Blog posts on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT):
TL;DR: What if this glorious product of the human brain, the ability to communicate via symbols, is a double edged sword? What if language is a wonderful servant and a horrible master? Is there anything that language is not good for? Are there places where language gets in the way of fully engaging with the present moment, choosing effective action, and living the life we want?
TL;DR: The assumption of health normality suggests that normal = happy = healthy and thus, distressing internal experiences like emotions or thought we don’t want, or physical sensations that are uncomfortable, are only problems to be solved. But what is normal? If I check my own experience, normal seems to be a flowing, ever-changing river of experiences. My mentor says, “We treat emotions like math problems…but what if they are actually sunsets?”
TL;DR summary: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy teaches the skills of openness, presence, and engagement to create the life you want. I fell in love with ACT via Robyn Walser and an experience of common humanity. [illustrative Taoist story] Next week, human suffering.
In an age of unparalleled exposure to information from around the world, our sweet overwhelmed brains dig into efficiency and resource conservation. In our homes and with our loved ones, we tune out and shut down. In the social realm, sometimes it feels like we take turns giving our updates instead of connecting, communing, and *inter* - acting with each other.
And bottom line, if my best friend thought her business was failing, if she thought she was useless and unskilled, I would just sit with her. I would listen. I would say, “This is hard…How can I help?....I love you, I’m cheering for you….Everyone in the whole world feels this way. You’re not alone, I feel this way, Ghandi felt this way when he was a miserable and ineffective lawyer! We’re in good company, love.” I *would not* problem solve out of the pain. I wouldn’t skip over it.
I think the grandest and most destructive illusion is that everyone else is ok and we’re the only one that’s in pain. We’re all in pain; through genes and history and environment and dumb luck, we’re all doing the best we can and sometimes that feels so far from great.
3 deaths in quick succession. First came the shock, then the acute pain. Long silences and numb birthdays. Children’s books about death. Sleepless nights repeating their simple lines….”Where are you, now that you are gone?’ This picture is my ‘before’.