4 Realistic Psychological Strategies Anyone Can Use to Improve Their Life
By Dr Becky Spelman
Much is often made of psychological home remedies. And while in some instances they’re unable to replace the more refined process of sitting down with a qualified therapist, for some, they can be exactly the boost they need. Not all people need to go to therapy, but almost everyone can benefit from taking a therapeutic approach to life. Many of these psychological strategies may seem ho-hum. You may have heard them before. But here, we’re going to add a little bit more spice to the recipe and offer some alternative perspectives that will you grasp that aha moment, so you integrate these practices into your life.
Learn How to Champion Yourself
Quite simply, you need to be your own greatest advocate in life if you not only want to achieve the goals you lay out for yourself, but also enjoy a healthy measure of self-esteem. You can’t out-source self-belief; it’s something that has to come from within. If you’re relying on others to boost your morale, then you’re firmly rooted in a co-dependent relationship with whoever you lean on for your daily fix of validation. It may be hard, and even seem like an insurmountable task at first. But many new endeavours often seem like they’re destined to fail. It’s simply the hurdle of starting something new.
This strategy relies on is your ability to engage in ‘frameshifting,’ an NLP technique whereby you challenge yourself to alter your perspective on what you perceive to be a challenging issue or personal failing. So, for example, if your life is a picture and you’re focused and/or zoomed in so intensely on your problem, it blocks out everything else that might be a positive around you. Frameshifting asks you to widen your perspective so you can take in this more expansive view. This enables you to gain context, and thus see things in a different light.
2. Practice Mindfulness (And Become the Auditor of You Thoughts)
Mindfulness is a phrase that’s reached a point of saturation within many articles that discusses the term. It’s becomes something of a meaningless trope that’s trotted out to give credence to vague ideas about personal development. And it’s a shame. Because mindfulness – when executed properly – was and stillis a great tool to have at your disposal. It can help you identify errant thoughts and dysfunctional patterns of thinking that become the sponsoring thought behind your actions. It will require your effort, but with it comes a sense of personal accountability that will transfer into other areas of your life.
To practice mindfulness in a practical day-to-day setting, you don’t need to meditate if you don’t want to – the core concept is centred on policing your thoughts. Around 90% of mental processes are given over to trivialities and confrontational styles of thinking. We’re constantly at war with ourselves. In mindfulness, the goal is to catch yourself in the act of veering off into these imagined scenarios of conflict and stop them in their tracks. Again, it will require work. But the return on investment of committing to tidying up your mind far outweighs the time spent.
3. Learn How to Truly Forgive Yourself (And Let Go of the Past)
When we’ve done wrong, we all seek forgiveness from those we’ve wronged, but so often even when we’ve been absolved of all wrong-doing, we’re still unable to forgive ourselves. There are generally two types of pain that will deal with in life – that which is happening to us right now and that which is continuing to affect us from the past. The pain that we’re feeling from our past, in a certain sense, is voluntary. It is a permissive form of pain, as it’s something we continue to allow to be a part of our narrative. It is, by all accounts, a choice.
But, like all choices, it can ‘un-chosen,’ or decided against. And forgiveness is the medium by which we achieve this outcome. To truly forgive yourself, means letting go of all internal judgments about what you have or haven’t done. It involves you coming to a place clarity on what your previous experience means to you. And you do this by taking the lessons from it. When you shift into this mode of thinking, all of you past misdemeanours cease to be something you’re trying to rid yourself of and instead become a resource. They become experience that you can draw on to help you make better decisions in the future.
4. Start Chronicling Your Journey
Journaling is another often-suggested but largely unexplained form of personal development that is circulated in the psychological and self-help oriented media. But the advice usually extends to ‘journal your thoughts’ with little emphasis on ‘the why’ of the action. And without good cause, you’re far less likely to see something through in the long. You journal because it provides you with an opportunity to express yourself in a different format, which will bring out more information that thinking alone would ever allow you to experience. But more so than this, it’s about identifying patterns in your thought-processes that you can then replace with more positive actions.
The ‘how’ of journaling is a different matter entirely. Everyone’s brain works in a slightly different manner. It might benefit you to a lot a certain amount of time in the morning, or in the evening. But if that commitment seems like too much of chore, you could opt to keep a live journal throughout the day, adding important markers and thoughts as they come to you. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but simply that you be consistent in your efforts. The key is in creating enough information so you can begin to stop patterns emerging. And to that end, you could choose themes that you want to write on and explore for an extended period. The key is consistency and honesty.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
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