Psychological flexibility: what is it, and how can it help us?

In the first of our series of articles about psychological flexibility, psychological therapist and OK Positive’s clinical director, Helen, explains the key benefits and how it can help you.

In today’s busy and ever-changing world, it’s easy to spend most of our time just ‘getting on with life’ doing things on autopilot. Now more than ever, it pays to be aware of our thoughts, feelings, urges and reactions—and how they affect how we behave in the world.

When we feel uncomfortable emotions, our automatic reaction is to avoid or get rid of them. We do things like drink too much, eat, exercise, or avoid stressful situations. If this goes unnoticed for a period of time, it can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Trying to control our emotions (being inflexible) can become the problem rather than the solution.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy—ACT—is a psychological approach with strong scientific backing and has proven to be effective to both individuals and organisations.

ACT techniques can help us become more psychologically flexible, which means we are more likely to experience a wider range of emotions, focus on being present ‘in the moment’ and live the life that matters most to us, guided by our deepest values.