What Works or Doesn't Work

On a daily basis, we tend to judge ourselves, others, and everything around us. Meaning we place a certain value like "good or bad" or "right or wrong" on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. For example, "I want to go to the gym but I'm tired, so this must mean I'm lazy. Being lazy is bad."

The cognitive premise is that we feel the way we think. If we can begin to change the way we think (judge in this case) we can start changing the way we feel. Below are some exercises that may help you figure out how to begin to ask yourself without judgment what is working for me or not working for me, or another way to put it is how is this helpful or not helpful.  

Take a few minutes to think about challenges or life stressors that you might currently be experiencing, then write in depth about it. Don't rush writing and try not to censor what you write. Next, what have you done to deal with it that has been helpful, and what has not been helpful? 

You may have chosen unhealthy ways to deal with your challenges. Be it over eating, working too much, too much TV, internet, or cell phone, or as whatever you define it to be. At times, these coping mechanisms often feel like they help initially, yet over time they become part of the problem. In dealing with your life stressors, what have you tried that just didn’t seem to work or be helpful? Just sit and think for a minute with this before you answer. Pay attention to any judgments that come up for you. Then, whatever arises write down your thoughts and feelings without censoring. 

Next, identify what hopes you have. Hope can assist in reducing life stress, as it changes our perceptions and thoughts. What do you hope for? What do you hope will be different? What do you hope for right in this moment? 

Getting in touch with what helps, what hasn’t helped, and hopes is a powerful step in your journey toward well-being and less life stress. You may be learning for the first time what is truely supportive to you. This will help you be more aware of how your thoughts are influencing your mental state and also your behaviors. You may be realizing what doesn’t serve you, which will help motivate you to refrain from ineffective behaviors that bring you further away from your healthy goals. Getting in touch with your hopes brings you closer to your full potential and happiness.