Before we reflect and transform we accept what is.

As the Arab saying goes,

one cannot mount a camel

which has not yet arrived
(the future) 

nor one which has already departed
(the past)

An ‘A.R.T.ful‘ existence intentionally, actively and mindfully embraces all parts of  life — as it is now and how it has been so far.

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

–Søren Kierkegaard

Before you can make new, you need to understand and accept the foundation of your identity matrix as it is now. You need to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly.  

You are in charge. You are the agent of your identity narrative. Say yes to this truth and speak it with confidence. This opens the door to a more reasoned, creative, productive,  and growth mindset.

Further, it happens more readily when the ego settles down and we can adapt without self-defense or self-judgment. 

Acceptance is an alternative to avoidance

thinking (with an open mind) is difficult

that’s why most people judge

–Carl Jung

accept some chaos with transformations

stepping out of F.E.A.R.

> F. …fusion with your thoughts ▶︎ stop being your thoughts

> E …evaluation of experience ▶︎ careful of distorted judging

> A. …avoidance of  experience ▶︎ accepting is empowering

> R. …reason-giving  ▶︎ this can prevent healthy reflection and transformation; it also magnifies the issue if there is one

Love and Trust
fear and doubt

a.c.t. as a path to acceptance

Acceptance and commitment therapy focuses on 3 areas:

▶︎ accept your reactions and be present
▶︎ choose a valued direction — careful select your core values and stick to them with integrity until your feel some adaptation is necessary
▶︎ take committed action

5 acceptance strategies

1 ~ letting feelings or thoughts happen without reacting — accept them and expand to make room for those unpleasant feelings, sensations and urges instead of trying to suppress them or push them away

2 ~ observe both your strengths and weaknesses connecting with the present moment — this involves allowing ourselves to experience sensations, feelings and thoughts which have arisen 

3 ~ give yourself permission to not be good at everything — yet, taking action means effective action, not just any old action

4 ~ consciously acknowledge and engage the challenges in your life without trying to avoiding them — practising the skill of grounding ourselves in the present moment 

5 ~ realize that you can be the agent of your ‘narrative’ and determine how you react, interact, think and feel

narrative distancing

Narrative distancing, which is a strategy used by writers such as Haruki Murakami, puts you closer to the role of agent of your narrative-story.  Consider thoughts, emotions and behaviours as well as your interactions in the world, though you are the observing Self or ‘Consciousness’.

This technique, applied in the ‘writing’ of your own identity-narrative, let’s you access a observe the matrix of your ‘Self’. It empowers us in transcending the subjective for a more objective sense of what is going on in our lives. 

relaxation to promote insightful contemplation

Relaxed breathing techniques are important to learn so you can apply them spontaneously when in the most difficult or challenging situations. This breathing exercise slows breathing, clears thinking and helps with sleep. 

I am my body, and I am more than my body

I am my feelings and I am more than my feelings

I am my mind and yet

I am more than my mind 

— Palmer

Acceptance with defusion strategies

1 ~ observe what you are feeling including physical sensations

2 ~ notice your feelings are you experience different situations

3 ~ check that your interpretations are based in reality

4 ~ counter negative self-talk with realistic, positive ones

5 ~ re-evaluate your experience with your new-found outlook

2 steps to reframing thoughts

1 ~ awareness
2 ~ using countering skills

first we build awareness
of the ‘triggers’:

W5H1 — the who, what, where, why and how of situations that trigger thoughts, emotions or behaviours you would rather not have

of the behaviours:

what did you do or say or what urges did you have as a result of the trigger

of the feelings:

feelings are one word mood descriptors; label the feeling and then rate it from 1 to 100

of the thoughts:

what automatic almost instinctual, habitual thought came to mind as a result of the triggering situation; ‘hot thoughts’ are the ones causing the most distress; are any of these thoughts distorted?

then, counter these thoughts or emotions

We have the choice to counter these thoughts with alternative interpretations, coping statements, and reframe our thinking, emotions and behaviours.

Keep this in first person “I” statements, staying in the present and include proof or evidence to support this thought. Use positive wording avoiding ‘should have’ statements.

Fusion your belief system with every thought or emotions you spontaneously have is called cognitive fusion. Remember:

Thoughts are not actually happening, they are not necessary the truth, they can be non-important, they are not orders, they are not necessarily wise and they are not threats unless you let them be.

Just as you would expand on ideas that someone else might have, you should expand on your thinking and emotions. This is another way of looking at acceptance because it takes the thoughts and emotions and puts them (out-there) to be looked instead accepting as a means to repress.

acceptance with compassionate validating environments

Choose your environments and people who surround you, carefully. Acceptance does not mean accepting invalidating or hurtful behaviour or speech. Chronically suicidal patients  are commonly raised in profoundly invalidating environments.

The biosocial theory of BPD (borderline personality disorder) suggests there is a biological predisposition for emotional dysregulation. This is further compromised by a social environment which is invalidating or validates (enables)  maladaptive behavior.

practice equanimity, love and trust 

Therefore, clients required a climate of loving-kindness and somewhat unconditional acceptance. This is similar to that of Thích Nhất Hạnh’s metaphysically neutral one in which therapeutic alliance is successfully developed. 

Wear a love and trust bracelet just for that purpose to remind you to see the world from that perspective in every moment towards every thing and event.

7 body chakra energy centres

Begin the loving-compassion practice with self-compassion and self-respect. You are the ultimate source of this unconditional respect and validation.

The energies you create are those of fear and doubt or love and trust.

The second type allow energy to flow more freely through your body for better overall health. Further, it promotes the sharing of unconditional acceptance.

it is not the strongest of the species that survive

nor the most intelligent

but the one most responsive to change

—- Darwin

a life worth living 

The ultimate goal of all of these skills and strategies including ART is to build a “life worth living” that is unique to your genuine self.

Take the time to look after yourself:




A.  R.  T.

a foundation for active reflection and transformation

When you accept, you also reflect and transform. They are looping threads highlighting the connections, within and with the world around you.

If you were to do a thought experiment, you might visually imagine a matrix or mind map. This expands your story or identity-narrative as it branches out and interconnects.

By consciously building worldviews and core values, with acceptance and commitment, you become increasingly aware of your authentic identity-narrative.

And, it is only be being actively involved in the process that these empowering attributes enhance authentic thinking and acting, with integrity.


Namasté, Leah

© 2019 Leah J Spence, M.Ed. Psychology writer/artist/teacher
The ART of Living the Matrix

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