Posts tagged ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’

5 Keys on How to Manage Painful Thoughts or Memories ll By Brenda Bomgardner

5 Keys on How to Manage Painful Thoughts or Memories
Brenda Bomgardner

If you’re like many people dealing with painful thoughts or memories, you may try to go about your daily routine but they keep butting in.

The haunting thoughts frequently make it hard to concentrate on your work or to even enjoy a relaxing night at home with the family.

Some people try to wish them away, hoping to forget about the pain once and for all. Of course, many people find this temporary reprieve through drugs, alcohol, or other negative ways.

However, utilizing mindfulness skills can help with managing these thoughts and memories, and to resolve your pain better than any vice.

Consider these five important key points.

1. Accept That You Have These Thoughts or Memories

The first step in a mindfulness practice towards managing painful thoughts or memories is to accept that they are there.

You can’t run away from them, nor can you dull them with substances or usher them away using distractions. As you may have already realized, they find their way back.

Yet, accepting that these thoughts and memories exist can help to resolve the pain associated with them.

Furthermore, with acceptance comes openness and peace. You are no longer expending the mental energy to fight back those thoughts.

Granted, acceptance does require courage—the courage to accept that they exist and are not suddenly going to conveniently vanish.

2. Be Willing to Face Your Memories

Once you have accepted that your thoughts or memories exist, be willing to face them. Much like the first step, this also requires some degree of courage. Still, it’s not as impossible as it may have seemed in the past.

Keep in mind that facing every negative thought or memory all at once could be a bit overwhelming. It helps to start small and tackle them in stride.

For example, focus on one memory for starters. Remember, facing your memories does not mean fighting them. Rather, it’s a process of coming to terms with these thoughts and resolving your pain.

3. Let Go of Attachment

Next, begin the process of letting go of your attachment to those memories.

Attachment implies that you find some importance or connectedness to the thought or memory. This is true even if they are painful and cause you a lot of emotional pain.

By detaching, you are separating yourself from the memory. This allows you to look at the thought or memory more objectively. Then, you can let it go and allow it to drift away.

One example of doing this is the “Leaves on the Stream” exercise. Quite simply, you imagine a stream with leaves. Each leaf represents a memory. You can observe the stream carrying those memories away down the stream.

5. Forgive Yourself

Often, when you hold onto painful memories or thoughts it’s because of feelings associated with guilt or shame. As a result, reliving the memory acts as a form of self-punishment.

For example, someone who experienced trauma related to war may “torture” themselves by asking “why did I survive?” They feel guilty that they lived but their comrades did not.

A key to managing painful thoughts and memories includes the decision to forgive yourself for what happened.

Tormenting yourself won’t change things or alter the past. However, forgiveness does let you move forward and embrace the life you have now.

Everyone has memories or thoughts that they’d rather forget. Yet, for some, these thoughts and memories cause so much mental anguish that it’s debilitating.

If this is you, consider trying these five keys to managing painful thoughts or memories.

However, if you are still struggling, recruit the support of a friend, a trusted family member, clergy, or other trained professional.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page,

However, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist who understands trauma therapy. Please, contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner


If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page,

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