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How Things Appear

Outwardly everything looks fine. The lovely house/perfect job/loving partner/happy children; yet on the inside all is not well. We are plagued by worry and attacks of acute anxiety (“What if it all goes wrong? What if I really am ill?”).

Or our internal world may be dominated by “if only…” thoughts or by moments of crushing self-doubt or self-loathing. And although we might feel bad inside nobody must ever know because what matters is how things appear.

Avoiding these internal experiences (feelings, thoughts, memories, racing heart, stomach churning) requires an awful lot of energy and becomes our sole focus. Unhelpful cycles of behaviour, fuelled by our internal experiences get established and we become well and truly stuck.

A recent Mental Health Awareness Week poster said “depression, anxiety and panic attacks are not a sign of weakness. They are signs of having tried to remain strong for too long”. An established evidence-based development in psychological therapy, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy),  recognises this and that the more we fight a problem, the worse it gets. Rather than focusing on our symptoms, it treats the core of the issue – the avoidance of our difficult thoughts, feelings, memories and physical sensations. When we avoid these and focus all our energy on getting rid of them, our world becomes smaller and we gradually lose sight of how we really want to live.

ACT is all about what we do in life. It is about accepting our pain and committing to behaviours that are in line with what we value in order to live a rich, full and meaningful life.

ACT involves teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you. It also helps you to identify what is truly important and meaningful to you so that you can use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.

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