My clinical supervisor once shared this fantastic phrase with me during a session. Many years later it still retains the same power and relevance as it did that first day I heard it. I often use it in my therapy sessions with clients and also in my life outside of the therapy room. In general I wouldn’t describe myself as being an organically motivated person. That is to say it can take a fair bit of self-persuasion to get into a task that isn’t interesting, regardless of whether I am aware of it’s value. But this doesn’t mean that I am unmotivated. It simply means that I have to remind myself regularly (very regularly in fact) that just because I don’t feel like doing something doesn’t mean I’m not going to do it. Take flossing for example… We all know we need to floss but sometimes we find ourselves staring at the plastic floss packet hoping to discover that it has magically run out and we can go straight to brushing. Of course we know that if we don’t take care of our teeth that it could lead to gum disease and decay, but even with this knowledge we sometimes allow our feelings to take over and decide not to do it.
This is where YDHTFGTDG comes in. The saying reminds us that how we feel doesn’t always align with what we believe in or what we value. Our feelings can fluctuate dramatically from minute to minute, but our values develop over our lifespan and are usually consistent with how we want to represent ourselves to the outside world. When we make decisions based on our values we are putting aside our emotional state (which is largely uncontrollable anyway) and are focusing on the kind of person we want to be i.e…our best self
Identifying values is an important part of the work I do with clients and in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) knowing one’s values is core to being able to develop and create positive change. We can’t always feel good, but making value-based decisions gives us the best chance to do so.
So next time you find yourself staring at the tooth floss tell yourself
“YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL GOOD TO DO GOOD”