I’ve been in a training course for the past few days learning about ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy). I am in love with this model because it is everything I’ve been doing for years that I had no name for. Of course, I’m not a therapist but the method is also used by coaches. We just have to know our limits and refer clients on when they need more than we can offer.
Russ Harris, author of ‘The Happiness Trap’ ran the training. He is an immediately likeable, down to earth guy who happily shared his story with the one hundred participants who attended.
The room was full of therapists and coaches and he asked us if any of us ever run the ‘I’m not good enough story’. The room filled with laughter. ‘No seriously,’ he said. ‘Put your hand up if you do.’
Every person there raised their hand. And then he laughed – ‘See, all the therapists in the world are troubled too!’. How very true. Just because we work to help people resolve their issues doesn’t mean we’re not human.
The beauty of this model is that it’s all about accepting just that. There will be suffering and difficulty in our lives and rather than trying to escape that through changing our thoughts or running away from our feelings, we need to accept the experiences that go with that suffering. This doesn’t mean negating your experience, it means noticing it in a mindful way and making room for it without judgement.
As well as acceptance, the theory invites us to clarify our values and align our actions with those values in order to create rich, full and meaningful lives.
Which means that sometimes we need to accept the things we can’t change, make the most of what we have and as much as possible, be at peace with the challenges life sends our way.
So much easier said than done.
‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.’