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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Life isn’t easy. It is full of emotional and physical pain, disappointments, rejections, failures, and losses. And as if these painful experiences were not enough, our minds tend to constantly ruminate about the past, worry about the future, beat us up for our mistakes, warn us about all kinds of real and imaginary dangers, and discourage us from taking healthy risks.

Our minds throw all kinds of unwanted, intrusive thoughts at us and at times, these thoughts become very sticky. They pull us away from the present moment and into our heads.

According to Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), our difficult thoughts and feelings are not inherently problematic. But when we let our mind’s constant warnings and admonishments hook us, we often neglect doing what’s important and instead, go for quick fixes to get rid of discomfort and pain. This may help in the short-term but leads to moving away from what truly matters to us in the long run.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.

 Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.

 Psychological Flexibility can be summarized as:

1. Being present in the moment.

2. Opening up to whichever thoughts and feelings come up without trying to fight them.

3. Doing what matters to you and taking steps toward being the kind of person you would like to be.

When OCD has a grip on us, we tend to react in a psychologically rigid way, which means that we have a very narrow range of responses to your obsessions – that is, we respond with either compulsions or avoidance. 

Responding flexibly, on the other hand, involves doing whatever we choose to do while making room for the obsession and without engaging with it. When we respond to our thoughts and feelings flexibly, we notice them, allow them to be there, and continue taking steps towards whatever matters to us without resorting to compulsions.