Adjustment disorder is the crippling impact of stressful life events that can leave you feeling stuck, depressed, anxious, lost, confused or just plain desperate.
Such feelings come from the kind of behavioral paralysis embodied by such woes as “I don’t know what to do with my life”, “I used to have dreams, but now…” and, the ever popular, “I don’t know where to start”.
Well, it’s time to act. This week; today; NOW. It’s time to apply an intervention I call “think less do more”.
The Logic Behind Think-Less-Do-More: Why it Works
Adopting “think less do more” into one’s life is not as easy as its sounds, but the rewards it brings can make your efforts worth it. When we apply “think less do more” to coping with stress, we become effective and resilient because we take control over stressful life events, rather than feeling victimized by it. This is particularly important in the treatment of adjustment disorder.
By being action-oriented we more effectively gather information about our surroundings, and thereby change and improve our actions to better serve our goals.
First thing you should know is that you are capable of adopting the “think less do more” paradigm. You have abilities as well as desire, so listen to these parts of yourself. Seriously, stop talking to yourself, roll up your sleeves and do something… almost anything. You can start by setting simple, achievable goals. Aim for a weekly goal, keep your head down and do the thing you set out to do. Do it for the next couple of days, then for the next couple of weeks, then for the next couple of months. Keep the momentum going. And only after you’ve pressed yourself into action in this way, pull your head up, look around and reflect. But be careful: Too much reflection could dilute your progress: put you right back into your head from whence you came.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be conscious about what you do, just don’t let your consciousness define you at this point. Momentum is critical, particularly in the early phase of “think less do more”. The more you do in the initial phase (as in taking up a new pastime), the faster you will learn what you like and don’t like. And then you’ll be able to reflect more constructively. Mistakes are good (see below).
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
If you know something works for you, continue to take advantage of it. If you see benefits in going to the gym, practicing guitar, or writing in your journal – then, don’t languish in thinking about making those more prevalent in your life… make those things become a part of you. Treat them as though they were second nature, like a reflex – something that you don’t even have to think about anymore, because it is so common to you, like chewing food or walking down the street. By doing something over and over again, you build those habits into your brain, and they become automatic.
Learn to love the things you do: act “as if”
A good way to build a habit and learn to love doing is by acting “as if” you do. Make it a source of pleasure by acting as if it already is. Just like many enjoy the unconditioned pleasure from sex or food, we can learn to elicit pleasure from doing other activities. Just imagine how good it will feel being productive and organized, not missing a step in your busy work schedule, or receiving an A on your final exam. When you act “as if”, you allow yourself to be there already, thereby learning how to identify more easily the pleasure that comes from the action: you can learn to love doing it.
Don’t Worry About Mistakes
Sometimes doing more results in more mistakes: this is to be expected (given the general increase in one’s activity) and should not deter you from your action-appointed mission. While it’s good to be aware of your mistakes, there are some things that aren’t worth paying attention to. Sometimes little things might threaten to ruin your day, but don’t let an insignificant something screw up the benefit of a whole day’s “doing”. Remember, “think less do more” means staying out of your head as a way of forgetting about these things we can’t change, instead of wasting energy being upset or frustrated. Sometimes it can be difficult not to sweat the small things, but a bit of “who cares” can often be enough to diffuse the bomb of inhibition before it is blown out of proportion.
The Bottom Line
Adopting “think less do more” as a prescription for the symptoms of adjustment disorder is not something that is achieved overnight. It is a constant work-in-progress, and it requires a conscious effort to build.
What is mentioned above is merely a rough guideline on the theme and on the general attitude you want to take, but truthfully this more a process of self-discovery than an act of change. Everyone varies on how they take on “think less do more”, and what level best suits their goals. A good starting point is to identify an action you want to take, and then make a committed effort to practice it. Remember, the joy comes from the doing.
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