There is a belief out there that humans are naturally happy and that if you are not, then there is something wrong with you.
You and I both know that life can throw a number of curve balls at us, namely divorce, sexual difficulties, midlife crises, work stress, domestic violence, illness, bullying, prejudice in the workplace as well as the negative impact the media and advertising has on our self esteems and mindset.
It is no wonder so many people are walking around feeling alone, battling their negative thoughts and suffering from depression and anxiety. Western society assumes that mental suffering is abnormal, it is seen as a weakness or illness. The product of a mind that is somewhat faulty or defective. We may critisise ourselves for being weak or stupid and health professionals are quick to slap on labels such as, “ you are depressed’, and these labels merely confirm how defective we are.
Thankfully, ACT Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is based on a dramatically different assumption.
ACT proposes that the normal thinking processes of a healthy human mind, will naturally lead to psychological suffering.
You are NOT defective, your mind is just doing its job, the thing it is evolved to do. Fortunately ACT teaches powerful techniques and principles which will show you how to adapt to this in such a way that your life will be powerfully transformed.
ACT is based upon 6 core principles which work synergistically to help you achieve 2 main goals:
- to effectively help you handle painful thoughts and feelings
- to create a rich, full and meaningful life
It literally helps transform your inner psychological world as we learn to harness the power of our minds so that they work for us and not against us.
To relate to your thoughts in a new way, so that they have much less impact and influence over you. Imagine experiencing your previously painful thoughts in a totally new light, and actually having a giggle at them.As you learn to diffuse painful and unpleasant thoughts, they lose their ability to frighten, disturb or depress you. Even your self limiting beliefs can be completely over hauled and you can start with a fresh, clean slate- how exciting is that?
When you make room for unpleasant feelings, sensations and urges, instead of trying to sweep them under the carpet, suppress them or push them away, you will find that they no longer have power over you and you begin to ‘move on’ far more easily.
This is really just another word for “mindfulness” Living in the present, focusing on and engaging fully in whatever you are doing. When we are not dwelling on the past or stressing out about the future, we are deeply connected to the present, which means we have access to feeling more content and fulfilled. Isn’t that really what you’re wanting more of in your life?
4. The observing self
I love this principle! It is as if you are looking at the inner workings of your brain from the outside looking in. It is like eaves dropping on a conversation and because you are not a part of it, you are able to see how ridiculous some of the thinking is! It is like an insight into your own mind. The observing self is a powerful aspect of human consciousness, which has been largely ignored by western psychology until now. It is simple and easy to do and by mastering it, you will be able to further transform your relationship with unwanted thoughts and feelings.
If you want to live a life that’s more meaningful and fulfilling then it makes sense to connect with your values. Your values are reflections of what is most important to you, what sort of person you want to be, what is significant and meaningful to you. If you want your life to have more direction, applying this principle to your life will rock your world into the stratosphere.
6. Committed action
When we take action, and not just any action, effective action, guided and motivated by our values, a richer and more meaningful life unfolds. Even more powerful is committed action (action that you take again and again and again) until the desired outcome is achieved.