10 lessons 99 percent of people learn a bit too late in life, according to psychology

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Many of life’s hardest lessons come with age. 

But for the vast majority of people, there are some key lessons that end up passing them by until it’s too late. 

The crucial thing is to internalize valuable and powerful wisdom about life while you’re young enough to still put it to full use!

The result will be a much more meaningful and vitalistic life, full of connections, self-discovery and fulfilling purpose. 

So what are these key lessons that many don’t learn until it’s too late? Let’s take a look. 

1) Love yourself! 

There’s no substitute for loving yourself

This doesn’t mean you approve of everything you do or think that you’re perfect. 

But it means that on a fundamental level you validate yourself and affirm your worth in this universe. 

Instead of waiting for anybody else to tell you that you’re good enough, you affirm it to yourself on a deep level and know it truly and fully.

As psychotherapist Sharon Martin, DSW, LCSW writes:

“Self-love is accepting yourself wholeheartedly, treating yourself with kindness, and prioritizing your health.”

2) Be true to yourself

Life offers endless opportunities to lie about who you are and what you value. 

It could be a job, a relationship, a circle of friends or even the general admiration of society and the collective affirmation that you’re a “good person.”

Whatever it is that’s offered to you, it’s worth nothing if it’s built on a lie. 

No matter how far you get ahead in life and how many benefits you receive, it’s all trash if you’re not being true to yourself and what makes your heart beat fast. 

There are times you have to do a job you don’t like or put up with rough patches with somebody you care about: but the key is that you’re still fundamentally living a life that means something to you. 

If not, there’s a problem. 

Whether it’s love, work or the choices you make in life, if they’re not who you really are then they’re not worth it. 

3) Build your EQ

Life’s too short to block your feelings and end up tied in a pretzel because of being confused and frustrated by them. 

Building your emotional intelligence (EQ) is a vital life lesson that is sadly often taught through pain, breakups and many misunderstandings and broken connections. 

Getting in touch with how you feel and learning to be more aware of how others feel is a life lesson that can’t be learned too early. 

Having a higher EQ will serve you well in every area of life. 

“Emotional intelligence is an important set of skills that improve the quality of your life. And good news! These skills can be built, even as an adult,” explains psychology writer Tchiki Davis, PhD.

4) Learn the limits of control

There’s a very hard lesson that life teaches you in one way or another:

You can only control yourself. 

For many people this is a lesson that comes too late, or not at all. 

The reason is that it’s painful and difficult to accept that the actions, thoughts and feelings of other individuals are out of your control. 

This is especially true when that may mean that somebody you love doesn’t love you, or that your own parents don’t love you in the way you hope. 

But that’s not in your control.

What is in your control? What you do with your own emotions, thoughts and impulses in order to consciously build a life that’s meaningful to you. 

5) Delay gratification

We all want to win that jackpot, win the heart of the person of our dreams or pursue a career that ends up as a giant success. 

But many of these things don’t happen right away. In fact they may come when we least expect them, after years of blood, sweat and tears. 

Life teaches us a key lesson here: 

Delay gratification. 

We all want pleasure, payoff, victory. But it takes work. And it takes patience. If you take the low-hanging fruit you’ll never get to the ripest apple high up in the tree. Plus, you’re likely to get a bit lazy. 

As psychotherapist and author Ilene Strauss Cohen PhD. writes:

“Pleasure is central to our survival. We need things like food, water, and sex in order to survive and pass our genetic material on to the next generation. 

However, as we get older and mature, we must learn to tolerate the discomfort of delayed gratification if we have a greater purpose or goal in mind.”

6) Stay resilient

Life hits hard. 

No matter who we are, we will lose people we love and have our hearts broken in various ways. 

Any honest person will tell you that without any caveats. It’s just true. 

But what’s also true is that we have the capacity to take our sadness and frustration over disappointments and let-downs and build them into a rock-solid resilience.

Instead of running to an escape or addictive behaviors, we can choose to build a winner’s mentality that doesn’t let life’s punches have the final say. 

As the American Psychological Association notes:

“It may be tempting to mask your pain with alcohol, drugs, or other substances, but that’s like putting a bandage on a deep wound. Focus instead on giving your body resources to manage stress, rather than seeking to eliminate the feeling of stress altogether.”

7) Financial literacy

Understanding basic financial concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, and managing debt is essential. 

Even if you’re a very non-materialistic person, our world runs on money and productivity. 

Learning to manage money and have a positive relationship with the concept of money will set you up for success in having a cushion to pursue your other dreams. 

Many people grow up with a hostile attitude to money or taking it for granted; both are a mistake. 

Developing a balanced mindset with regard to money that understands that it’s not the purpose of life but that it is a useful tool for life is essential. 

“Your money mindset has a profound impact on your financial decisions and, ultimately, your financial success and happiness,” notes the Benson Financial Group.

“By understanding your money mindset and working to reshape it in a healthy and constructive way, you can take control of your finances and build a more secure and fulfilling financial future.”

8) Direct communication

Very few of us grow up in ideal households or without any frustrations and miscommunications in our childhood. 

That’s why learning to communicate effectively is far from a given. 

Many people are passive-aggressive without even realizing it, afraid to directly state their desire or needs and having a very frustrating life as a result!

Others go too far in assertiveness, becoming aggressive and egotistical without paying attention to the needs of others. 

The key, of course, is striking a middle balance and learning to confidently say what you mean but without being pushy. 

This is a life lesson that’s extremely valuable. 

9) Putting yourself first

Self-care matters enormously if you want to have a worthwhile life. 

Even the most beautiful, smart or well-loved person can’t rely on others to take care of them and put them as a priority. 

We need to do that for ourselves. 

Sometimes putting yourself first is hard. But it’s vital. 

If you don’t put yourself first sometimes, who will? 

At the end of the day you have to live with the consequences of your choices and priorities. Which is why it’s crucial to make sure that you value yourself and look after yourself in every way. 

There’s only one you! 

10) Memento mori

None of us are going to be here forever. 

When we reflect on the fact that we are mortal and will one day not be here (at least not in physical form) it’s like a cold shower in the morning. 

It clarifies everything and reminds us of what really matters and what we really want to accomplish in this life. 

It jumpstarts our entire value system and priorities so that we begin focusing our energy for real on what we want and what we care about. 

“Memento mori prompts us to reflect on our priorities and values,” notes psychology speaker and author Jodi Wellman, MAPP.

“When confronted with the idea of death, many of our trivial concerns and pursuits suddenly lose their significance. We are compelled to ask ourselves profound questions like, ‘What truly matters in my life?’”

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