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A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What…

A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters (original 2019; edition 2019)

by Steven C. Hayes PhD (Author)

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"In all my years studying personal growth, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is one of the most useful tools I've ever come across, and in this book, Dr. Hayes describes it with more depth and clarity than ever before."-Mark Manson, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck Life is not a problem to be solved. ACT shows how we can live full and meaningful lives by embracing our vulnerability and turning toward what hurts. In this landmark book, the originator and pioneering researcher into Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) lays out the psychological flexibility skills that make it one of the most powerful approaches research has yet to offer. These skills have been shown to help even where other approaches have failed. Science shows that they are useful in virtually every area--mental health (anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, PTSD); physical health (chronic pain, dealing with diabetes, facing cancer); social processes (relationship issues, prejudice, stigma, domestic violence); and performance (sports, business, diet, exercise). How does psychological flexibility help? We struggle because the problem-solving mind tells us to run from what causes us fear and hurt. But we hurt where we care. If we run from a sense of vulnerability, we must also run from what we care about. By learning how to liberate ourselves, we can live with meaning and purpose, along with our pain when there is pain. Although that is a simple idea, it resists our instincts and programming. The flexibility skills counter those ingrained tendencies. They include noticing our thoughts with curiosity, opening to our emotions, attending to what is in the present, learning the art of perspective taking, discovering our deepest values, and building habits based around what we deeply want. Beginning with the epiphany Steven Hayes had during a panic attack, this book is a powerful narrative of scientific discovery filled with moving stories as well as advice for how we can put flexibility skills to work immediately. Hayes shows how allowing ourselves to feel fully and think freely moves us toward commitment to what truly matters to us. Finally, we can live lives that reflect the qualities we choose.… (more)
Title:A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters
Authors:Steven C. Hayes PhD (Author)
Info:Avery (2019), 448 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters by Steven C. Hayes PhD (2019)



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Summary: An introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a psychological counseling approach that develops psychological flexibility through learning acceptance rather than resistance or flight from painful thoughts and reality, and how we may pivot toward commitments rooted in what we value most deeply.

Steven C. Hayes proposes we all have a Dictator Within. We all have thoughts that cause us problems. We try not to think about pink elephants, painful experiences, messages that tell us all sorts of negative things about ourselves, or that raise our anxieties. We try to argue with those thoughts or avoid them or get rid of them, often in inflexible ruts where we go round and round with little success. At very least, we struggle with lack of peace of mind. At worst, these ways of thinking hamstring the way we live and the relationships we form.

Hayes, one of the pioneers of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) proposes a very different approach. He describes an approach that begins with acceptance of our thoughts. He proposes that one of the things that defuses the power of our thoughts is simply to stop trying to get rid of them and notice them. There is a sense that we step outside these mental processes and take perspective. And it means acceptance of the painful and approaching that pain with curiosity and openness where our goal no longer is feeling GOOD but FEELING good.

Moving from Acceptance to Commitment we learn the practice of presence, of living in the now, the present rather than a painful past or a yearned for future. We identify what we value and then identify actions to which we may commit that support our values.

After tracing the development of this approach in Part 1 and the idea of developing psychological flexibility rather than rigidity through crucial pivots in our lives, in Part 2, he describes the six pivots in greater depth:

1. Defusion--Putting the Mind on a Leash
2. Self--The Art of Perspective Taking
3. Acceptance--Learning from Pain
4. Presence--Living in the Now
5. Values--Caring by Choice
6. Action--Committing to Change

He devotes a chapter to each, sharing, and even walking us through exercises for each pivot.

In Part 3, Hayes applies ACT principles to a variety of aspects of life including healthy behaviors, mental health, nurturing relationships, various types of performance, including sports performance, spiritual well-being, and coping with illness. Here and elsewhere Hayes cites studies showing the superior effectiveness of ACT to other counseling approaches.

I cannot assess his claims. I do have two criticisms. One is how often he repeats the claim of the superiority of this approach, to a point that I found tiresome. The second is that there seemed to be an inadequate "cutting room floor" and I felt that at times, his central ideas and arguments were obscured by excessive verbiage.

Nevertheless, the ideas of acceptance, of defusing, of perspective-taking, of becoming attentive and curious, even about pain, are at the heart of contemplative spirituality that has been helpful to many. To couple this with learning to be present and to live in the now, and to allow our values to shape our commitments seem to reflect the wisdom of many approaches toward transformation. I appreciated Hayes receptiveness to religious faith and an approach that recognized the complementary character of his therapeutic approach and the formational practices in religious traditions.

Perhaps the founder of this approach may be forgiven what I criticized as excesses. He's talking about his baby! What is evident throughout the pages of this book is the author's personal embrace and passion for ACT principles, his extensive clinical practice, and the deep care he has for clients and for seeing people flourish in their lives through applying the psychological flexibility skills he teaches in this work.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. ( )
  BobonBooks | Sep 4, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I am the queen of self help books. Some are helpful, some not so much. I found this one quite helpful. I like that it's broken down simply and in ways that allows anyone to follow it and use the program. I suggest that you take your time with it. Do not read it like a novel. I found it most helpful to highlight and make notes as I went along to better be able to go back to different exercises.

*I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review* (less) ( )
  Amy_J | Aug 14, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a thoughtful and well-written book. Dr. Hayes identifies how we can get stuck in harmful patterns and provides six alternatives he calls pivots to move toward change. His style is practical and comforting, and offers hope to people who want to introduce change in their lives. ( )
  meacoleman | Aug 11, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A very in-depth and structured book by a psychologist focusing on dealing with problems and challenges we all face in our lives. The foundation is based on the ACT principles of confronting and working through these difficulties.

The author relates his own challenges in his childhood and confronting his anxiety issues that led to much of the work and ideas expressed in the book. He takes each aspect of working toward a resolution starting with the principle of acceptance. From there other steps are added in this process.

I have to be honest in my assessment that I struggled through the material here as I found it quite immersed in an academic type presentation and the related jargon. The method itself I am sure will be useful and constructive to those who take on the process, and work through it to their benefit.

The concluding chapters dealt with specific application of the method which I found a bit more practical as some of the topics discussed had meaning in my life. In general as with any constructive approach to problem acceptance and resolution value in taking action stands as the first and most important step. ( )
  knightlight777 | Jul 30, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Dr. Hayes has written an excellent book about a method of therapy he pioneered called ACT (spoken, according to the author, as "act", not by spelling out A.C.T.). ACT is an acronym for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a method which I have already been practicing through meditation and other spiritual exercises--to me, ACT parallels a group of contemplative practices but minus the spiritual underlying context. He explains the inspiration for his developing this form of therapy and offers test results and simple exercises to get readers started. Since I already use many of the tools Dr. Hayes teaches in this book, I want to give it five stars, but his constant declarations of how superior ACT is to other forms of therapy put me off, hence the lower rating. I believe that not every technique works for everyone, and that alternative therapies may well work better for some people. ( )
  nmele | Jul 29, 2019 |
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This book is dedicated to the memory of John Cloud: reporter, rascal, raconteur, friend. You believed in me and in this book, which has lifted me up every day I've worked on it. The world asks reporters to do such things, without understanding the cost. Be at peace, my friend. Be at peace.
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