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Psychological Rigidity

The opposite of psychological flexibility is psychological rigidity. Steven C. Hayes in A Liberated Mind says, "We fall into patterns of psychological rigidity, where we try to run from or fight off the mental challenges we face, and we disappear into rumination, worry, distraction, self-stimulation, work without end, or other forms of mindlessness, all in the attempt to evade the pain we're feeling. Psychological rigidity is at its core an attempt to avoid negative thoughts and feelings caused by difficult experiences, both when they occur and in our memory of them...the purpose of any coping strategy is to avoid feeling a challenging emotion or thinking an upsetting thought, to wipe out a painful memory or look away from a difficult sensation, the long term outcome will almost always be poor....


We are paying a psychological price because what is really wrong is treating life as a problem to be solved rather than a process to be lived. In the external world, acting to eliminate pain is a vital survival instinct. Responding to 'Get your hand off the hot stove!' or to 'Eat because you haven't eaten all day' is important to our successful functioning and anyone who ignores such commands will pay a high price. But in the internal world of thoughts and feelings, it's a different story. A memory or emotion is not like a hot stove or a lack of food. What makes logical sense for action in the outside world does not necessarily make psychological sense in the world of thoughts and feelings."


Physically move two step forwards and then take one step back. That makes sense in the physical world. You can see it. Measure it. Now in your mind with your thoughts and emotions take two steps forward and one step back....It's really not the same. I will be adding more concepts ahead from A Liberated Mind that I hope will be helpful in continuing to live a meaningful life - even in the midst of unpleasant emotions or thoughts.


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