Commit to Values-Based Action – Nancy

We’ve discussed the mental health strategy called “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy” several times in Moodsurfing (see below for links), and it’s an important feature of our Bipolar Disorder Workbook.  It’s a multifaceted approach, and there’s a lot to unpack. This post explores the “commitment” part of it all.

Once you’ve trained yourself to look squarely at your reality, without focusing on what you wish were real, or what “should” be real, it’s time to decide what to do about it.  Some parts of your current reality probably fit with the values you hold, and some parts may not fit.  Your values are what’s important to you: what you really want in your life.  Another word for it is “priorities”.  If you have a job, for example, you probably make it a priority to get to work each day and perform at least adequately on the job, because you value what you get from doing that job (at least a wage, if not some other value, like on the job training).

Try a quick exercise:

Here are ten things people often value.  Put them in order for yourself, the most valuable or important thing at the top down to the least important (to you) at the bottom.

  • Wealth
  • Family
  • Fame/prestige
  • Happiness
  • Adventure
  • Education/knowledge
  • Friendship
  • Children/offspring
  • Health
  • Love

Now ask yourself: How do my daily schedule and normal activities show that these highest desires are really the direction my life is moving?  For example, if health is one of your highest priorities, and you have determined that you need to improve your daily diet in order to get healthy, what steps are you taking to make sure your diet is appropriately healthy?  If what you discover from the exercise is that you’re not progressing towards your highest values, what specific barriers can you identify that could be worked on to make your progress better?

For the “commitment” step, choose one action for each of the top three value items and commit to taking that action on a regular basis until you are getting closer to where you want to be.  It’s easy to get distracted, and often writing down values and commitments of this type is a good way to keep them clear in your mind.  Let us know by commenting below how you are doing in progressing towards your values.