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Laying the Foundation to Psychological Well-Being

Psychological well-being refers to your overall state of mental health and emotional functioning. It encompasses various aspects of how you feel about yourself and your life, and how effectively you manage your emotions and cope with stress. Key components of psychological well-being include:

Positive Emotions: Experiencing happiness, joy, and satisfaction in life.

Engagement: Being deeply involved and interested in activities, often leading to a state of flow where time seems to fly.

Relationships: Having positive, meaningful relationships with others, which provide support and companionship.

Meaning: Feeling that life has purpose and meaning, and being part of something bigger than yourself.

Additionally, your psychological well-being can be influenced by several factors, including having a positive view of yourself and accepting your flaws and strengths, known as self-acceptance. Autonomy, or the ability to make independent decisions and self-regulate your behavior, is also crucial. 


Personal growth, which involves a sense of continuous development and realizing your potential, plays a significant role. Environmental mastery, the ability to manage and adapt to your environment effectively, is another important factor, as is overall contentment with your life circumstances and achievements, referred to as life satisfaction. 

Promoting your psychological well-being involves practices such as mindfulness, regular physical activity, healthy relationships, pursuing meaningful goals, and developing resilience to handle life's challenges.

Compassion is vital for psychological well-being. Practicing self-compassion makes you more resilient during life's challenges, helps you maintain healthy habits, and enhances your compassion for others. According to researcher Kristen Neff (2015), self-compassion involves three components:

1. Mindfulness: Be fully present with your experience without judgment.

2. Kindness: Treat yourself with care, gentleness, and warmth when you're struggling.

3. Common Humanity: Recognize that all humans are imperfect and experience suffering.

Real Self-Care

Building a meaningful life requires significant inner resources. Attending to your physical and emotional needs will support your efforts to become more psychologically flexible.

Intentional Use of Time

Being deliberate with your time helps you prioritize what matters most to you. By trying new things and engaging with your thoughts and emotions in different ways, you'll develop psychological flexibility. The groundwork you lay this week will benefit you as you tackle the important tasks ahead.

Interestingly, we are often the harshest on ourselves when we are most vulnerable, struggling, or stepping out of our comfort zones. In these moments, our inner critic can take over, driving perfectionism, setting unrealistically high standards, and passing judgment. There are many reasons we might be self-critical. We may have internalized the critical voices of caregivers, adopted individualistic ideals such as "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," or absorbed messages based on stereotypes, racism, or others' standards. Self-compassion offers an opportunity to choose a more supportive and encouraging voice, especially when you need it the most.

Meet Your Inner Critic

Reflect on your inner critic. How has it manifested in your life? What did it say to you when you were younger, and what does it say now? Consider something challenging you are currently facing. How does your inner critic appear during these struggles? What does it tell you?

Close your eyes and envision your inner critic as a person standing before you. Ask it these questions and observe the responses:

- Why are you here?

- How are you trying to help me?

- What do you need from me?

Become curious about your inner critic. What might satisfy its true needs?

Reflect on Today's Values, Goals, and Self-Compassion

Imagine if, instead of being harsh with yourself when you're hurting, you had an inner coach who was kind, courageous, and forgiving. When your inner critic appears, you have a choice: you can get stuck in its message, or you can disregard it and focus on more helpful thoughts. Choosing the latter doesn't mean your critic will disappear, but it allows you to be more flexible and compassionate in how you treat yourself and respond to your thoughts. In moments of struggle, consider what you would want your compassionate inner coach to say to you.

Compassionate Touch

Touch can be a powerful, nonverbal way to foster self-compassion. We use touch to soothe babies, express love to our partners, and let our friends know they are not alone. You can activate self-compassion by practicing caring touch with yourself now:

1. Place both of your hands over your heart and feel it beating.

2. Move one hand to your belly while keeping the other hand on your heart. Take long, slow breaths.

3. Place your hands on your cheeks and hold your face as you would hold that of someone you love.

Psychological well-being encompasses the overall state of mental health and emotional resilience, involving positive emotions, engagement in meaningful activities, supportive relationships, and a sense of purpose. Factors like self-acceptance, autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, and life satisfaction significantly influence well-being, supported by practices such as mindfulness, physical activity, healthy relationships, goal pursuit, and resilience-building. Addressing our inner critic, often harsh during vulnerability, involves choosing a compassionate inner dialogue and understanding its origins to promote self-compassion effectively. Integrating these practices and insights supports a balanced approach to psychological well-being, nurturing resilience and fostering a positive outlook on life's challenges.


The Role of Psychotherapy in Enhancing Psychological Well-Being

Psychotherapy supports psychological well-being in several key ways:

Addressing Mental Health Challenges: By targeting issues like anxiety, depression, and trauma, psychotherapy directly improves mental health, laying the foundation for greater well-being.

Enhancing Coping Skills: Through therapy, individuals develop effective strategies to manage stress, emotions, and life’s challenges, fostering resilience and adaptive functioning crucial for psychological well-being.

Promoting Self-Understanding and Growth: Psychotherapy encourages self-reflection, insight, and personal development, helping individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves, build self-acceptance, and pursue meaningful goals, all of which contribute to a more fulfilling life and enhanced well-being.

Psychotherapy plays a vital role in promoting and sustaining psychological well-being through targeted treatment of mental health issues, enhancement of coping skills, and fostering self-understanding and growth. By addressing challenges, building resilience, and promoting personal development, psychotherapy supports individuals in achieving a balanced and fulfilling life. These therapeutic benefits underscore its importance as a valuable tool in enhancing overall mental health and well-being.



Resource: ACT Journal

Pages: 24-30

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