Which do you think is better or more workable? To challenge your thought or to accept it?
Traditionally, the psychologists of Cognitive Behavioural approaches emphasize that our thinking style is what causes us to respond emotionally to events, so it’s our thinking style that determines our feelings, our ability to overcome and steer through when adversity strikes (Reivich, Shatte, 2002).
However, the Mindfulness and Acceptance-based approaches suggest that it’s not so much of the content of our thoughts and attitudes that matters, it’s our relationship with them, i.e. how we respond to them.
So the former approach traditionally teaches people to gather evidence and dispute the logic of unhelpful thoughts, whereas the latter approach says we can simply acknowledge the thoughts and distance ourselves from them, without getting into an internal struggle.
Have you ever tried to control or avoid unpleasant experiences and later coming to realize that it’s affecting you even more and causing more discomfort? (e.g. some noise while you’re trying to sleep; your worries; some palpitation and fears)
Psychological suffering (feeling sad, anxious, guilty etc) is very common and so realistically cannot be avoided. Our attempts to avoid or control painful internal experiences can compound and prolong our emotional suffering, at the same time damaging the quality of our lives.
I’ll subsequently write more posts on how to practise and achieve that. But from now on, start to notice those unpleasant experience, acknowledge them and accept them, instead of trying to control or avoid them.
10/9/14: Check here for some tasks to explore Mindfulness and Acceptance.