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The Six Behaviour Drivers In Our Lives That Can Make Us Feel Both Miserable And Wonderful ‒ Part 2

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.


In the previous part of this 2-part article, which you can find here, I wrote about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT is a very practical, here-and-now-focused counselling modality. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy looks at how we think, feel and behave our way through the various contexts of our lives: our work; our relationships; our health; our personal and spiritual development, etc. I also discussed that ACT suggests that there are six “core yearnings” (core drivers) in each and every one of us that influence our thoughts, moods and behaviours.

When are core yearnings are being met, we tend to have “good” thoughts and feelings; when our core yearnings are being challenged, we tend to think ineffectively and feel “bad”. Both of these “thinking and feeling good or bad” states strongly affect our behaviour. When we feel good, we want to feel EVEN better and hold on to that good feeling, so we behave in ways that could get us to those feelings. We DO NOT want to feel bad, and therefore we take action to get rid of or avoid that feeling. In the case of our core yearnings, when they are not being met, we feel quite unsettled and discontented.

I covered the first three yearnings in the previous article. Here I’d like to continue by discussing the last three.

Yearning for Feeling

Whether you like it or not, we are feeling beings who think. We’re not thinking beings who feel. One of my favourite neuroscientists, Jill Bolte-Taylor, came up with this statement. The desire to “feel”, to be in contact with our experiences, creates a problem, as we also want to be and feel safe. If we “fully feel”, we may very well NOT “feel safe”, especially when we are in situations that seem to threaten us (financial, employment, relationships, housing, disasters, etc.). As a protective measure, we then try as hard as we can to feel “less”, and to feel “less often”. On the other hand, we DO want to feel more “good stuff”, but that is not always possible. This way, we get caught in our own experiences with wanting to feel AND wanting not to feel at the same time. Ultimately, we then often settle for trying to feel nothing at all, to numb ourselves, which is totally against our natural desire and -in a cruel twist of fate actually “feels” problematic. And so the cycle continues.

Yearning for Self-Directed Meaning

Inside all of us exists a desire and drive for freedom. We want to set the direction of our lives, be in control of our actions, and want to be the ones who decide what is happening next. When we feel we are not in control of what we can do next (e.g., lockdowns and travel restrictions in times of COVID; lay-offs in tough economic times), or cannot make choices for ourselves (e.g., government restrictions or laws & rules we don’t agree with), we start to experience pressure and stress. We all know this feeling of being “stuck”, with few or no options to make decisions for ourselves. It does not feel good.

Yearning for Competence

Each and every one of us want to be good at “something”; to be competent. A drive to be successful at life, or at as many facets of life as possible, expresses itself from a very early age. The praise we get and the satisfaction we feel when we succeed nurture us on a deep level. As I heard say a long time ago: “babies cry for it; grown men die for it”.

If success isn’t possible, or if we stuff up, we generally find it hard to admit (and feel) failure. We would rather try harder, and harder still. If we still don’t succeed to our liking, we then often freeze up, and give up. Even simple steps become seemingly impossible to take because we now fear failing so much, that we think it’s better not to try at all. This doesn’t align with the yearning for self-directed meaning and orientation. This does not feel good at all, so we then get caught in not wanting to feel. A tough spot to be in.

So, there you have them -with the three from previous month; the six core yearnings ACT identifies. Why is this important information? Well, see it this way: if we find ourselves in one of life’s tough spots where we’re not feeling great and struggling with ourselves or with “life in general” a bit, it could be helpful to think about which of the core yearnings have been affected by that situation. There is no need to blame, point fingers or run away from feelings. Merely investigate where in life we think we have lost touch with our core “drive(r)s”! Once we have a good idea of what is going on, we can then, in that particular area, start bringing back what we think we have lost. That might sound easier than it seems to be, but you would be surprised; to commit to a little bit more of what seems to be missing goes a long way in helping us live a more fulfilling, rich and meaningful life!

Start this process off yourself, and link in with me if you think that is useful. If life is going well: nice. You probably have all -or at least the majority of the core yearnings covered in some way. Keep up the good work. If life is not going the way you like: do some research, check out what has happened, and which yearnings seem to have been affected. We can work together on restoring the balance.

Remember that, according to ACT, it is ok not to be ok. Yet, it is also ok, even when you are not feeling great, to keep working towards a more effective way, and to aim for a rich and meaningful life. The seeming opposites can co-exist, and the results of your efforts can be life-changing.

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


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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