The New Year is often seen as an opportunity to renew resolutions and kick start new goals. For many people who have experienced a particularly difficult 2015, the New Year offers a fresh opportunity to take stock of what can be done to make 2016 a more positive and fulfilling year. Making the necessary changes for a better new year is not always easily done. For some, the New Year may serve to remind them just how unhappy or dissatisfied they have become with the various aspects of their lives. Such negative thoughts or feelings can make it difficult to see a solution and in some cases can contribute to excessive stress or mental health difficulties.
In order to avoid this and promote positive change this New Year, it can useful to consider some of the core processes or skills of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is form of psychotherapy that that is centred on the development of psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility is described as the ability to fully connect with the present moment by noticing your thoughts and emotions and responding in a way that is in line with your chosen values. These values are long term desired qualities of behaviour that guide the type of person that we want to become. The core processes or skills of ACT that can be particularly relevant at this time of year are therefore developing awareness of values and acting in a way that is guided by such values (value guided actions).
Value guided actions are committed behaviours that are guided by your values. These can be difficult or uncomfortable at times but are ultimately about doing what matters. One example of a value guided action could be to enrol in and complete an online course in an area of interest. For instance if an individual is experiencing negative thoughts and feelings regarding their current working position, and has identified that their current working position is not in line with their values, a value guided behaviour would be to participate in this online course of interest when they notice their negative thoughts or feelings emerging. In this way, the individual is responding to their negative thoughts and feelings in a way that benefits their personal values. This is a simple value guided behaviour that if carried out effectively can lead to positive outcomes for that individual.
Udemy.com is an online education marketplace that offers more than 30000 online courses that cover a wide range of topics including personal development, photography, business, psychology and language studies. These can be completed from the comfort of your own home and can contribute to building a version of yourself more attuned to your personal values. So this new year, consider your own values. Are there any value guided behaviours that you could uptake to make 2016 a happy and fruitful New Year?
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Ms. Niamh Allen, M.A. B.Sc.