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  • Writer's pictureKristin Helgerson Frigelj

What is ACT?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

And umm, is it a cult?


Acceptance and commitment therapy/training (ACT) changed my life.


Yes, I know that sounds extreme.


And I 100% know that sometimes when I hear colleagues talk about ACT it sounds like they’re trying to get you to drink the kool-aid.


(Maybe you’ve even thought that about me?!)


No offense if you have, I kind of am.


But not in a “do this because it’s gonna work magic overnight and bring you to some higher place in the afterlife” kinda way. None of that here.


I will shout about how life-improving it can be.


But not because of magic.


Because of behavior science.


And because of the effort you’ll put into it to practice the tools.


Increasing your psychological flexibility sounds a bit wonky but what it basically means is that you’ll be better at attending to your mind, accepting that you can’t change certain things, and committing to actions moving you towards your values.


Bonus bonus - your confidence will get a major boost!


The Six Tenants of ACT


Practicing acceptance and commitment therapy within your own life means using tools from six different areas. Each can be focused on one at a time but truly putting them all into play together will bring you the best results.

Acceptance

The idea of acceptance is that you are opening up to all of life's experiences. You are acknowledging that you are human and therefore will experience all the emotions; the good, bad, and everything in between. Acceptance does not mean that you're giving up on areas that tend to be a struggle for you. It means that you are accepting that they will happen.


Committed Action

By making a commitment to yourself you are doing what it takes to seek a rich and meaningful life. Committing does not mean that your plan cannot change. It means that if adjusts as necessary. It means that you will try and try again.


Values

My favorite place to start. Your values are what are important to you in life. By knowing what matters to you as a person in all areas of your life you will be able to identify how you want to life. Values clarification exercises (like my free one here) will help you align goals with inspiration and fulfillment.


Contacting the Present Moment

Commonly known as mindfulness, this refers to being in the moment. What's happening right now in your life and are you focusing on it or are other thoughts pulling you away? Distractions are everywhere in today's world and practicing being here now will connect you with your choices more and lead to more effectively responses to challenging situations.


Defusion

Cognitive defusion simply means for you to watch your thinking. this involves distancing yourself from thoughts and viewing them as mental events, rather than absolute truths. It will help you reduce the impact of negative thinking patterns.


Self and Context

This sixth and sometimes most difficult tenant is about observing yourself from a broader perspective. When you recognize that you are not defined solely by your thoughts and emotions it brings about a feeling of increased contentment and confidence.


Practicing ACT


Acceptance and commitment therapy/training is a practice. Placing the tools that fall under each of the six areas listed above into your daily routine leads to an overall increased sense of wellbeing. Learning the strategies based in behavioral science will help you accept your thoughts and feelings rather than trying to avoid or eliminate them. Your committed action will be aligned with your values, even in the presence of challenging emotions or thoughts. ACT combines mindfulness techniques with strategies to clarify personal values and set meaningful goals. If that makes it a cult then, hey, I guess I'm sold.




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