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Why Suffer Unnecessarily?


In Mindfulness-and Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies in Practice, research psychologists Lizabeth Roemer and Susan Orsillo

Dr. Sue Orsillo

Dr. Liz Roemer

teach that unnecessary suffering results from three related mechanisms:

1. An unhealthy relationship to our inner subjective experiences, consisting of one or more of the following:

a. Cognitive fusion—an overidentification with our thoughts, emotions, images, and sensations

b. Judgment—criticism of self and others

c. Lack of awareness of thoughts, emotions, images, and sensations

2. Experiential avoidance: evading unpleasant thoughts, emotions, images, and sensations. Our efforts to escape these can take cognitive, emotional, and behavioral forms.

3. Behavioral constriction or restriction. This occurs when, in our quest to avoid or escape distressing thoughts, emotions, images, and sensations, we choose not to engage in actions we value; we fail to pursue what matters most to us, such as a creative endeavor or intimacy with others. By constricting or restricting our behavior in such a way, we perpetuate the very suffering we want to avoid.

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