How to Make Things Happen This Year

by Andrea Blundell
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Another year, another clean slate to apparently do things differently. Find that hard to believe? Convinced your life will never change? Different types of psychotherapy have different things to say about how to make things happen.

CBT and negative thinking loops

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sees a tendency to always feel down and trapped in difficult situations as the result of a loop we get stuck in. This loop starts with our thinking.

We have a negative thought, which leads to a negative emotion and a negative, uncomfortable feeling in our bodies. So we then choose a negative action. Which leads to another negative thought. And on the cycle goes.

CBT aims to help you disrupt this pattern by recognising and changing your thinking. You learn to change your negative thoughts into balanced thoughts. Then you feel balanced and make better choices, and bit by bit life changes.

You might also work with your therapist on changing any repeat negative behaviour you keep enacting, and on changing the cycle this way.

Schema therapy and childhood patterns

Schema therapy believes that in our childhood we acclimatise to certain patterns of being, that then become the themes of our life.

These are called ‘schemas’ and can be things like an abandonment schema. This would mean that without realising it we expect everyone to abandon us, so our own anxiety sees us constantly push others away. Or a self-sacrificing schema, where you always ignore your own needs to prioritise others.

Schema therapy helps you recognise what patterns you are stuck in and constantly repeating, then helps you to break free and move forward.

Existential therapy and finding your purpose

Existential therapy believes that if we are stuck in life we simply have not found what makes us feel purposeful, or never learned how to see meaning in things.

We sometimes are so caught up in being what we think we should be, or what others around us, like our family, believe is the way to lead life, that we have never taken the time to really look at our own desires, values, and needs. Or we aren't taking responsibility for the life we are creating.

Once we identify our own values and what truly makes us feel excited to be alive, we are happy to greet each day and start making different choices.

Mindfulness-based therapies and accepting what is

Mindfulness-based therapies like MBCT believe that sometimes we don’t move forward as we are unable to accept what we can’t change, so we can actually focus on what we can change.

Mindfulness helps us to sink deeply into the present moment. We can start to recognise opportunities in front of us, instead of being so distracted by regrets and worries about the past and future we miss them. We gain clarity on what we need to just accept, and what we can now move towards.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy and clearing out the past

The psychodynamic approach is one of the oldest of modern talk therapies. It believes that if we are struggling in the present, it is because of unresolved past experiences.

By adapting ourselves to survive such past experiences we took on unhelpful beliefs or ways of relating that are still holding us back.

By accessing repressed memories, emotions, and even dreams, and making sense of our past? We liberate ourselves to make change in the present.

EMDR and getting out of the freeze response

Do you feel like you are floating through your life? Always numb and passive, unable to take the actions that you know would mean your life would change?

Or perhaps you always run away from things? Sabotage relationships, avoid applying for promotions, live a small life?

If we lived through childhood trauma we can have a sort of long-term PTSD, called complex PTSD, where we are constantly in the stress response of fight, flight, or freeze.

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a special technique used by therapists to train your brain out of its stress response so you actually have the clarity and energy to start changing your life.

EMDR is a great choice as a first therapy if you lived through trauma, as it helps you stabilise so other talk therapies have a chance to work better for you.

Time to stop being stuck and start moving forward? Find your perfect talk therapist now with our easy booking tool and start your year right.

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