The Shortest Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need

June 6, 2011
  1. Life keeps presenting us with a choice between anxiety and depression. Choose anxiety; it passes. Depression hangs on. The anxiety is apprehension over breaking with routine ways of behaving and relating. When we break out of ruts, that anxiety passes. When we give in to routine out of fear, we feel helpless and that leads to feeling depressed.
  2. Take care of yourself; no one can do it for you. Only we can take responsibility for our health, our relationships and our family and work lives. When we don’t, others step in to do it. They fail, leaving us feeling intruded on and angry and them feeling helpless and resentful.
  3. The best gift you can give your children is to take care of yourself. That way, they won’t feel they have to and they can go about the business of growing up or being themselves.
  4. Relationships are not a matter of guesswork. In fact, when we rely on guessing what someone thinks and feels, we get worse at it over time. Ask! Find out what is going on. Speak up! Let your partner, or whoever the other person is, know what you think, feel and want.
  5. Depression arises from some combination of our biology and our emotional-interpersonal history. The emotional-interpersonal contribution to depression comes from feeling responsible for someone or something you have no control over. Give up the illusion of control.
  6. You can’t make anybody happy. Stop trying. Happiness for you and others is a by-product of living a deeply satisfying life.
  7. It cannot happen that only one person feels helpless in a relationship. The fact that you are feeling powerless doesn’t mean that your partner isn’t. Your partner feels helpless, even if it’s in a different way.
  8. The faster negative emotion rises and the higher it goes, the less it has to do with the present moment. Emotional elements of the distant past are being triggered. Take time to figure out what is setting you off.
  9. You can’t say “yes” to another until you can say “no.” Only when we are free from the compulsion to act or be certain way can we be genuinely responsive to others, particularly those closest to us.

Michael D’Antonio, PhD, is a Senior Staff Therapist at Council for Relationships’ Paoli Office. He can be reached at 610-889-0419.