Monthly: July 2017

CBT Therapy Techniques Part 5 – Goal Setting

Goal Setting

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of different clients, and one of the most profound changes to their mindset which can point them on the road to recovery is to help them focus their goals on what they want.

Most clients I meet for the first time are primarily focused on what they don’t want.

Perhaps this has also been your experience? For example if you struggle with anxiety, are you more often than not telling yourself not to be anxious? Are you entering certain situations hoping that you won’t feel anxious? At the beginning of the day are you hoping the anxiety won’t be too bad today?

The more attention we give a personal challenge and fight against it, the stronger and more worthy an opponent we make it.

When setting goals it’s normal practice to focus your mind on developing yourself from your present circumstances, to a different set of more beneficial circumstances.

For example many of us seek to increase our skills by becoming better at something, not less worse. Let’s say you are fond of playing tennis, and you attend classes once a week. Do you attend these classes primarily to become someone who is a better player, or less worse?

Would you attend spelling classes to become better at spelling, or less illiterate?

The answers are obvious, yet when we struggle with a stressful concern like anxiety, we often mess up our targeting.

If you’re stressed with life, you feel cornered and just want some relief from anxiety then it’s not unreasonable to want to experience less of the misery.

To progress beyond this vicious feedback loop, what you will need to do is counter your old goals of aiming for less anxiety with additional ones which address what you would like to experience instead. Focusing on solutions will naturally allow your mind to come up with ways to achieve it.

Obviously I’m not familiar with your circumstances and your life journey so far, so these recommendations are deliberately vague.

Using anxiety again as an example. In general terms though the opposite of anxiety is comfort and relaxation.

So rather than have a goal of experiencing less anxiety, you can shift towards the goal of experiencing more comfort and relaxation.

To begin with I would suggest you approach this exercise with a sense of curiosity.  This is an exercise in progression, not perfection. You do not need to banish the your old goals or old way of thinking straight away.

Think along the lines of blending these new goals into your life and allow them to become more dominant, whilst allowing the old way of thinking to naturally dissolve.