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Breaking Free: Celebrating Your Own Independence Day from Toxic Relationships with ACT

Relationships are vital in forming our identities and worldviews during life’s journey. While many relationships can provide us with happiness and support, others can turn toxic and drain us of our self-worth and energy. It is imperative for one’s mental and emotional health to leave these toxic relationships behind. Although this process may be difficult, you may restore your freedom and rejoice in a fresh start if you have the appropriate resources and attitude. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a useful strategy for reaching this goal.

A relationship is toxic when your happiness, well-being, and safety are threatened emotionally, psychologically, and even physically. These interactions can include controlling behaviors, manipulation, unrelenting criticism, disrespectful attitude and being hit. These unfavorable interactions have the potential to cause anxiety, melancholy, and worthlessness over time. The type of relationships can include romantic, friendships, family, work, etc.

A type of psychotherapy known as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) encourages patients to embrace their ideas and feelings rather than resisting them or feeling bad about them. The foundation of ACT consists of six fundamental processes: values, committed action, acceptance, cognitive defusion, being present, and self as context. These processes aid in the development of psychological flexibility, which enables people to adjust to changing circumstances while upholding their moral principles.

  1. **Acceptance**: The first stage in ACT is to acknowledge, without passing judgment, your thoughts and feelings regarding the toxic relationship. This indicates that you recognize the situation rather than accepting it. Moving on can be easier when you accept your thoughts and feelings and lessen the effort you put into fighting them.

  2. **Cognitive Defusion**: Negative ideas about ourselves are frequently reinforced in toxic relationships, warping our thinking. Mindfulness exercises and other cognitive defusion approaches can assist you in seeing these thoughts without becoming sucked into them. Reducing the power of thoughts over you means acknowledging them for what they are: thoughts.

  3. **Being Present**: An essential component of ACT is mindfulness training. Remaining in the present moment means not getting sucked into regretting the past or worrying about the future. This can help you focus on healing in the here and now, which can be especially beneficial when dealing with the fallout from a toxic relationship.

  4. **Self as Context**: To do this, you must view yourself as more than just your experiences, thoughts, feelings and ideas. Gaining perspective on the toxic relationship and your life beyond it might be achieved by acknowledging that you are a complicated human with a wider background. Not forgetting that no matter how you view yourself, you are still you.

  5. **Values**: A key component of ACT is recognizing and relating to your core values. Think about your priorities and the kind of person you want to be. Your decisions and actions as you leave the toxic relationship can be guided by this clarity.

  6. **Committed Action**: Acting by your values is the last phase. This could entail establishing limits, looking for assistance, or making big life adjustments. Taking courageous action means moving toward your desired life despite any discomfort or fear.

The Independence Day, observed on July 4th in the US, is a fitting metaphor for commemorating your recent release from a toxic relationship. You, too, can commemorate this day as a personal achievement of freedom and empowerment, coinciding with the country’s celebration of its independence. Here are some ideas for celebrations:

  1. **Reflect and Journal**: Spend some time writing about your experience, praising your development and the strength it needed to leave the harmful relationship.
  2. **Self-Care Activities**: Take part in physical and mental well-being-promoting activities. This could be taking a leisurely bath or going on a trip in the outdoors.
  3. **Build Relationships with Loved Ones**: Assist and encourage those around you. Having supportive social networks might help you feel more independent healthy and wellness.
  4. **Set New Goals**: Take this chance to establish new objectives, either career- or personally related. Honor your independence by making plans for a future consistent with your goals and values.
  5. **Create a Ritual**: To celebrate your independence, come up with a customized ritual. This might be a yearly occasion or a symbolic act to serve as a reminder of your fortitude and resiliency.

It takes guts and self-love to embrace your freedom from a toxic relationship. You can manage the challenges of this change and develop a stronger bond with your values and self by applying the ACT principles. Never forget that every step you take to live a better, more satisfying life is a win to be proud of.

Feel like talking with one of our therapists during your difficult time. Or maybe you want to discuss medications with our APRNs. We are here for you.  We have many services to offer. Please give our office a call to schedule an appointment. Here at Caliper Wellness we offer many services to help guide you to gain your independence. We are waiting to help you celebrate.

1. Harris, R. (2019). *ACT Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*. New Harbinger Publications.

2. Hayes, S. C., & Smith, S. (2020). *Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*. New Harbinger Publications.

3. Ho, E., & Hook, J. N. (2021). *The Use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Heal from Toxic Relationships*. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 20, 87-98.