In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often have to dispel misguided notions in my clients regarding how I can help them improve their emotional health and their relationships. Many people come to counselling expecting to be ‘cured’ by my identifying and fixing some problem they identify as the reason they or their relationships are not doing well.
Although addressing a major problem can often play a role in having good emotional health and fulfilling relationships, what usually makes the biggest difference is less dramatic—learning and practicing skills until they become habits. In the following sections, I will discuss why having habits is so important to achieving and maintaining good emotional health and thriving relationships.
Habits help you stay on track
Because habits become part of your routine, cultivating them is the best way to stay on track to prevent problems with your emotional health and your relationships. These problems typically stem from not practicing the skills which are the focus of your habits.
Habits focus on process rather than outcomes
Habits put the focus on performing actions which are completely within your control (process) rather than on attaining results which are in many instances beyond your control (outcomes). This makes achieving success in your emotional health and relationships less stressful and more manageable. Focusing on habits also improves your self-confidence as you know you are regularly taking steps to stay on track.
Habits allow you to face stressful events
Having good habits is like living a house with sound structure which can withstand the elements. In a similar way, having good habits allows you to maintain good emotional health and have thriving relationships in the face of stressful events which you will inevitably have to face.
Habits fit with how you succeed in other endeavours
Whether it’s work, school, sports, music, art, writing, carpentry or most other endeavors, practicing good habits is what it takes to succeed. Therefore, you do not have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ to achieve good emotional health and thriving relationships. Simply use the same personal qualities and skills which have allowed you to learn and stick to habits in other endeavours and ‘channel’ these qualities and skills into the habits which foster good emotional health and thriving relationships.
In upcoming articles, I will discuss specific habits which will help you to foster and maintain good emotional health and thriving relationships.
May you make a habit out of having good habits,