ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy) is a lesser-known therapy but could be just what you need. If you feel like lingering on past events is clouding your thoughts and therefore emotions, perhaps a new approach where you accept the hardships of life, defuse negativity, and embrace personal goals and values could help.
ACT is known as a mindfulness-based therapy where drawing attention to the present moment is a method to create peace and clarity, this particular therapy differs from MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) and MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) as it’s not only designed for group sessions with a protocol but works for individuals and can be tailored to you.
ACT can teach you to come up with values in which you commit to living your life by, the principles that become your tool kit to combat the highs and lows. Instead of fighting the current, it offers you a raft to float down the river, observe the stream of your thoughts, and connect to your ‘observing self’.
Whilst some theories suggest that pain and suffering are a learned habit from our experiences, ACT takes the stance that human ‘normal’ processes are often destructive. It suggests the inevitability that our minds will create psychological suffering at some point in our lives, therefore the most productive preparation is to understand who we want to be and how we will choose to process life. The emphasis is on how you bounce back and move forward, demonstrating the values you wish to live by.
An example of how we may cause our own suffering without realising is ‘experience avoidance’, this is our instinct to identify a problem and choose whether to eliminate or avoid it. Whilst this may have been useful in caveman times when identifying dangerous animals or a threat, it would seem we apply this to our interior world and often avoid things that bring us uncertainty or anxiety. This may help us to feel okay in the short-term but continually avoiding can affect your quality of life, if we apply this fight or flight instinct on our thoughts, emotions, memories, and urges, we can lose control.
What you will take away from ACT is the ability to accept unwanted experiences that are out of your control and increased awareness of your personal values and goals in life. Instead of looking back, you will be present, instead of letting thoughts control your actions you will commit to your values, instead of avoiding, you will welcome life with open arms.