The demons on the boat metaphor

This metaphor highlights the importance of accepting and making room for difficult thoughts and emotions while continuing to take meaningful action in our lives.


What does this metaphor show?

The boat represents our journey through life, and the demons symbolise the difficult thoughts, emotions, or experiences that we encounter along the way. These demons can include fear, self-doubt, anxiety, or any other form of psychological distress.

The initial reaction when faced with these demons may be to fight against them, try to eliminate them, or avoid them altogether. However, ACT suggests a different approach. Instead of engaging in a constant struggle with the demons, ACT encourages individuals to acknowledge their presence, accept them as a natural part of the human experience, and make room for them on the boat.

Being able to observe and accept the presence of these difficult experiences without judgement or resistance, while still choosing to take actions that align with one’s values and goals is the way we can develop psychological flexibility.

In the metaphor, the focus is not on getting rid of the demons, but rather on learning to navigate the boat despite their presence. By acknowledging the demons, accepting their existence, and choosing to take actions that move us in the direction of our values, we can learn to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, even in the face of challenging experiences.

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