Is there really a value in "thinking positively"?
[Lt. Col. Jeffrey Yarvis] When somebody uses a form of biofeedback like a Post-it note,
it could be as simple as a little sticky dot that has no writing on it
to maybe a stone that says soothing on it or a word—
you can have words that you use.
When I do hypnosis, I actually will write down positive words that they say.
When they say I want to feel something,
I will say, I'm going to write that down.
And they can actually carry index cards with those words in their cargo pocket.
Say they're sitting in a boring meeting, they can be flipping through those cards.
You can tell your spouse to say those words to you
or your lover to share those words with you.
And a lot of these things are about ratios.
Often times we focus on our misery and not the positive things going on.
So that's part of the mindfulness—
part of like in acceptance and commitment therapy,
which is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy
where being present for yourself
and increasing the ratios of these affirmations versus the other times.
So for the one time you got angry, you tell yourself you're doing well a hundred times.
And I learned this from doing marriage counseling.
People will focus on, "He never says he loves me."
And she might say—he might say, "I say it hundred times a day."
So why is it you only hear the one bad thing he says
and not the hundred I love you's.
So you go out of your way and say, "Well then kick it up to 200
because some of that's going to get in there."
And part of these biofeedback mechanisms
is increasing the opportunity to see these things in your environment.
So you're having more opportunities.
You don't have to rely on your therapist to say it to you
or your spouse to say it to you,
you have this stone that you can rub on to sooth yourself
and also see those words.
You can see them when you write.
You can go back through these journals that you might keep
and see that you were doing well on a particular day.
And then we're going to dismiss some of the aversive stuff.
Maybe we'll tear that page out of the journal,
or we won't focus on those negative responses as much,
which leads to that downward spiral into anxiety or depression.
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Lt. Col. Jeffrey Yarvis, PhD is the first integrated service chief of the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. He is an assistant professor of Family Medicine and director of Social Work at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
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