I met a fantastic therapist at a recent Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Conference recently and he gave me one of the more powerful tools I have used to assist clients make a distinction between their valued direction in life and what their thoughts are telling them. I wish I could contact him and give him a link on this page, I will continue my search!
The tool is in the title of this blog. So I'm clearly being a bit of a tease. Obviously some background is necessary to give this powerful statement some context. ACT works on the premise that you are not your thoughts and feelings. Which means, just because you are experiencing a thought or emotion, does not mean you have to let those thoughts or emotions translate into a particular behavior. Particularly if that behavior is taking you away from the direction that you want to move in.
If you want to drink less alcohol, then the thought, "One more glass isn't really going to hurt", is not a thought that helps your goal of drinking less alcohol. That thought just lets you fall back into the path of least resistance (that is, you can turn your self-control off). This path of least resistance is evolutionarily adaptive. There was a time in evolution that we had to save our energy for survival tasks only just in case there were scarce times.
What if you could distance yourself from these thoughts. A thought is not necessarily coming from your instinct, gut-feeling, or a transcendent, rational "you" that knows what's best. Now what if you asked your brain the question "I wonder what my next thought is going to be?".
I will leave you with that little piece of Zen-like wisdom. Give me a call if you'd like to see how this can work for you.