If you know someone on the autism spectrum, or are on the spectrum yourself, you are probably familiar with the concept of hypersensitivity. No need to.
For example, my friend was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 3 years old. He’s now a high-performance logistics officer for a major shipping company, but once upon a time, he was a grumpy toddler who had a seizure. If his OshKosh B’gosh overalls tags ruffled the waist of his back.
A friend of mine was hypersensitive to clothing labels, so his mom cut them all out of his school and gym clothes. The very texture of most of the garments drove him crazy. He attended a parochial school that used polyester blends for uniforms. By the age of seven, he was the only child at school in a homespun uniform with a white linen shirt tucked into drawstring trousers. School bullies started calling him Lil’ Amish Boy. The name stuck and his friend’s confidence plummeted.
Finally, his mother took him to a therapist for systematic desensitization therapy. Over the course of the treatment, what were once intolerable stimuli—halogen lights, the texture of raisins, the hugs from Dad’s steel wool beard—have become tolerable and even sources of pleasure. was.
Systematic desensitization therapy helped my friend readjust and get interested in these sensations.How did the texture of the steel wool make him feel? His natural reaction What was she telling him? Before long, the wool sweater ceased to be an iron maiden and began to feel like wool, like daddy, like love. Instead of avoiding the phobia and exacerbating the phobia, he was gradually exposed to the sensations that haunted him. Then he learned how to be interested in those feelings. In time, he became tolerant of school uniforms. After months of therapy, he’s looking forward to wearing Polyblend to school.
underlying emotional acceptance
Radical Emotional Acceptance, or REA, is a systematic desensitization therapy for fear of emotions. I have spent the last ten years honing this approach with my patients. Instead of treating our emotions as our enemies, they become our friends. Instead of avoiding them, we feel them enough. we are intrigued. Start exploring. We become less reliant on obsessive thoughts and more trusting of our sixth sense, the mysterious, gut-level instinct that guides us to the light.
The psychological ancestor of REA is fundamental acceptance, a central concept in emotion-focused therapy that has revolutionized my understanding of how emotions work. Psychotherapies that focus on the central emotions that inform The Five Acceptances (ready for the acronym parade) include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Sue Johnson’s Emotions Focused Couples Therapy (EFT), and Otto F. Kernberg’s Transference. Focused psychotherapy (TFP). My thoughts on mental health therapy and his REA intersection also owe a great deal of gratitude to the Internal Family Systems (IFS), an integrative, evidence-based psychotherapy developed by Dr. Richard C. Schwartz. increase.
REA takes these emotion-focused modalities one step further. You can do more than grin, and you can endure discomfort. To truly practice emotional acceptance, we need to embrace all emotions, both positive and distressing. Affirming your joy is just as important as acknowledging your anger. Your emotions, as a whole, give you insight into the desires, preferences, and values that shape your sense of self.
As a busy doctor and soon-to-be father of four, I have never seen a mythical 25-hour day. But by embracing your emotions, you tap into a honeypot of extra energy. You don’t waste unnecessary emotional resources by denying something.When I feel overwhelmed or stressed, as I have done many times while writing please fuck me for real— You can cut off the desire to “do it right.” Respect the underlying thing: a genuine desire to improve people’s lives. Practicing REA makes me feel sharper, more focused, and mobilized in ways I never thought possible.
To find a therapist, visit Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory.