Tips We've Learned in Therapy

Zencare team members are huge fans of therapy (no surprise!) and we gain so much from our weekly sessions. We wanted to share what we've learned with our community – here's some of what we're learning on the couch.

1. Self-awareness is different from scrutiny

You might notice, for example, that a new routine you're implementing isn't running as smoothly as you'd planned. But criticizing yourself could actually undermine your motivation, and deter progress further.

Rather than judging yourself for it, try to mindfully take stock of what's working vs. what's not, and adjust accordingly. Keep in mind that we don’t always get things right the first time, especially when we’re implementing a major change!

2. Learn the difference between reacting and responding

Strive not to take things personally, because most offenses in life are not personal. It's far more helpful in the long run to be able to step back, process an unpleasant interaction, and “respond” rather than “react.”

If someone is acting outside a normal realm of reaction, or acting in way that you didn’t expect or that is different from what you had hoped, know that:

3. Use a mental cue to stop your intrusive thoughts

The next time an intrusive thought won't back down, use this tip from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to stop it in its tracks: Close your eyes and picture a big, red STOP sign.

4. During conflict, try the Self-Respect Effectiveness (FAST) model

If you find yourself in a tricky interpersonal situation, try following this acronym! It comes from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and stands for:

FAIR: Be fair to both yourself and others. Maintain neutral thoughts, rather than getting swept away in your emotions.

APOLOGIES: Offer apologies as warranted; while you shouldn't hold off on saying sorry, remember that there's no need to apologize for something you had no control over or that isn't your fault.  

STICK TO YOUR VALUES: Be sure to be honest about, and stand up for, your values.

TRUTHFUL: Stay honest – don't exaggerate or minimize to get your point across.

5. Reframe your least favorite chore

Life comes with a whole host of less-than-fun responsibilities. Pick one aspect of your routine that feels particularly cringe-y, and get curious about why.

For example: Making a loan payment. What does this bring up for you? Maybe an unsettling memory, or doubts about an upcoming review at work? While it's important to validate that undercurrent of anxiety, try another way to think about it – such as the fact that you're one month closer to being all paid off!

Reframing may not make you look forward to chores, but it can help reduce the dread associated with regular thorns in your routine.

6. Notice if an upset feels familiar

When a trigger arises, try to assess whether your reaction to it feels familiar. For example, your inner monologue might tell you something like "I've felt like this before," or "I have this reaction often."

If you can intuit an answer, it could clue you into some important information on how to self-soothe. So the next time a reaction feels familiar, ask yourself: When did I last feel this way, and what do I wish I'd known then? After all, you are the expert on your own experience – and you can empower yourself by using that wisdom!

We love learning new things about ourselves and the world at large in therapy, and look forward to sharing more tips with our community as we go along!