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The Six Behaviour Drivers In Our Lives That Can Make Us Feel Both Miserable And Wonderful ‒ Part 1

Written by: Marc de Bruin, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

When it comes to counselling and therapeutic modalities, I am a fervent supporter of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT has been developed since 1986 by American Psychology Professor Steven Hayes (and others). The principal idea behind ACT is that “it is ok not to be ok”, and that it is also ok to ‒ despite not being ok ‒ keep committing to actions that enrich our lives. So, on the one hand, ACT is about Acceptance of “what is”, while it on the other hand also is about Commitment to what seems to be more effective, what serves us better, and makes life richer.

Pain and suffering seem to be unavoidable parts of our lives. We all go through times and events when we are not doing well at all. Despite that, ACT says, we can still remain focused on creating a rich, meaningful existence. You may not feel good, but at least you will keep heading in the right direction. ACT is a very practical, here-and-now-focused modality that looks at how we live our lives in the different contexts of our lives: work, relationships, money, health, spirituality, etc. I will be discussing ACT more often in my articles because it seems such a “simple” approach (and I like simple!). Yet, that seeming simplicity can have profound results.


To start off our discussion, let’s look at some of the reasons why we could find ourselves “stuck”, according to ACT. ACT states that six “core yearnings” – deep-seated reasons that motivate us to do things and to behave in certain ways ‒ can both lead us to our greatest triumphs, and to our deepest pits of misery. These yearnings are so basic that we all share them. When the yearnings are met, we generally feel good; when the core yearnings are not met, not so much! I’ll discuss three of these desires, these yearnings, in this article; the remaining three will be discussed in my next contribution.


Yearning for Belonging


This is probably the first and foremost important desire we have: we want to belong. It’s built into our DNA, our survival-neurology. If we are left behind, are alone and isolated, there is a chance we will ‒ literally! ‒ not survive. In olden times, being all by yourself without protection from the group, would mean death, in many cases. And that fear is built into our DNA. When we are part of a group, we feel protected and safe. It is when we think our group is rejecting us; when we don’t feel accepted; when we run the risk of being pushed out and alone, then we suffer. “I don’t belong; I am alone”, or “I am not good enough” can trigger deep suffering in people.


Yearning for Coherence


We all want life to make sense, somehow. As long as things, experiences and people are predictable, as long as we can trust them to be consistent, we are generally doing ok. We can then “rely” on them. As soon as our sense of coherence is blown to pieces (look at the COVID-era, for instance; the dobbing in of people who do the “wrong thing”; the “new world order”, etc.), we tend to suffer. “How could this have happened?” “This is not right.” “Why did this happen to me?” “What is going on with that person?” are questions that come up. Traumatic experiences, for instance, severely impact our yearning for coherence.


Yearning for Orientation


There is an inner drive in us to “know ourselves” in relation to our past, our present, and future. When we know what direction life has taken and will be taking; where we came from; where we are, and where we think we are going, life is ok. When things are not “as they were/are supposed to be”, or we don’t know “how to get back” or “how to move forward”, we nearly literally become dis-oriented in time and space, which can cause major problems. Mid-life crises are an example of this; the uncertain “post-COVID” world is another.


Do you recognise one (or all) of these three deep drivers in your life? When we feel alone, when life doesn’t seem to make sense, and when we have no idea where we’re going from here, life can get tricky. This has definitely been my experience, and the experience my clients reported over the 2020-2022 period, or so.

The three yearnings I will cover in my next article (Feeling; Self-directed meaning and Competence) add their own flavour to this, and the end result can feel quite uncomfortable. The good news is that we, despite feeling that way, can keep heading in more promising directions. And research results show that, usually, engaging in that process will lead to better outcomes in the medium to long-term.


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Marc de Bruin, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marc is a Registered International Counsellor, Supervisor and Educator "with a twist". If you're looking for a run-of-the-mill mental health professional, feel free to contact one of his very capable colleagues. Marc looks at life through a different lens, with a transpersonal, even "spiritual" filter. Expect to discuss your life from a bigger perspective, while still being very practical (Marc is an ex-litigation lawyer, too, so very solution-focused); and expect to work from the inside out: YOU will change before your circumstances will. In order for things to change, you'll be the one to change some things. If that sounds like something you are up for, Marc is ready for you.

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