Updated: Apr 10, 2021
Life is a struggle
A rich and full life is going to present all sorts of experiences and challenges: some experiences may be pleasant and wanted, whilst others may be painful and unwanted. Life experiences will elicit different emotions ranging from joy, happiness, satisfaction to sadness, frustration, anger, hopelessness.
In truth, there is very little we can do to control many of the events that affect our lives, but here they are anyway, tossing us around like a boat in a stormy sea, and leading us to behave in unhelpful ways.
What can we do when we are feeling caught up and overwhelmed by these difficult and painful thoughts and feelings?
Many of us seek ways to hide from or push away the pain, relying on substances to numb us from our feelings such as alcohol, drugs, food, or distractions such as shopping, scrolling social media, sleeping, anything really to avoid the problem.
Many of the strategies we have relied on to cope with the pain in our lives, although seemingly helpful in providing short-term relief, may come at a huge cost in the long term; affecting our relationship with ourselves and others, our health and wellbeing, and doing little to address the original painful problem.
What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT is a relative newcomer on the block in terms of therapeutic approaches, and yet at its core, ACT has evolved from ancient traditions including a focus on mindfulness as well as values and committed action. ⠀⠀⠀
Rather than struggling with, or trying to avoid or distract from our difficulties, ACT helps us to choose values-based actions in the presence of difficult thoughts, feelings and challenging situations, so that we can manage our lives more effectively.⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ With a focus on developing skills that increase psychological flexibility, ACT is more than a therapeutic approach to help with life’s challenges; it is a way of being in the world that has relevance every day. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy teaches us strategies to manage overwhelming thoughts and feelings more effectively.
What do you mean by Acceptance?
At its core, ACT is about opening up and making room for the things that are outside of your control. However, this does not mean that we like or want these difficult experiences, or that we hand over our power. It simply means that we manage our difficulties more effectively so that they have less impact on our lives.
Commitment to values-guided actions
Your values are like a moral compass; a set of principles that guide and inform the way you behave in the world, the way you treat yourself and others, and a reflection of the things that matter most in your life.
ACT places your values at the core of all you do. No matter what else is going on in the world, you always have choice and control about what matters and can take committed action towards living a life that is in alignment with your values.
Being aware of what’s important in your life enables you to take committed actions towards the things that matter in spite of the adverse situations in your life.
Read more about bringing values into your life, and download our values checklist here.
Mindfulness means paying attention, in a deliberate way, to the present moment, and being fully focussed and engaged in the here and now. It's possible to practice being mindful anywhere and at any time.
Mindfulness aims to enhance our conscious awareness of our present moment experience, allowing our minds to focus fully on ONE thing. When practiced regularly, living more mindfully may help us to improve concentration, tolerance and more effectively manage our emotions.
"Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience" Jon Kabat-Zin
As a counsellor, I draw from a range of techniques and modalities to help my clients deal with the difficult thoughts and feelings that they may be experiencing. And while every client comes in with a different set of life circumstances which requires an individualised and very personal approach, underpinning that approach is always ACT. ⠀⠀
Are you curious about ACT and how it could help you manage difficult thoughts and feelings differently?
Speak with Linda: have a chat or make an appointment.
Linda offers In-Person Individual Adult Counselling in Port Macquarie and Tele-Counselling via Zoom.