We understand there may be clients who may have a propensity toward getting stuck in what could be described as a perpetual mental rut. This ruminating pattern may come about due to their response toward a particular feeling, the replaying of a past event and theirs or others participation in said event, an idea or fantasizing about their future, and subsequent reactions to the aforementioned such as searching for the “why” to one or some of those, an inability to see or conceptualize factual information about situations or themselves or the overwhelming desire to avoid/escape an aspect of themselves or the condition/state where they currently are within the scope of their lives.
Whatever the “it” may be at the crux of this rut, that obsessive mind can drown out other perspectives and views, keeping them locked into battle with themselves and trapped in solely this one element of being as opposed to simply allowing for the feeling and the thought and the observation thereof. The trappings of the mind and state of being while in such an internally narrowed existence can be the garden/ground/growing for the propensity to seek comfort in the attempt to remove the self from the “stuck” thought or the “rut” with avoidance or escapist routes, i.e. drugs and alcohol.
In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) placing reactions and responses and definitions of self on these feelings and thoughts can continue to keep clients stuck and not allow for the possibility to move past said thinking, feeling, and responding. Within that, the mind is causing suffering, be it being stuck on an unknowable – the “Why” or trapped in the unending loop of “should of”, “could of”, “would of”, “if only”, “what if”, “how come”, etc. or perhaps it’s about a particular character trait they have which they find objectionable, a skewed view regarding a different piece of their personal puzzle,
In ACT, the client has the opportunity to recognize ideas, feelings, thoughts, events without the need to take an immediate reactive action. There is a way to gain a true view of what’s transpiring and distance previous to acting on said items, be it physically, emotionally, mentally, even to the extent of responding where a response would have previously always been the case. The client can learn particular types of events, one that may traditionally have incited agitation, do so no longer and instead of reacting to the feeling of being agitated, the client can recognize it being there, fully acknowledge its existence, and move forward without acting out. Say, in the past where screaming and yelling may have been the original go to, the client learns to take positive action and defuse previous responses of what had become ingrained behavior and doing so cognitively, and repetitively, the client may be able to retrain their mind, and, therefore, those previous behaviors.
As the client progresses in having these experiences, continuing these types of observations and subsequent change in behaviors, a greater understanding, a trust of self and an acceptance of self – their strengths, their weaknesses, their traits, as well as what they can truly do and not do becomes apparent and is continually directed into their purview by the therapist. As the client sees their progress toward being able to separate themselves from having to be reactive when seeing difficulties in their life, the therapist works with them to recognize it, accept what is, choose another option instead of avoidance or escapism, and take subsequent action to deal with the difficulty from a less emotionally, irrationally convoluted place.
With continued work in this modality, clients can gain greater ground in responding and not reacting and by changing responses and awareness, the client may be able to see a change in their thinking and feeling and that can provide a sturdier sense of both self and surroundings.
We at Alo House believe that with the acceptance of what is, comes the ability to make true, informed choices and when informed choices in truth can be made, then the actions next taken can be done so in wisdom.