By Jennifer Cook, Registered Psychologist
Life is full of highs and lows and with this comes a range of emotions. Unfortunately, some of these feelings such as anger or fear are labelled ‘bad’, which leads some people to try to “get rid of” or avoid these emotions. This is no wonder given the common belief that we should be able to “control” our feelings. However, experiencing a range of feelings is what makes us human. Furthermore, feelings are neither good nor bad; rather it may be useful to view them as a guide. For example, we feel angry at injustice; fear alerts us to potential danger; and sadness allows us to process grief. It is when we do not embrace our emotions and use all kinds of strategies to get rid of or avoid them, that life can be a struggle. The notion that trying to control our feelings is counter-productive is emphasised in Acceptance and CommitmentTherapy (ACT). Afterall, the only things we can truly control are our own actions and what we pay attention to (both in the external world and inside our minds). Moreover, the more we try to control or fight things (including other people and our own feelings), the more we struggle.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy provides a number of strategieswith the aim of helping you to create a rich, full and meaningful life, including:
- accepting uncomfortable feelings so they have less influence over you,
- letting go of the unimportant commentary that plays in your mind rather than getting caught up in it, and
- acting in accordance withwhat matters to you (i.e. your values).
If this appeals to you and you would like to find out if your ability to sail through life’s ups and downs can be improved with ACT, arrange counselling session with Jennifer. Medicare Rebates are available with a GP-issued Mental Health Care Plan and Jennifer is at Yin Health on Thursdays.