When I see patients in therapy, one of the questions that I use the most is, “How will that get you there?” My orientation in therapy is future-focused. We set goals and use therapy as a means of building skills to achieve them. When patients are stuck or resistant or do things that are regressed or counterproductive, I see that as my signal to remind them of the goals that they set, and I ask, how that current behavior will get them there? The question serves as a reminder that is often all that they need to get themselves back on track.
It’s a technique that doesn’t require years of training to be able to use – either to work toward your own goals or to help others. Getting into a “funk” or prematurely quitting on a project or being inappropriately self-critical are situations that call for asking that question. Sometimes that question may lead to rethinking and replacement of a voluntary goal – because the process of getting there just isn’t enough fun and it leaves you feeling drained or miserable. More often, however you will find that the goal makes sense but the negative behavior doesn’t, and BEHAVIOR CAN BE CHANGED.
The question of, “How will that get you there?” truly embodies The Mental Health Gym concept. Although it is a technique that is used in psychotherapy, you don’t need to be in therapy to use it. Emotionally healthy people should strive to have a variety of questions, concepts, principles, and techniques that can be called upon to deal with challenges as they arise as well as helping to maintain general mental fitness. Sharing these types of ideas is one of the main function of this website.
How about the rest of you? Do you have some techniques, phrases, or principles that you’ve found helpful in maintaining a positive outlook and building mental fitness? If you do, I hope you will respond to this blog and share suggestions that can be useful in building and maintaining emotional fitness.