ACT Stage 4 – Contextualized Self

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

“This above all. To thine own self be true.”

William Shakespeare.

6 Core Psychological Flexibility Processes

Stage 4 – Contextualized Self, to become intimate with the authentic self, the “real” self, as it is consistent and constant in life.

Authentic Self. True Self. Real Self. What do these phrases even really mean? And how do you become your contextualized self. Your authentic self. Your true self. Your real self.

I guess I would say the first step is identifying exactly WHO you are…what makes you feel alive? WHO makes you feel alive.

And, this fits SO well. To be your contextualized/authentic/true/real self, BE PRESENT. Where are you…WHAT are you…WHO are you…HOW are you. All of these things matter. This is why we’ve spent time in earlier musings exploring mindfulness, as it’s just another word for being grounded…being present…what do we see, feel, hear, smell, and taste.

Identify your friends. Who do you feel best with? Who are you most grounded with? Who are you most present with? Who will be honest with you…who can you be honest with? And finally, who among your friend group, your support group, is authentic, true, real, present?

Now many of you in my private practice know that I’m always talking about the importance of speaking your truth. It’s SO important…the point isn’t entirely what others HEAR, but, instead, the point is entirely what do YOU hear yourself say. Does it resonate with you. Do you need to say it because you need to advocate for yourself? If so, THAT is speaking your truth.

Now activate your true self, your contextualized self. Operationalize your real self. Do something every day to work towards being your best self. It’ll be challenging in the beginning, just to REMEMBER to do so. Try an app, like Meditation App (recommended by a client).

Now, reflect and assess yourself, your actions, your decisions, take a step back as it’s all too easy to become immersed so much in ourselves that we can no longer see. It’s like not seeing the forest for the trees.

And, now, finally. Ask yourself…am I doing this for ME? Or am I doing this for others. Am I doing this because I feel that I should? Am I doing this because I feel like it’s the fashionable thing to do? What is my motivation? Check in with yourself. BE MINDFUL!

In case any of you wonder, it’s not easy being authentic, true, real, your contextualized self. It might mean that you have to go against societal norms or cultural norms, or religious norms. BUT, not being true to yourself can create such turmoil and chaos.

I guess my best advice would be to “first do no harm.” A common misperception is that this phrase is part of the Hippocratic Oath. It is not, but it is no less valid or valuable because it isn’t part of the oath. It’s actually an ancient Latin phrase, “primum non nocere.” It’s quite prevalent in the healthcare field, which is one of the reasons that I like it, and I feel that it’s a core component in my practice as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

In all you do, be kind. Be respectful. Be ethical. Be thoughtful. Be consistent. Be considerate. Be generous.

Stay tuned for the next Mental Health Musings, which will explore Stage 5 – Values, to identify what is most important to you.

Just a reminder, there are actually 6 Core Psychological Flexibility Processes within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Next week we will explore Stage 5, and the next musings will focus on Stage 6.

Finally, at that point, I will present, again, the 6 Core Psychological Flexibility Processes in their entirety, in summary.

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.


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