Written by Nour El Ali, Psychologist. The Valens Clinic
Imagine that you are in a game of tug of war with your negative thoughts and emotions on one side and your values and goals on the other side.
Your negative thoughts and emotions are constantly pulling you in different directions, trying to get you to give up or move away from your values and goals. If you can relate to this, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with these same feelings and challenges, but there is a type of therapy that can help – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
ACT provides you will with the skills to focus on your values and goals and take action towards them. That way you can choose to pull back and move forward in spite of the opposing force. This metaphor emphasizes the idea of commitment in ACT, as it encourages you to commit to your values and goals even when it’s difficult.
It also highlights the importance of taking action towards your values and goals, rather than getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions. By acknowledging the tug of war between your thoughts and emotions and your values and goals, you can choose to take action and prioritize what matters most to you.
ACT is a type of therapy that helps people accept their difficult thoughts and feelings, while also taking meaningful steps towards their goals. It focuses on two important concepts: mindfulness and values-based living.
Mindfulness involves learning to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment, which can help reduce the impact of negative emotions on your behavior and well-being. Values-based living involves identifying what is most important to you in life and creating a plan to live in alignment with those values. This can increase motivation and overall life satisfaction.
For example, if you have ever tried pushing away a thought or ignoring it. Do you notice that it gets louder and may lead to negative reactions such as yelling at a loved one or laying in bed and not engaging in things we love. Through ACT we learn skills that allow us to detach from the negative thoughts and feelings to accept them as they are rather than allowing them to control our actions.
ACT also promotes acceptance and self-compassion. Instead of trying to eliminate negative thoughts and emotions, ACT encourages individuals to accept them as a normal part of being human.
By doing so, individuals can reduce the impact these experiences have on their behavior and well-being, and foster better emotional regulation skills.
In addition, self-compassion is a skill which is overlooked by many. Through ACT we prioritize slowing down and taking some time to care for oneself.
One of the reasons why ACT is so effective is its focus on acceptance and mindfulness. Unlike traditional therapy, which can sometimes encourage individuals to try to change or eliminate negative thoughts and emotions, ACT emphasizes the acceptance of these experiences as a normal part of being human.
Another reason why ACT is effective is due to its emphasis on value-based living by helping individuals recognize what is most important to them.
This approach can give them a feeling of direction and purpose, which might be lacking with other forms of treatment. Research has shown that focusing on meaning and intent increases motivation and makes life more enjoyable for individuals who suffer from depression or similar mental health issues.
We live in a fast-paced society and hold ourselves to high standards of self-efficiency as a result of this people tend to overlook their values and commit to actions which may be against their own value system. This may lead to feeling unfulfilled and overwhelmed. Through ACT we prioritize re-evaluating the individual’s values and committed-action.
In conclusion, if you struggle with difficult thoughts and emotions, ACT might be a helpful therapy to consider. By emphasizing mindfulness, values-based living, and acceptance of difficult emotions.
ACT can help individuals lessen symptoms associated with various mental health issues and enhance emotional regulation skills for better life satisfaction.