Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps you accept the difficulties that come with life. ACT has been around for a long time, but seems to be gaining media attention lately. Categorically speaking, ACT is a form of mindfulness based therapy,theorizing that greater well-being can be attained by overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. Essentially, ACT looks at your character traits and behaviors to assist you in reducing avoidant coping styles. ACT also addresses your commitment to making changes, and what to do about it when you can’t stick to your goals.
ACT focuses on 3 areas:
Accept your reactions and be present
Choose a valued direction
Whether it be a situation you cannot control, a personality trait that is hard to change or an emotion that overwhelms, accepting it can allow you to move forward. Obsessing, worrying and playing things over and over keep you stuck. In this sense, asking why can leave you helpless. ACT invites you to accept the reality and work with what you have.
Some acceptance strategies include:
1. Letting feelings or thoughts happen without the impulse to act on them.
2. Observe your weaknesses but take note of your strengths.
3. Give yourself permission to not be good at everything.
4. Acknowledge the difficulty in your life without escaping from it or avoiding it.
5. Realize that you can be in control of how you react, think and feel.
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It doesn’t matter who we are, at sometime or other in our life we all experience negative self belief. It isn’t a mental health problem, but something ingrained in us throughout our life. For example, you’re all dressed up for a job interview and then you think to yourself “why on earth would anyone want to employ me? I don’t even look the part “you try to go on a diet and do you think to yourself, “what’s the point? It never works” now I’ve just been reading the most fantastic book called the ‘Happiness Trap’ by Russ Harris, and in it he talks about a really good way of detaching ourselves from these negative belief patterns. Let’s give it a try! Think about a negative thing you always tell yourself. For example, I’ll never lose weight I’ve tried it before. Now take a few minutes and put these words in front of your negative thoughts ….. (I’m thinking) now, your negative belief becomes-I’m thinking I’ll never lose weight, I’ve tried it before. Say it a few times to yourself, and now try putting these words before your negative phrase …. (I recognise). So your negative belief now becomes, I recognise I’m thinking I will never lose weight I’ve tried it before . Now do you see how different your negative belief feels? You’ve broken the link between self-doubt and taking a step back to see things from a clearer perspective. Another really good way Russ Harris talks about breaking the negative self- belief cycle, is to sing your negative thought to the tune of happy birthday go on try it! Can you see how your negativity has moved even further away? This is a brilliant tip for getting rid of self-doubt.
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Over the past decade or so, Mindfulness has become a familiar buzzword for anything relating to health and wellbeing. But what exactly is mindfulness? And why should it often be treated with caution?
The word Mindfulness means ‘using the mind fully in all aspects of our daily lives.’ Bringing our awareness to the present moment, in order to see things clearly, realistically and not magnify our problems to be bigger than they really are. When we overthink our problems, of course our anxieties and stress levels are also heightened. One technique for helping us achieve a mindful way of living, is the practice of Mindful Meditation. This helps us prepare the mind to adapt itself to this new way of living & perception. Preparation is the most important part of Mindfulness practice. Don’t forget, for years we’ve been fantastic teachers, training our minds to think a million thoughts at once, so we can’t instantly expect it to relax just because we decided on a different way of doing things. Preparing the mind takes time, effort.
A ‘Mindful’ way of living however, sounds beautiful if you’re sitting somewhere in the Himalayas, totally at one with nature without any obstacles – but what about in Western society where stress related illness is on the increase? Where many are suffering the impact of war or other past traumatic events? For us, the present moment feels more like an impending threat than a therapeutic input. Some would argue, these are the perfect situations for using Mindfulness practice. As someone fortunate enough to have spent time studying the mind & meditation practices in India, I feel qualified to say “when the present moment leaves us fearful, in a place we really don’t want to be, Mindfulness practice should be avoided. It can be more damaging than therapeutic.” There are however other suitable types of meditation practice, e.g ‘Transcendental Meditation’ which supports equilibrium by removing us from the moment rather than bringing us into it.
For others, Mindfulness practice can be very therapeutic, improving focus, concentration, sleep problems, stabilising mood and a whole range of physical and mental health problems.
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Major changes in our economic climate, have seen Buddhism fast growing in the West. The workplace sees people running in circles, trying to meet unobtainable targets and deadlines but this takes its toll. Stress related illness is on the rise, so many Westerners are turning to Buddhism because it offers a different way of living peacefully with calmness of mind. This FREE online course will help you develop a deeper understanding of this fascinating way of life and religion. It will also help you understand why so many Westerners are choosing this path and its many fascinating practices.
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