Prioritizing our mental health is a key ingredient in recovery. The way we view ourselves can have a big impact on how we succeed in life. We all can experience thoughts that are less than kind to who we are and what we do, but it is important to realize that they are just thoughts. Ultimately we are all worthy of living great lives, and we should all embrace our potential!
Throughout life, people may have been told by others: “Just have positive thoughts, and everything will work out!” or “Do not think so negatively of yourself!” While both of these statements have truth to them, they are not always easily achieved. Everyone has bad days and everyone experiences a variety of emotions, both good and bad. When it comes down to it, everyone also can not help but have negative thoughts at times. Instead of trying to completely block out any negative thoughts from ever crossing our minds, we can learn to embrace and work through those thoughts.
ACT stands for acceptance and commitment therapy. This style of therapy is relatively new and has been largely utilized within the last 50 years. ACT is an evidence-based approach that teaches people that while thoughts of stress and dislike may be uncomfortable, they are just thoughts and a part of the moment. Accepting that the bad is also intertwined with the good can help people push through negative thoughts. Taking the time to think about what our values are, we can connect them to our behavior in a commitment to change for the better in our lives.
If someone is struggling with time management and becomes frustrated with themselves for always being late, ACT would have them look at the bigger picture instead of beating themselves up over it. What aspects of my life are causing me to be late? What can I change to manage my time better? Taking a step back to accept the issue, realizing what is being affected by the issue, and committing to change can help one’s overall mental health and life altogether.
Becoming More Mindful
One of the main ideas behind ACT is to utilize being more mindful as a way to process emotions and thoughts as they come. Our society is fast-paced and can pressure individuals to always be on the go and always be doing something. This does not necessarily equal productivity, and it is important to listen to your own body and take things at the pace that is right for each person. Spending time to meditate, exercise, rest, and just breathe may all seem like small actions, but together and over time, they can make great changes for one’s mental health.
Creating Personal Affirmations
Once in recovery, we may struggle with rebuilding or building self-confidence. Personal affirmations are a theory that can be woven into ACT. They are verbal messages we say to ourselves that affirm our value. Creating ones unique to who we are can help us acknowledge the importance of our existence but also help us remember the reasons we stay committed to changing for the better.
We are worthy. We are powerful. We are capable. The more we tell ourselves that we have all the tools to succeed, the more we will truly believe it. We all hold the power to positively change our future and continuously grow as individuals throughout our lives.
Along with the numerous exercises we can do on our own to help us succeed in life, there are always resources we can all refer to and get that extra push we may need from time to time. For example, it can be helpful to read about or listen to other people’s life experiences, especially when they are experiencing similar things or emotions as we are.
It can be helpful to know that so many people in the world are going through the same sort of situations as we are regarding substance use, recovery, and other everyday challenges. Talking with others helps us to understand that we are not alone in our experiences and encourages us to feel our emotions fully.
Everyone has a different story and reason for recovery, and recognizing the beauty in that is how we can all support and encourage one another throughout our lives and sobriety. Hard days will still come and go, and that is why the goal is to always look at things from the bigger picture. Life has so many opportunities to offer, and we all get to take part in them!
What is ACT? Acceptance and commitment therapy can help us sort through our emotions of distress and discomfort. It is evidence-based and proven to be extremely effective. It is okay to feel trapped; the key is to push past those feelings and figure out how to become unstuck. Every problem has a solution, and ACT helps us get from point A to point B with solutions. Becoming more mindful of your own body and those around you can help break those invisible chains we may feel weighing us down. Instead of being hard on ourselves, we should take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Take time for yourself, and know when your body needs to rest. Sometimes being productive means doing nothing at all. You’re valid in your feelings and worthy in your existence. ACT can help you achieve a better life. Call (949) 435-7449.