produce feelings of inadequacy and guilt on readers who are in a vulnerable state of mind. So how do you know if seeking a self-help book for depression is the right choice for you?

Doing a brief search on Amazon for “self-help and depression” reveals hundreds of titles promising relief from depression. Books of this genre promote personal transformation through a wide range of methods, all of which can be done independently. The modern American consumer is drawn to the philosophy of self-help – the industry is growing and does $10 billion per year. As the self-help industry continues to increase in popularity, however, we are often reminded that quantity does not necessarily equal quality.

How does a reader find “good” self-help books?

Self-help is a broad category, and to be fair, not all self-help books are the same. Along with the flashy, quick-fix titles are a number of well-written books offering reasonable advice. Many of these, such as Greenberger and Padesky’s Mind over Mood, come highly recommended by professionals and include practical exercises built around the evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

The search for a proper self-help book should be treated similarly to the search for a qualified therapist. Ask for references from friends, family and medical professionals. Do your research on the author. Some authors may hire ghostwriters to complete their works for them. Or, the author may have been well respected in the past but has since lost credibility. Make sure the author is considered to be a reliable, current source of information.

Try to read a sample of the book before purchasing or borrowing it. This can be easily done on Amazon for most books. Look for a “tone” or voice in the writing that you connect with. Reading a book that feels like work will be incredibly difficult. You need to find one that motivates you to continue progressing through the chapters.

Who are self-help books good for – and who shouldn’t rely on them?

The benefits of self-help books often depend on the reader’s state-of-mind. Does the reader believe they can achieve exceptional results – or do they feel helpless?

Depression can cause individuals to experience feelings of the latter, making it difficult for them to benefit from self-help books in their current mindset. For this reason, some of the most useful self-help books are in the “personal development” category. These books focus on improving one’s mindset and on forming healthy habits of behavior. Once these patterns are established, it becomes much easier to follow problem-focused guides aimed at correcting specific, complicated issues in one’s life. Without a solid foundation of positive thought and faith in one’s abilities, the odds are against the reader.

At what point are self-help books not enough?

The very nature of self-help books requires the reader to be capable of working through logical steps to solve a problem. However, individuals with clinical depression are plagued with irrational thought. Most self-help books will take a logical approach to this problem: replace irrational thoughts with rational ones. This may be helpful to some, but remember that a depressed individual is often incapable of maintaining positive, rational thoughts. This is not a flaw of the individual, but a symptom of the condition. Here is where the paradox begins to unfold. A depressed individual encounters a conundrum when attempting self-help; that is, effective treatment is dependent on the individual’s state of mind. That is quite a challenge to face.

A common theme in self-help is the endorsement of positive affirmations. The individual engages in positive self-talk about themselves; with the expected result that they will be able to overcome their negative self-image. Affirmations are repeated until they are accepted as reality. Unfortunately, people with ongoing depression often struggle with this method. They are rarely motivated enough to follow through with the exercises and generally lack the confidence required to believe they are capable of change. To make matters worse, failure to complete tasks creates further complications for someone who is already experiencing low self-worth.

Try to imagine the frustration that manifests. A reader, desperate for answers, discovers time after time that reading self-help material just isn’t helping. He assumes that he must be flawed in some way, as this is consistent with the belief that his situation is hopeless. You can see how easily this can translate into a self-fulfilling prophecy and further magnify depression.

Can a person overcome adversity on their own using self-help literature?

It’s possible. However, embarking on a journey of self-discovery is anything but easy. A person is often faced with harsh realities and can experience a number of difficult emotions. Some of the strongest held negative beliefs are deeply rooted in past trauma. It is more beneficial to work with someone that can help build self-reliance, rather than attempt to navigate through a series of general exercises. An experienced therapist can help keep the individual grounded in reality so they can avoid the dangers of self-help.

As humans, it is only natural that we are drawn towards the path of least resistance. A quick fix solution is far more attractive to the average person than the reality of what it takes for cognitive restructuring to take place. We are incredibly driven to improve our lives, but at the same time we are emotional and sensitive to criticism. We are often our own worst critic but for some, there is a very real need to seek professional treatment for negative self-thoughts. Often the best course of action is to seek out a trusted therapist in your area, meet with them and ask for a reference list of reading material to help you. This is the safest solution for you and offers the greatest chance at achieving successful results for the long-term.