Accepting or fighting?

If you have something you are anxious about it can be difficult to know what to do. You feel like you should fight the feelings and thoughts. You might think if you challenge your anxieties they will get weaker and go away. For some this works, and for some, this is not always the case.

One method which can help to weaken anxieties is ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ (ACT). Instead of using your energy to fight anxious thoughts and feelings you can:

  • Take a step back. Try not to connect with your negative thoughts instead become the observer of your thoughts and feelings. One great way to do this is to write down the thought that is upsetting you – eg. - “I am an idiot”. Then write it again but this time, “I am having the thought that I am an idiot”. Suddenly there is some distance between you and the thought.
  • Accept what is out of your control. If you allow the anxious thoughts to come and go rather than buying into them, they don’t have as much impact on you. It is a bit like being in quicksand. If you fight and struggle in quicksand you sink, but if you lie back as if you are floating, you have more chance of surviving.
  • Be in the present moment. Being more aware of what is happening around you and having a ‘curious’ attitude helps to ground and calm you – you are interested not fearful.  For more tips on how to be more in the present moment see Tool 6.

This is a very brief introduction to ACT, if you would like more information visit:

Created on 28/08/2013 | Updated on 10/12/2015
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