Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: How to Improve Psychological Flexibility

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: How to Improve Psychological Flexibility

It is likely that no human being has mastered the art of being fully present in one single moment. Abandoning thoughts of yesterday, tomorrow, or even that load of laundry you still need to fold and honing in on the present is not always easy. Many individuals have at least one other thing on their mind while in a given moment. The difference is in how you process what’s happening in your mind to navigate that setting.

The contents of your present mind determine how you navigate different moments in time. When you are fully aware of your thoughts and emotions, you can move freely in the present. However, if your mind seems to dance to a song that never ends, you likely need to work that muscle. Usually, in this case, a completely different song is happening outside your mind. However, it isn’t a medley and has a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

There are many who experience overstimulation of their thoughts and emotions. Thankfully, this is not something that you must live with. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) offers a balance that encourages you to just breathe. It combines acceptance, mindfulness, and behavioral components to help guide you toward the pursuit of happiness.

What Is Psychological Flexibility?

Psychological flexibility is a characteristic that you can have or develop. It works as a mood-changing hallway between stress and negativity. Some people get stuck in that hallway. They get caught in a web of thoughts or emotions that prevent them from adjusting their mood to the moment at hand. 

Being psychologically flexible allows you to recognize and adapt to any situation you face or find yourself in. You are able to shift your mind and emotions, resulting in a shift in your behavior and social functionality. This way, every little discomfort or an inevitable cloudy day can’t ruin your overall outlook on life. You realize this because you have a healthy relationship with life satisfaction and understand life is full of ups and downs and that the focus can’t be solely on either.

Think of this the same way as code-switching. No setting requires the same exact persona or demeanor. Therefore, it is essential to know how to turn certain things on and off. Psychological flexibility kind of works the same way. You have to find ways to navigate your mind in a healthy way. This allows you to experience a moment for what it is and not what you may have already been feeling. 

ACT Can Alter One’s Responses Through Psychological Flexibility in Different Situations and Settings

Have you ever heard someone mention living in their head? Although there is a whole world happening outside of their mind, they cannot escape the one within it. Everyone has a world of their own thoughts, emotions, and understanding of life. However, when you cannot seem to escape the confines of your own mental galaxy, you are not getting the full version of the world that we all live in. 

Acceptance and commitment theory is a psychological intervention that helps you learn how to rewire the transaction that happens when you try to escape your mind but cannot. Different situations and settings not only require a different version of you. They also bring about different emotions and thoughts within your mind as well.

ACT can help you navigate these thoughts and feelings. So, instead of fighting with them, you can invest energy in committed behaviors. This form of therapy applies strategic methods causing you to commit to accepting and being mindful of what is. It reminds you to value the positive, even in the presence of the negative. Then you can use cognitive defusion to let thoughts pass rather than hang onto the thought. 

Practicing ACT Can Help One Cope With Mental Health Challenges

People naturally and inadvertently carry yesterday’s problems into today and today’s into tomorrow. This is why it is so important to address childhood traumas. When the practice of holding onto things starts in adolescence, it is easily carried into adulthood. This can bring on a psychological inflexibility in which you struggle to enjoy the journey of your life. Mental health is crucial and is the compass to an overall healthy lifestyle. Many struggle to access their full potential of contentment because they struggle with multiple mental health issues simultaneously. You do not have to.

ACT teaches ways to avoid and combat psychological inflexibility and ultimately reverse it. It breaks the barriers that challenges related to trauma, mental health, and co-occurring disorders can put on your happiness. If it seems that joy and satisfaction in life cannot be obtained for you, ignore those fears. Do not allow anything to hold you back from getting the help you need to live your best life.

Everyone experiences negative moments in their lives. In the same way, everyone experiences good moments in time as well. However, both good and bad things can exist in your life and still maintain a healthy balance. It is inevitable to avoid either, as it is just how life seems to work. That balance comes from pushing beyond emotion-based thoughts and seeking refuge in psychological flexibility. Acceptance and commitment therapy offers the tools to find that refuge and balance, as well as the ability to live in the moment. SoCal Mental Health offers this form of therapy and can help you reach your best you. For more information, call (888) 312-0219.

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