In the last post, I listed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’s first three principles (suggested behaviors): Defusion, Acceptance and Contact with present moment. The last 3 principles are:
- The Observing Self: This is the exact same idea as Mindfulness. Observe your mind. Don’t just feel the emotions trying to taking you on a ride. Instead, observe yourself experiencing those emotions. The idea again, is to create a distance from these feelings by looking at them curiously.
- Values: Understanding what are some of the most important characteristics about who you want to be as a person, both professionally and personally. This of course is always evolving so it is in your best interest to regularly do the exercise of evaluating your values. But what if values clash with negative emotions that you fear? Then decide if you are Willing to experience emotions like anxiety if they help you stand up for your values. It is very important to deal with this clash early on because one of the reasons people don’t follow up with their cherished values is due to fear and discomfort of negative emotions. This evaluation also clarifies your willingness to be dishonest with yourself. Maybe you are comfortable with contradicting yourself and living a valueless life as long as it helps you reach short term gratification.
- Committed Action: This is simply setting goals and then taking regular actions towards them while keeping in line with your values. These goals are formed after you have evaluated your values. If you really value becoming more social and creating a network of contacts, then making a goal such as “meeting a new person one day a week” could be one of the goals.
Writing briefly about these six principles tells me that most people would find them very obvious. I agree. They aren’t groundbreaking and almost all of them are heavily inspired by pre-existing ideas. But I doubt that they are actually used together in conjuction. Whenever I revisit this topic, it would be with examples. The example would be of a hypothetical person who will try to navigate all six principles. We will create their most feared emotions, what they value, what actions they committed themselves to etc.