Imagine a bus with several passengers going down the road. Many of the passengers on this bus are loud and noisy. The bus driver knows his route: he’s going straight for three blocks, turn right, then after three kilometers he will turn left and reach his destination. Some passengers are yelling at him to go straight or to turn left, not right, or to stop the bus completely.
The story of the bus driver is an example of Acceptance Commitment Therapy. We accept our past; we cannot change it. We commit to the destination we want to reach. We choose how we act. We accept, we commit, we act.
The story of the bus is like our life. We learn that there are many passengers trying to get us off our route. These passengers may be negative thoughts, disturbing memories, or uncomfortable feelings. Some of those negative thoughts may come from the adversary, some may come from self-doubt. However, it is essential to remember that we drive our own bus. We choose how to manage those thoughts, memories, and feelings so we can stay focused on our destination.
Some examples of our values are in the 13th Article of Faith: “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men … If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” More values are in the covenants we have made at baptism, in the temple, and in the oath and covenant of the priesthood.
Like the bus driver, when we choose our route — our goals — based on our values, it is easier to ignore the passengers – the thoughts, feelings, and memories — that try to distract us. We listen to the voice that does matter… our Savior; we Hear Him. That helps us stay on the covenant path. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “our greatest and most overriding goals should fit into Heavenly Father’s eternal plan” (“Return and Receive,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 63). Our goals include missions, marriage and families, education and careers, and other worthwhile individual goals. Setting and achieving goals lowers anxiety, decreases depression, and eliminates worries. That gives us a feeling of peace and fulfillment.
Adjusting to Missionary Life gives suggestions and tools to overcome those distracting, noisy passengers. Some suggestions include:
- Talking back to negative thinking by rewriting them to be more hopeful, truthful, and encouraging, pages 20 and 21.
- Dealing with homesickness by unpacking and settling in, keeping busy, and being patient, pages 29-30.
- Identifying and using your strengths, asking inspired questions, improving communication, pgs. 35-36.
- Finding strengths in a weakness, staying organized, and trusting the Lord, pgs. 41-43.
In any new adventure, whether it is going on a mission, starting college, getting married, moving to a new city, starting a new job, etc. etc., we typically go through four stages:
- We have great anticipation like 1 Nephi 3:7 “I will go and do”,
- We find that things can be challenging, sometimes discouraging, in Alma 26:27 “Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold the Lord comforted us, and said, Go … and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.”
- We learn we can do this, we are blessed to meet and manage new environments and expectations as we learn and grow “precept upon precept” Isaiah 28:10.
- We develop emotional self-reliance by understanding what it means to take one step at a time, D&C 98:12.
May the Lord bless each of us as we drive our bus guided by our eternal values and our righteous goals in all that we do.
[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]