(ORDO NEWS) — As American scientists have shown, the belief that a person works with his strengths significantly affects the success of mood regulation.
In psychology, there are several approaches to how you can try to improve a bad mood and cope with unpleasant emotions. These include cognitive techniques and mindfulness meditation techniques. However, only some of them have received scientific confirmation of their effectiveness.
Scientists from Ohio University conducted an experiment to make sure which of these methods are the most effective. The results of the study are published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology .
The participants were 616 students who were introduced to two main approaches – cognitive techniques and mindfulness meditation – for mood regulation. Using a cognitive approach involved identifying and reassessing negative thoughts and beliefs.
Mindfulness meditation was defined as becoming aware of and accepting your thoughts and feelings without trying to change them. All participants were presented with a hypothetical situation in which they could apply their skills: they were asked to imagine that a friend did not invite them to a holiday they would like to attend.
After evaluating how the subjects were coping with this “problem,” the scientists told each (randomly selected) that one of their two mood regulation skills was well developed and the other was weak.
In the main part of the task, the volunteers had to imagine that a loved one was dying, and additionally listened to Prokofiev’s cantata “Alexander Nevsky”, which aggravated the sad atmosphere. As expected, this led to a significant deterioration in the mood of all participants in the experiment.
The speed of improvement in mood, as it turned out, did not depend on which method was used – a cognitive technique or mindfulness meditation. What mattered, however, was whether the volunteers were told that in their particular case it was a well-developed skill. This helped them think that they were working to their strengths and not their weaknesses.
Why are the findings of the new study important? Over the years, psychotherapists have sought to correct what has been troubling their clients. In recent years, the approach of focusing on the patient’s strengths and using them to help cope with problems has become more common. But for researchers it remained a mystery how focusing on strengths helps.
Presumably, if there is such initial encouragement early on—that people are really good at a particular strategy—you can instill in them more confidence and persistence in using that skill and end up with better results.
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