Stoicism Revived: Acceptance & Commitment Theory
Does this sound familiar? It would if you lived hundreds of years ago and hung out with the group of philosophers known as the “Stoics.” Stoicism was practiced most famously by the Spartans, who used the philosophy to withstand terrible hardship and conquer impossible odds. When faced with opposition from others, for example, the Stoics would say, “It is not they who control me. I control myself, and their attacks have no effect on me.” How fascinating that this mindset receives resuscitation in ACT. For example, here is what patients undergoing ACT are told to say to themselves when they are depressed: not “I’m depressed,” but “I’m having the thought that I’m depressed.” You can’t miss the Stoicism in such a statement. The patient focuses not on their circumstance, but on their reaction to the circumstance. This is an interesting shift toward the ancient, and it’s a good thing for a discipline that has lost itself gazing into a reflecting pool of its own making.