Professor Steven C. Hayes, the co-developer of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), defines psychological flexibility as the ability to make contact with experience in the present moment fully and without defense. Do you see a problem or an opportunity for a new solution? In other words, it’s a personality trait that describes how resilient a person is to change and their capacity to find creative solutions.
ACT is very similar to CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), both are behavioral therapies, but they differ in the view they take around thoughts. ACT teaches how to accept and work with our thoughts instead of editing or changing them as CBT would. Both methods are highly effective, and even though CBT is the bread-and-butter of coaching, I personally prefer using ACT methods in my coaching practice. Here are some examples of ACT in practice:
Thought: “OK, you are right. Now what?”
Focus: Take “right” as a given and focus on action
Thought: “Who is in charge here?!”
Focus: Treat thoughts as children running wild in your mind; use funny language in your response
ACT nurtures a deeper understanding, acceptance and encourages us to build resiliency through our emotions while using science-based behavioral therapy techniques to become a more flexible person.
Here are 3 things that helped me become more psychologically flexible:
1- Delay Gratification — when was the last time you challenged yourself to give up an activity or food you enjoy eating for a month or so? Our minds are wired to seek instant gratification — the fastest and easiest solution that doesn’t require much thinking, and that’s comforting. Fortunately, our consciousness allows us to problem-solve for future solutions and also wonder about our past! When we delay our instant gratification, we build our discipline muscles and learn to reward ourselves AFTER we have accomplished a goal or task, and NOT before then. Examples of limiting our instant gratification can be simple things such as not watching our favorite TV show until we have completed our daily to-do list, cutting back on sweets to once a week, not drinking coffee or alcohol for a month.
2- Developing Values-Based Habits — how are you living your values in your daily life? Being clear on what makes you YOU is critical to living a fulfilling life. A life worth living is a life in which we are living true to our values! What are the key areas of your life of importance? Family, friends, career, and hobbies? Awesome, that’s half the equation! The other half is about you directly. What are your values, and how are you experiencing each in the main areas of your life? What habits do you need to consider creating to improve some key areas in your life? When we intentionally focus on developing habits that align with our values, our relationships are fruitful. Our time is used efficiently. We learn how to live fulfilling lives by identifying our sources of untapped happiness.
3- Building Competency — are your thoughts and inner dictator running your life? I’ve gone through periods of retreating in my own life, avoiding conflict with my inner dictator, while failing to trust myself. And what got accomplished by standing by the wayside and engaging in negative self-talk? Absolutely nothing. When we deepen our awareness of ourselves, find an accountable thought-partner (i.e., therapist, life coach, etc.…) to help us build confidence by learning to ask ourselves better questions that will weaken our inner dictator while building our competency to thrive in life.
Everything begins and ends with ourselves. Do you want that ideal partner and life you have always dreamt about? Awesome! How good of a thought-companion are you to yourself? If the answer isn’t anything other than great, amazing, or pretty good, there is some work here to be done. When are you going to better the relationship with yourSelf?
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Spirit Panda Coaching has been helping young adults who struggle with finding their way after college to integrate into work and life with confidence and direction while leveraging the best of their sensitivity temperaments. As an HSP Business Coach, I am trained in guiding clients to a state of self-empowerment and success. All coaching sessions are remote, and you can schedule a 15min complimentary consultation here.
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