Bootcamp #7 – ACT Accept, Choose, & Take Action

warrior 3 pose silhouette

Wrap up to Session 6 –

Questions from eNinja boot camp group:

Q 1. I missed the original sign-up. How do I join?

A 1. You can start, stop, and start again, anytime.  Move at your own pace.

Q 2. How much does eNinja boot camp cost?

A 2. Your time and effort.  This is a free boot camp for the willing.  The costs are for individual feedback only.

Q 3. I am changing my thinking but it still doesn’t feel natural to think this way.

A 3. Practice….the more you do the easier it is to do!  I started teaching ACT skills in 1998.  Many of my clients, now students, have said that they believed that shame and criticism helped them to achieve more or to be a better person.  In this boot camp, you are learning to use ACT skills without having to get rid of your old habits of thought.  Now that you have a choice, you will now choose the habits that support your stated values – to walking your talk!

Living a life that you value requires you to:

Accept => Choose Path => To move towards what is valued, what you say you love.


eNinja Session 7. ACT – Accept, Choose, and Take Action.


  • Accept thoughts and feelings, be present;
  • Choose a valued direction;
  • Take Action, to move towards what you say you value, what you love.

By this time in our lives, most of us have lived through something painful, a trauma to our body and our hearts.  Often, I hear, “this happened to me” with the silent surrender that the profound event will never be accepted. Who would accept that someone (purposely) harmed you, physically, mentally or emotionally?  The trick is, what you experienced is NOT what is Accepted. I do not accept that I was assaulted; I do accept that the event took place.

This is tricky.  Like the closed fist exercise # 11 in session 6 or exercise # 7, “I am a Failure” in session 4, acceptance does not mean I accept; rather I no longer chose to avoid what took place. It means I am now willing to sit with What was/Is, this terribly painful event, so that I can find a way to heal and move on, choosing to live a life that I love.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Acceptance is only the hardest thing”.

Tara Brach, “The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom”.

The following is a short excerpt from, Awakening from the Trance of Unworthiness:

“Carl Jung describes a paradigm shift in understanding the spiritual path: Rather than climbing up a ladder seeking perfection, we are unfolding into wholeness. We’re not trying to transcend or vanquish the difficult energies we consider wrong—the fear, shame, jealousy, anger—since this only creates a shadow that fuels our sense of deficiency. Rather, we’re learning to turn around and embrace life in all its realness—broken, messy, vivid, alive. This is the way out of trance: mindfully recognizing and bringing compassion to the parts of our being we have habitually ignored, pushed away, condemned.

This open and accepting attention is radical, because it flies in the face of our conditioning to assess what’s happening as wrong. We are de-conditioning the habit of turning against ourselves. Each time we can mindfully pause and refrain from fear-based activities of blaming, striving, or self-numbing, the trance of unworthiness begins to lift. It is this willingness to stop and deepen our attention—what I call ‘the sacred art of pausing’—that is at the center of all spiritual practice. Because we get so lost in our fear-driven reactivity, we need to pause frequently.

If I pause in the midst of feeling even mildly anxious or depressed and ask, “What am I believing?” I usually discover an assumption that I’m falling short or about to fail in some way. The emotions around this belief become more conscious as I further inquire, “What wants attention or acceptance in this moment?”

Frequently, I find contractions of fear under the story of insufficiency. The more I can recognize the mental story and open directly to the bodily sense of fear with radical acceptance and compassion, the more than trance of unworthiness begins to dissolve. Rather than the impossible climb to perfection, I’m relaxing and opening into wholeness.”

eN exercise – 13: “The boundary to what we can accept is the boundary to our freedom.”

Declare what stops you from moving forward, living a life that you value.

In session 1, you began to consider the Force, what stops you, holds you back from living a life that you say would love, if only.  Write down your response to the following:

  1. If only this did not happen……………………………………………………………
  2. If I could go back in time I would…………………………………………………….
  3. If my parent(s) had been paying attention, I would ………………………………..
  4. I regret…………………………………………………………………………………….
  5. I continue to avoid having these thoughts…………………………………………

Can you feel the struggle in these queries?  Make a fist while saying whatever you wrote as your response.  What can you do with a fist?

Alternatively, on a blank sheet of paper, with a word or two, write down a response to any of the five questions above, for example:

“Hurt Others”

While I regret that I hurt more than a few friends in my lifetime, hanging on to that thought, that I “Hurt Others”, brings me pain.  It takes me back to There-Then.  I recall acting like a nasty-mean person and I have a hard time loving, nasty and mean. In my acceptance of where ever I was at that time in my life, lost, in pain, ignorant or selfish, moving towards what I love, also means accepting the regret. Right here, I no longer avoid having that thought.  In the Here-Now, I am working towards forgiveness as I let go of the regret.  Accepting that I have the capacity to be nasty-mean, helps me then to re-focus on the value of loving and letting go.  I cannot go back to fix. Loving what is, I can now move toward living a life that I value. Whenever nasty-mean shows up, I can now smile and say, “oh there you are”.  I can wisely choose my next action.

To further put the work of ACT, into context, I offer the following true story of acceptance from my case files.

When a middle-aged client came into my office and stated that her husband was suing her for divorce, she added that “her life was over”. I encouraged her to sit with the thought she was having that her life was over.  By asking her to be willing to open up, together we unpacked her fear, the shame, that were rolled up into that one, sad, terrifying statement.  She was able to recognize the power in her automatic thought that her life was over if she was not a mother, a wife and married to her husband.  She had lived this role for most of her adult life and she could not imagine not being a married woman.

She was certainly trapped in pain of There-Then and the worry of What-if, and finding it difficult to be in the present, Here-Now. She had merged all her doing into who she was (the value of her), within the context of her marriage, she was all three, a mother, a wife, and a married woman.

I am = Married Woman + Wife + Mother

When she was ready and willing to be open to what else could be true, she came to realize that the life she had known was over.  As we sat with this, I asked if she would be willing to engage in the exercise, “Definition of Me”.  As she poured out the duties, roles, and responsibilities she knew well, including: sister, daughter, friend, wife and mother, she was able to widen her own view of what her life had held so far.  She began to recognize that her life, her world was larger than Married Woman. In fact, she could appreciate that mother was attached to wife but not essential to her valued role as a mother to her children.

We then moved on to letting go of the role of wife and married woman.  Aware now how automatic her sense of wife and mother had been, she understood that she needed to mourn this loss of her role as a wife, but not at the exclusion of everything else she has valued.  It was not an all or none exercise as she had originally assumed.

It would be, however, a significant task, one that required starting from a secure base, to ground her in Here-Now, so she might prepare the emotional heavy lifting. She took stock in how she could care for herself, her pain, as she worked to accept what is? When she was ready, she was willing to be curious and began to notice all the thoughts running around inside her head. Some were spouting gloom and doom, some hopeless and a few even wondered, what else could be.

She began the process of making room for additional thoughts, moving the unworkable, unhelpful thoughts to one side.  She considered which thoughts might not actually be true. I asked her to write these thoughts down and to sort them into columns marked workable and unworkable.  Once she finished she put the paper on a bench called “to be considered later or not at all”.  She concluded that she needed to be mindful and curious about how many and how varied her thoughts were, dragging her to the past, or propelling her to an unknowable future.

As her thinking widened and become more flexibly, she had fresh space to work with, and she got out another sheet of paper.  She wrote down the word, Imagine.  She began brainstorming what her life might look like going forward.  Her new path to re-asses who she was in this new, no longer married, context.  Who am I, not married?  Learning to be Here-Now, sitting with what is, helped her to discover what really mattered, what she valued, and to imagine what might be possible. It gave her the space to imagine her purpose.  This purpose, what she valued helped her envision a path to move towards.  Moving forward, Living a valued and vital life!

eN exercise – 14.  Definition of Me. Who Am I?

Take out a sheet of paper, or if you can, put a large piece of paper on the wall. Plan to add to this wall over the next two weeks.

Write out every role you have ever had in your life.  With each role also consider the time frame as well as your age and ability; for example, when you write down, a friend, you might add, a young friend and an older, wiser friend. Each role we undertake in our lives evolves as we grow and learn more about our world and who we are in each context.



Open to thinking differently about Pain and Fear

Willing to be wrong or confused, to not know what they don’t know

Curious about awkward, or what seems to be difficult to accept

Imagine following what is of value, what they love – with the intent to move in that direction.

To read Tara’s full article, go here:

eN extra credit:  watch this video – Thinking Fast and Slow – Ten More


stay tuned.


Scroll Up