You can also learn about the ACT Matrix at the “The ACT Matrix Academy“.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or Training (ACT) is built on the simple notion that language is both wonderful and a trap. It’s wonderful in that it allows humans to communicate and cooperate with each other in infinite ways, leading to tremendous human invention. Language has literally helped take us to the moon and beyond.

Language turned inward, however, can be a trap. We humans can get trapped in an endless loop of struggling with our own thoughts, feelings and urges. It is often suggested that we fight off or get rid of troubling mental activity; as if mental matters were some old book that could be trashed or given away.

ACT takes a different approach. Instead of struggling to get rid of or reduce the stuff going on in the brain, we accept it. Why? Because the human mind remembers all. To not think about something is to think about the very thing you did not want to think about. If you don’t want a feeling, then you have the feeling all the more. In other words, struggling to not have the stuff of our minds leads to more struggling, and that can lead to suffering.

Switching from trying to ‘not have’ the stuff of the mind to accepting it is not that hard, it’s just a bit tricky. Because the old “I don’t want my own mental stuff” is always there, it’s easy to fall back into struggling. On the other hand, accepting that your mind generates all kinds of stuff, even very unnecessary unpleasant stuff, is easy to grasp too. There are many exercises in ACT that help us let go of the struggling and move toward accepting the stuff of our minds.

Commitment: While letting go of struggling with mental activity is important, as important is knowing who and what’s important to us. Moving toward who and what’s important to us is literally ‘what makes the world go round.’ Clarifying who and what’s important to us is very important, and it’s a big part of ACT.

And most important is the acronym itself, ACT. It’s pronounced as if you were speaking about an action in a Broadway show. ACT is as much an abbreviation for ACTION as it is an acronym. The stuff that makes the world go round is DOING the stuff that makes the world go round. Knowing that someone is important only comes to life in action. A few words, a hand shake, or a hug bring satisfaction and importance to life. Sometimes bridging that gap between knowing who and what’s important and taking committed action toward who and what’s important can be difficult.

So there you have it. ACT is about accepting rather than struggling with the stuff of our minds while taking action toward who and what’s important to us. Simple and tricky at the same time.