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ACT: Committed Action

ACT: Committed Action

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by admin

It’s usually way easier to think about doing things and making all these big changes in our lives than it is to actually make those changes. Why? Because humans are creatures of habit! We love consistency and predictability, and sometimes, most of our harmful thoughts can contribute to that consistency!

Specifically, the way we handle them tends to be the same way we’ve handled them in the past, regardless of if it works or not. If we’ve pushed down bad feelings in the past and it’s worked for us, we’ll continue to do so. That’s just the way humans are. It’s easier for things to stay the same than to put in the effort into changing the way we respond to things, and so even though we may have all these thoughts and ideas of how to make positive change in our lives, it’s really difficult to actually commit to doing them.

Regardless, committed action is a crucial part of acceptance and commitment therapy. It essentially means living by our values and acting in such a way that we move closer and closer towards our goals. It includes both physical and psychological actions and doing what it takes to live the way we want to live. It involves pushing through, even if what we’re doing brings up uncomfortable and foreign thoughts and feelings.

It doesn’t always have to be major life changes! The best part about ACT is that it’s flexible and totally customizable, so living out one’s values can look completely different from one person to the next. Committed action can be something as simple as learning a new skill that enriches your life.

Learning how to be more assertive at work is equally as valid as a father taking more time off work to be with his kids, because they are both actions that will lead two different people closer to their goals. That’s the bottom line.

In order to get to this point, we need to live our lives with openness and curiosity, because it’s only with this attitude that we’ll be motivated enough to take action to make some real change. We have to be curious about how our lives will change for the better when we eventually do take action, and we have to be open to experiencing all the new thoughts and feelings that will come about as a result, even if they’re negative. We must accept them without assigning a value judgment, and you might be surprised by how your perspective on life will shift because of it.

Something like this is a lifelong journey. Because humans are flexible and our circumstances around us are constantly changing, our values will likely follow suit and ebb and flow throughout our lives, meaning the action that we take will differ from time to time too. In these cases, we never want to self-criticize the way we’re handling the situation, we can just take a step back and determine whether what we’re doing is towards or away from the life we want to live. Is it helping you be the sort of the person you want to be and act towards building the life you want? If yes, great! If not, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with troubleshooting and adjusting the behaviour as needed.

It’s easy to become discouraged on the journey to personal improvement. When we don’t see the tangible impacts of what we’re doing, it’s so easy to give up. That “stuck” feeling is not pleasant, and if we feel like what we’re doing isn’t working, our instinct is either to give up or try again. I encourage you to try again. Focus on what’s working. How did you make that happen? What difficult thoughts and feelings do you need to make room for? What does this tell you about what works in your life? These are the kinds of questions that should be asked throughout your commitment to take action.

As the finale to our series on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I hope that you’ll commit to making small changes in your life. Many small and seemingly insignificant shifts in attitude and in your behaviour will contribute to large-scale changes that can only be seen in hindsight. The goal of ACT is to get to that point!


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