This is part 3 of Gifts to Yourself:
Acceptance and Commitment workshop by Steven Hayes Ph. D.
How would you like to have more psychological flexibility?
The Steven Hayes’ workshop focused on six areas a person can use to create a meaningful and fulfilling life. Experiencing a sense of meaningfulness and fulfillment often leads to a feeling of being satisfied. The bi-product of feeling satisfied is a life of vitality. Sound desirable?
In the last two posts I have covered two aspects of psychological flexibility: values and mindfulness. Mindfulness, based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, is referred to as cognitive defusion. Basically, it is a way to step back and use your observing self to see your minds process. Cognitive defusion means being in the observer’s seat which is a judgment free place of experiencing without making evaluations. Evaluations such as: good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, which our mind is proficient at doing.
When I first heard of cognitive defusion I struggled with the concept. However, I tried being the observer. Eventually, I realized I could best understand it by doing it.
Values are what help you and me to find our way like a compass and a map. However, value is not a destination but a direction on how to live life. Like going west, you can keep going west. Hence, if you have a value of being a loving parent, you do not arrive at a point of being a loving parent once and for all. You continue to work on and work at being a loving parent.
This post is about acceptance. Do you have experiences you would just as soon not have? I do. I would like to avoid crying. I feel uncomfortable when I cry, especially in public. Feelings of being embarrassed and sometimes weak and out of control come into my mind. I have a lot of chatter in my head. My mind has an elaborate story that has been with me since childhood.
The urge to fight off my tears and not cry is called experiential avoidance. I try to fight off other intese and often uncomfortable experiences This adds to my suffering over what I am already experiencing as painful. Acceptance is the opposite. It is allowing me to experience myself. It is a gift to me to open myself up to me. The biggest part of the gift, as I accept uncomfortable feelings, is that I more completely experience my pleasant feelings such as joy. Deep inside I am filled with vivid and spicy, light and dark feelings of all the possibilities of the human experience. In conclusion, I am free within myself.
I invite you to share your story of accepting your experience be it joyful or painful. How have you learned to accept your own experience?