What is Psychological Flexibility?
Psychological flexibility is the foundation of ACT Therapy (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and is like doing yoga for your mind. It’s about being able to bend and stretch with life’s twists and turns, even when things get a little uncomfortable. Picture yourself in that super uncomfortable yoga position (anything involving flexibility for me) and holding it there for “just a few more seconds”. You know, when your whole body is shaking and screaming at you to just STOP. But, instead you push forward and each time you get back to that pose, you can hold it a little bit longer and over time you get more and more flexible.
Psychological flexibility means to stay present, open, and engaged – no matter what life throws at you. It’s about acknowledging your thoughts and emotions, but not letting them dictate your every move. Instead, you get to choose your actions based on your values and goals rather than just trying to NOT be uncomfortable.
Embracing Change and Adaptation
Change can be unpredictable, but here’s the beautiful thing – by nurturing psychological flexibility, change loses that negative power. It’s that inner sense, emotion, and knowledge that no matter what comes your way, you will find a way to navigate it. Instead of getting entangled in negative thoughts or feeling overwhelmed by a flood of emotions, you can respond with gentle self-compassion, practical problem-solving skills, and perhaps even a touch of humor.
Life is filled with challenges and setbacks. Adversity can manifest in ways such as difficulties in relationships, obstacles in careers, or health issues. When faced with adversity, psychological flexibility empowers us to respond by fostering resilience and well-being. Instead of getting ensnared in negative thoughts or being overwhelmed by emotions, we can choose to respond with kindness towards ourselves and seeking the support and care we need.
Building Psychological Flexibility
Developing psychological flexibility is a journey that requires practice and self-reflection. Fortunately, there are some strategies that can help cultivate this important skill. By gently and compassionately exploring these strategies, we can nurture our ability to be more psychologically flexible and adapt to life’s challenges with grace and resilience.
Practicing mindfulness is a beautiful way to cultivate kindness and compassion towards ourselves. It gently guides us to stay present and embrace our thoughts and emotions with non-judgmental awareness. Just imagine sitting quietly, observing the thoughts and emotions passing by like clouds in the sky, without getting entangled in their stories. This gentle practice empowers us to respond with grace and flexibility when faced with challenging situations.
For example, when someone says something hurtful, instead of immediately reacting, we can take a moment to mindfully observe our emotions, offer ourselves kindness, and choose a response that aligns with our values and well-being.
Identifying and clarifying our values allows us to create a guiding compass for our actions. When we encounter challenging choices or decisions, taking a moment to reflect on our values can help us make decisions that truly resonate with our authentic selves and bring us closer to the life outcomes we desire.
For example, let’s imagine you’re at a crossroads in your career and you have to decide between two job opportunities. By reflecting on your values, such as personal growth and work-life balance, you can choose the opportunity that aligns with your authentic self and supports your overall well-being. Embracing this compassionate practice allows us to make choices that honor our values and lead to a more fulfilling life.
Cognitive defusion techniques can help us gently detach from unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. By understanding that our thoughts are not always accurate representations of reality, we can create space and choose a response that aligns with our values and goals.
For instance, imagine a situation where you receive criticism from a colleague. Instead of immediately believing the negative thoughts that arise, you can compassionately observe them, remind yourself that they are just thoughts, and choose to respond with kindness and understanding towards both yourself and the colleague, fostering a more harmonious and constructive interaction.
Let’s Take Action
Now is the time to take action. Embrace these strategies and incorporate them into your daily life. Practice mindfulness, reflect on your values, and gently detach from unhelpful comments and thoughts. Take action and you can cultivate psychological flexibility and navigate life’s twists and turns.
Take the next step towards cultivating psychological flexibility and enhancing your well-being. Book an appointment with Dr. Guess today and embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth.