‘Stuff that Sucks. Accepting what you can’t change and committing to what you can’ by Ben Sedley is a book is aimed at young people to try and help them understand feelings and emotions. I wish it had been published 15 years ago when I was a teenager as it really helps you get to grips with your mental health. With words like ‘stuff’, being told to imagine your life was a reality show and some quirky cartoons it’s definitely aimed at adolescents but I think that this book has some wise words and good practices for us all.
The author of Stuff That Sucks: Accepting what you can’t change and committing to what you can, Ben Sedley is a clinical psychologist who uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy when treating mental health problems. This was a new type of therapy to me. It seems to be similar to mindfulness and encourages you to practice acceptance and empowers you to commit to your chosen action. The book includes exercises to help you to find your values and to ground yourself. It encourages you to practice mindfulness and to focus on your senses – what you can see, smell, feel, taste and hear. Smedley writes that ‘Connecting to your senses can help you feel more grounded and possibly even stronger or more ready to deal with stuff around you.’
Stuff That Sucks: Accepting what you can’t change and committing to what you can presents some really accurate descriptions of pain – sadness, worry, anger and shame. It was really interesting to hear about anger being a mask for sadness or worry (something I can definitely relate to) and ultimately leads to shame. Like the film Inside Out this book teaches that sadness has an important role in our lives.
The main thing that I have learnt from this book is that all of these emotions are valid and should be accepted. It is by fighting them that they become worse and powerful. The books tells us that ‘the system’ and by that it means everyone – television, family and friends – tell us to feel the opposite of what we’re actually feeling. By saying ‘Don’t worry’, ‘Smile’ and ‘Cheer Up’ although they mean well people are encouraging us to bury our feelings rather than accepting them and letting them pass.
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