Life skills you were never taught

When it comes to creating a happy and successful life, most of us were introduced to a variety of traditional skills designed to get us there. Important habits like time management, creative thinking, communication and self-discipline are commonly celebrated as the master key to success.

Especially from childhood. Children are supposed to learn many life skills from their parents, tutors and relatives including how to take care of their own emotional and physical needs. These life skills are many but few include:

  • Love and Respect
  • Self-Belief and Self-Confidence
  • Emotional Management
  • Good Communication Skills
  • How to say no
  • How to accept rejection
  • How to know what you want
  • How to hear inner guidance
  • How to prioritize joy
  • How to put yourself first
  • How to appreciate what is
  • How to let go
  • How to ask for help
  • How to receive

Now, let’s examine together each of these life skills.

Love and Respect. Parents and guardians are supposed to teach their children to speak to themselves in a kind, understanding and compassionate manner. Children need to learn to respect their values and believes but to be brave enough to challenge whether they are correct or not. Kids need to be taught to respect their bodies and to set appropriate boundaries. They also need to know when to let go of people who do not respect them.

Children also need to learn to value, love, and respect others, accepting other beliefs and backgrounds. They need to learn not to force their beliefs onto others and to express opinions in a manner that respects other’s feelings.

If any of these skills is missing, the child grows into an adult who not only does not love and respect themselves but also lacks respect for others.

Self-Belief and Self-Confidence. These two qualities can only be learned through experience, and it is up to parents to instill in their children to have self-belief. This belief system allows children to have the courage to take the necessary risks to further themselves in the world.

Teaching children that there is no such thing as a failure only opportunities to learn sets them up to try new things and to accept their faults. These kids will be more confident and competent in everything they do.

When parents do not teach their kids self-belief and self-confidence, they allow their children to internalize any mistakes they might make and to wallow in their failures. Children whose parents did not teach them self-belief and self-confidence grow into adults who are afraid to try new things and would rather be a follower rather than a leader.

Emotional Management. Learning to manage one’s emotions is one of the most important things a parent can teach their child. Children learn emotional management from watching their parent’s example, and if the parent does not regulate their own emotions, the child will not either.

The result is adults who are ruled by their emotions and who will be unable to respond appropriately to emotional stimuli. When faced with feeling depressed or scared, these adults are unable to act, and if nothing changes, nothing changes.

These adults become caught in a cycle.

Good Communication Skills. The success of adults both professionally and personally relies upon the quality of their communication skills. Parents are to teach their children to use and listen to both verbal and non-verbal communications and respond with authenticity, sensitivity, and actively.

When children are not taught to listen to others, they grow up to be adults who are unable to cultivate respectful relationships both at work and at home. Forming deep and lasting relationships becomes extremely difficult when communication skills are compromised by a lack of parenting.

How to say no.

Most of us were trained to accommodate the desires of others rather than to honor our personal preferences. Even when we do manage to wriggle out of something we don’t want to do, it’s not unusual to feel guilty in declining the request. But make no mistake; learning to say no (and feel fine about it) is an essential skill for successful living.

How to accept rejection.

From the very beginning as young children who were dependent on others for survival, we learned to value acceptance and approval from others. It can trigger strong feelings of fear when we don’t receive that approval. Yet fear of rejection keeps many of us from following our biggest dreams. Learning that it’s okay even when others don’t agree is key to happiness.

How to know what you want.

In learning to navigate the world many of us become experts at discerning what others want and prioritizing their desires in an attempt to win affection and approval. This is not a habit that leads to personal fulfillment. Learning to identify what you truly desire – and having the courage to honor it – isn’t something most of us were taught but is absolutely essential for success.

How to hear inner guidance.

As a common parenting technique we were trained to listen to our parents, and then our teachers, without any attention given to hearing our own inner wisdom. Learning to tune into that guidance is a skill that contributes greatly to a happy life. You’ll go far learning to recognize and follow the wisdom within.

How to prioritize joy.

Many cultures teach that work comes first and the reward is later – if we’re lucky. We pay our dues up front and hope to earn our desserts. But stress and misery are too often the result of this life approach. Being willing to front-load life with happiness and joy is the wiser path to true success.

How to put yourself first.

Selfishness is often criticized and selflessness revered in our society. Yet we are useless to the world when we haven’t taken care of ourselves first. Learning to practice effective self-care allows us to be of highest service to the passions that fill our heart, which makes for better world citizens.

How to let go.

Most of us are taught to persevere no matter the pain or cost because anything we want is worth working hard for. And yet struggle and sacrifice often just lead to unrewarding results where we’re worn out and miserable. Those in the know understand that unhappy journeys don’t have happy endings, which makes knowing when to give up an essential life skill.

How to appreciate what is.

More, bigger, better, and faster is the focus many folks engage in their pursuit of happiness. But if we don’t learn how to appreciate the present moment and enjoy what life offers right now, it’s hopeless that we ever will. One of the most worthwhile practices we can master is becoming thankful for what is.

How to ask for help.

Our fear of rejection and unwillingness to impose upon others (and also perhaps our desire for independence) often keep us from requesting the help we need to achieve what we most want. We become “world class askers” in pursuit of our greatest dreams because nothing great is ever created in isolation. Learning to ask for support is undoubtedly a key success skill.

How to receive.

Typically we learn to be good givers and are actually uncomfortable on the receiving end, even when it’s something as simple as a compliment or a favor. Because our culture exalts acts of giving, it’s easy for us to lack the skills of receiving. This is a success habit worth mastering, however, since our dreams remain out of reach until we know how to let the good stuff in.

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