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Stop Struggling and Start Accepting

There are so many different forms of therapy available out there. It can be confusing to try and sort them all out. Each therapy intersects with other forms of therapy but each one also has some features that are unique and make it stand out on its own. Recently, I read up on ACT Therapy, an acronym which stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. A very simple description is as follows: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) encourages people to embrace their thoughts and feelings rather than fighting or feeling guilty for them. It certainly sounds a lot like mindfulness which has its roots in Buddhist thought.

In my attempt to get a grasp of this therapy I read Russ Harris's book. The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living. I will share some quotes from his book to summarize his own take on ACT Therapy.

  • Focus on what you can control, not on things you have no control over. We can control our actions, responses, attitudes. We have only some control over our thoughts and feelings and no control over others or the future.

  • Stop judging yourself or others. Judging our thoughts and feelings sets us up for emotional struggle.

  • Don't try to change, avoid, or get rid of negative thoughts or feelings; rather learn to let go of struggling with them and accept them. Uncomfortable thoughts and feelings are not bad or dangerous, they just are. The harder we try to get rid of bad feelings, the more bad feelings we create.

  • Accept yourself and acknowledge that we will feel the full range of human emotions. If we try to feel good all the time, we are doomed to failure. The reality is that life involves pain.

  • Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are not facts. Simply observe and notice them for what they are; relatively small and harmless.

  • Self acceptance means being ok with who you are. It means allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.

  • The more your life is focused on having pleasant feelings, the more you'll struggle against the uncomfortable ones.

  • Change involves risk: the more you try to avoid discomfort, the harder it will be to make important changes.

What I resonate with in the above quotes is that they are so practical and down to earth. I think every one of us can identify with most, if not all of these statements. For further reading on this fairly recent form of therapy, I will suggest a few additional books that you might find inspiring and helpful:

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life -Steven C. Hayes, PhD

The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt - Russ Harris

The Courage Habit: How to Accept Your Fears, Release the Past and Live Your Courageous Life - Kate Swoboda, Life Coach

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