What can ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) tell us about the situation we’re currently in?
The situation we’re currently in will be okay for some of us. We may have gone through an adjustment period and now we’re feeling better able to take on the coming weeks and beyond, whatever they through to us.
The rest of may still be finding this situation incredibly difficult and this could be deemed as the worst thing possible. We may trying to fight what is going and to make it worse we may know someone who has died as a result of contracting the virus, adding to the physical and emotional strain that we’re currently under.
ACT, I think, would take a broad approach to this situation and also remind us to remember the small moments of joy that are going on around us.
What ACT won’t be doing will be asking you to get rid of these thoughts and force them out. That would be cause for a lot of effort and stress focussing on the very thing that you’re trying to get rid of.
I’m reminded of the analogy of waiting for a delayed train. What is the best thing to do in this situation? You could pace up and down the platform, muttering under your breath, gritting your teeth, and getting really frustrated with life and the fact the train is going to be late.
You could take a seat. Put down whatever you’re carrying. Appreciate the world around, take part in some informal mindfulness exercises, talk to someone on the phone or read a few pages of your book.
Which one sounds the best to you?
And more importantly, why do I bring this up now?
This all has something to do with dealing with things we cannot change. If a train is late, there is nothing we can that will make it turn up any quicker. Just as in today’s world, there is very little we can do to rid the world of COVID-19 and the implications it is having on our daily lives.
So what is a way of dealing with it? Regularly getting angry and frustrated that we’re all stuck in our houses? Break the regulations to attend gatherings that may see us get fined? Then blame the police for fining you even though you knew you shouldn’t be outside? With an ever-growing list of reasons to get angry and frustrated.
Or, do we surrender to the circumstances and accept the circumstances for what they are in these times? Will we still feel lost sometimes? And angry? And frustrated? Probably. But will we feel the need to hold on to these thoughts for longer than necessary?
By accepting the circumstances, which is easier said than done, we are able to apply logic and reason into our thought processes. We can slow down an overthinking mind and focus on what is in our control.
We might still be working from home, so do the best for your clients. You might be with your family, so be the best for your family. You might have wanted to start reading a book, you can read it. Learn the instrument that’s been lying around your house. Or none of these, just calm relaxation and being curious as to what you regularly think about may be all you need.
Accepting where we are, regardless of how hard it is, is extremely important in making sure you’re able to get through this.
Bear in mind the Serenity Request:
grant me the strength
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.