137: Psychological Flexibility through ACT with Dr. Diana Hill

“Psychological Flexibility” sounds amazing.  Shouldn’t we all want that?  After all, psychological flexibility has been significantly positively associated with wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic, and negatively associated with anxiety, depression, and COVID-29-related distress and worry.

(But what is it, anyway?!)

Psychological Flexibility is about being fully in touch with the present moment and, based on the situation, either continuing or changing your behavior to live in better alignment with your values.

Let’s break that down a bit:

Being fully in touch with the present moment: We spend a good chunk of our lives not fully present.  And there are times when it makes sense – we don’t necessarily need to be fully present for every moment of a long drive.  As long as we’re present enough to drive safely, we don’t need to observe the exact quality of red in the tail light of the driver in front of you.

But when we spend most of our lives zoned out on our phones, or rushing from one activity to the next (probably partly so we don’t have to sit down and just be), we aren’t truly present.

Better alignment with your values: We all have values, although perhaps some of us haven’t fully articulated them.  We might value raising an independent child, but then step in every time they struggle.  We might value emotional closeness but struggle to actually do it because our parents didn’t model it for us.  When we articulate our values, we define what we’re working toward.

Based on the situation, either continuing or changing your behavior: One of my favorite parts of ACT is the Choice Point: the point at which something doesn’t feel right to you.  At this point you get to decide: Am I going to keep doing the same thing I’ve always done?  Or am I going to do something that brings me into better alignment with my values?


Want to know more?  Dr. Diana Hill, co-author with Dr. Debbie Sorensen, joins me on this episode to discuss their new book ACT Daily Journal: Get Unstuck and Live Fully with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (this is an affiliate link, so I will earn a small commission through your purchase which does not affect the price you pay).  The book walks readers through a series of exercises to help them become more psychologically flexible, through the practice of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  The concepts in ACT are ones that I’ve found to be enormously useful both personally and in working with clients, so I’m excited to tell you about them here!



Jump to highlights:

  • (01: 26) What is ACT or acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • (02:07) What is this thing psychological flexibility?
  • (03:48) What are the components of psychological flexibility?
  • (08:07) Cognitive diffusion
  • (11:38) The idea that we could believe that our thoughts are not true is mind boggling to a lot of people
  • (16:36) Values and parenting in particular is such a good one to discuss
  • (18:20) Values are something that are deep within you, that you can pull upon, when you’ve got nothing left
  • (19:10:) The idea of the choice point
  • (23:36) Perspective taking is probably one of the most important skills we can do for ourselves
  • (27:01) How do we live out committed action
  • (33:55) Our children are naturally beginner’s mind
  • (35:18:) One of the things that actually sets humans apart  from robots, is our ability to think outside the box
  • (39:58) We can start to teach our children, that it’s not about the answer. That there’s many ways to solve problems
  • (41:51) The IKEA effect
  • (45:33) Another thing that’s really important with embodiment is modeling




About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at www.YourParentingMojo.com/Membership

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at www.YourHomeschoolingMojo.com

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at https://jenlumanlan.teachable.com/p/school

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