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What is “ACT”?

What is “ACT”?

Initially created by Professor Steven C. Hayes and later developed by colleagues Kelly Wilson and Kirk Strosahl, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has become widely popular for treating different mental health issues like addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many more.

The reason why it has become so popular is because, in a time where humans tend to behave as we think we should, ACT encourages us to behave like the kind of person that we want to be. It asks us to look at our fundamental morals and values and to commit to following them, both consciously and mindfully.

Even though life may intrinsically come with suffering, the aim of ACT is not only to learn how to effectively handle that pain, but also to maximize our own ability and potential to live in a rich and meaningful way. It asks us to fight the natural instinct of controlling what is happening to us, and to try embracing the pain – and the joy – of everyday life. It does so by asking us to define what truly matters to us and to use that understanding to guide us to do things that will make our lives that much better while fully being present and savouring those more fulfilling aspects of our lives.

Those who have undergone ACT have said that “a list of odd things become possible”. They find that they are more able to turn towards pain instead of running away, and they find that the things that they care so deeply about were always there all along, they just had to seek them through mindfully experiencing discomfort, joy, and authenticity.

If you’re wondering how to do this, the key is to practice mindfulness! It may seem like a cliché, but if you truly let yourself experience the present moment, you’ll find that slowly and surely your mind will begin to calm down as well, making your values clearer and easier to pursue.

Slow your breathing and make a conscious decision to commit to actions and behaviours that help you embrace any challenges that may come your way, rather than running from and therefore giving them more power.

Be present in the current moment – make note of the ground beneath your feet, the ambient sounds that our minds tend to cancel out, and objects in our environment that we may have previously ignored. Through a commitment to this kind of honest and mindful reflection, we’ll eventually be able to identify and honour our deepest values.

There are six key aspects of ACT – Contact with the present moment, Defusion, Acceptance, Self-as-context, Values, and Committed Action. We will elaborate on each of them and how they can contribute to a happier and more meaningful life.

If you’re interested in learning more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, follow along! Let’s discover how to find meaning and joy in the ordinary.

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