Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) teaches users a technique called “Acceptance Self-Talk”. This is a series of exercises that trains people to substitute new thoughts for old ones and encourages them to evaluate their thoughts and accept only what seems true and helpful.
Depression is often characterized by recurrent negative thoughts that drag one down and become barriers to taking control and moving forward. For example, “I can’t go on” or “no one likes me” become themes of the mind and are very hard to remove. ACT teaches users to identify these recurrent thoughts and subject them to evaluation. Replacing an old, negative thought with a new one, like “this is a really hard time in my life, but I’m working on strategies to get beyond it” allows you to begin to move forward again.
Try this exercise:
Following the examples, generate some examples of your own negative “old” thoughts, and practice some possible substitutes.
|OLD THOUGHT||NEW THOUGHT|
|I can’t go on||This is a difficult period, but I’ll get through it|
|It’s not fair||Everybody has problems, and I can manage mine|
|I’m a failure||I’ve made some mistakes, but I can learn from them|
|I shouldn’t be feeling this way||Feelings are what they are, and if I accept what they are, I don’t have to struggle with them|
If you have to willingness to look squarely at what your thoughts really are, and how you are really feeling about them, you have opened the road to more control over the interactions between your thoughts, feelings and behavior, which will allow you to build a foundation for living according to your own highest values.
For more on this topic, see the Moodsurfing posts below:
And: check out our new “Bipolar Disorder Workbook” now available on Amazon.