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DBT Blog

Using Reflections to Set Intentions

It's the new year and you might be thinking about how to move forward. In DBT, we talk a lot about the concept of setting intentions because people are more likely to follow through on behavior change if they are thinking through what their specific intention is and the value behind it. However, what I want to address today is looking at EMOTIONS that you felt in year 2017 that could assist you in figuring out your intentions for the new year.

It's tempting to want to just move forward and say what you are going to do. However, since emotions spur us on, I believe that people are more likely to follow through on intentions when they are fueled by both negative and positive emotions. So this requires for you to REFLECT on the past year and think about some deep questions. I have written these questions to assist you in this process:

1.) When you think about what you set out to accomplish at the beginning of 2017, what do you feel content about?

2.) What areas of your life do you feel like you stalled out on and got stuck in even though you started off with good intentions at the beginning of the year?

3.) What were some losses that you experienced this year? What do these losses tell about what is really important to you? What did your reaction to these losses tell you about yourself?

4.) Who were the people in your life that you chose to invest in this past year? Do you feel that you are closer and have deeper relationships with these people today?

5.) What are some relationships that you felt disappointment in? What does this tell you about how you want to cope with these emotions or perhaps these relationships moving forward?

6.) What were the top 2-3 highlights for yourself this year? What does this tell you about what you value?

7.) What were 2-3 lowlights for yourself this year? What meaning can you derive from this suffering that you experienced?

8.) Where did you waste time this past year? What is the root of this behavior? (i.e. "I wasted time vegging in front of the TV too much--this tells me I lack stress management skills and rely too much on TV to avoid.")

I encourage you to process through these questions and then take the next step in setting intentions. Your intentions will have much more passion, momentum, and energy behind when you are fueled by your wisdom from the past, emotions that motivate you, and a desire to build the life that you want.

For former and current DBT group members, these are the skills applied:

1.) Function of Emotion--you are using emotions to give you information about yourself and your values and also using emotions to motivate you.

2) Meaning--you are taking suffering from your life and exploring the value or deeper purpose behind your pain.

3.) Commitment--you are considering what "is in it for you" to follow through on your intentions as a way to build motivation and consistency in behavior change.

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