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Values based living (avoiding dead person’s goals)

Do you find yourself talking to yourself in ways that wish for something to be gone? This is especially common, and understandable, in relation to feelings we find uncomfortable. For example do you say to yourself ‘I don’t want to be depressed any more’ or ‘I don’t want to feel like this’?

In ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) terms a stark way of talking about this is ‘dead people’s goals’. These are the kinds of goals that state, say, ‘I don’t want to feel anxious’ or, ‘I don’t want to shout at my kids’. A dead person’s goal is anything that a corpse can do better than a live human being; for example, a corpse will never take drugs, or shout at someone.

Better to have ‘living person’s goals’ e.g. what would you do more of, how do you want to interact with your kids, if you weren’t anxious what would you be doing differently? These are values based goals, that can allow us to choose how we want to live better, how we live a more vital existence.

A good question to ask yourself might be what psychologists call the ‘magic wand question’; If I had a magic want and all your anxiety or panic subsided, what would your life look like; what would you be doing? This can begin to guide you to positive changes.

This short TED talk also mentions ‘dead people’s goals’….

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