ACT and New Responses

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I deal better with difficult situations?

A:  Create a breathing space.  Respond rather than react.

There is a difference between a reaction and a response.  A reaction is automatic, a response is not.  When something happens, body and mind are pre-programmed to react in certain ways.  If that something is pleasant then we can expect pleasant reactions, if that something is not then look out!

If we constantly act on our initial reactions then that can lead to all sorts of problems.  We don’t like something and we lash out, that’s a problem, we like something and we can’t resist it, that can be a problem too.

ACT and Mindfulness encourage us to create a breathing space where we can decide on a more helpful response.  The more we can do that the more manageable and meaningful our lives will become.  Sometimes it is a good idea to revisit some of our responses too.  Just because they have worked well in the past doesn’t mean they are always the best responses now.  As we grow so can our responses.  This is a cause for celebration.

I wrote “NEW RESPONSES” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you able to differentiate between reactions and responses?
  • Are you ready to revisit some of your habitual responses?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

we-cant-help-our

POEM FOR TODAY

img_9410a

NEW RESPONSES

We can’t help our reaction, that’s an automatic thing,

But when it comes to our responding, we’re not puppets on a string,

For we have choices to consider, and decisions we can make,

We needn’t act on our reactions we can choose the route we’ll take.

It’s a gift we have been given, this reflecting breathing space

Where we can look at what is happening in our inner private place

Before deciding what is helpful and what’s better left behind,

We can do this when we’re observers of our body and our mind.

And it may be old responses are now due an overhaul,

We can keep the ones still working but we needn’t keep them all,

For it maybe we’ve outgrown them, they no longer seem to fit,

Well that’s a cause for celebration, so let’s just get on with it

And work out some new responses, ones more elegant perhaps,

Those just waiting in the wings until the other ones collapse

Before they move in all their glory to the centre of the stage,

Because if we’re due new responses, it’s because we’ve turned a page.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “NEW RESPONSES” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

The benefits of meditation have been well known throughout the ages but it is only relatively recently that it has been made more popularly accessible through practices such as Mindfulness.

Nowadays meditation is no-longer the sole province of Tibetan Monks or practitioners who have spent years in mental and spiritual practice.  Meditation is available to anyone who has the willingness to spend a few moments learning a few basic but very powerful skills.

A good start point can be found at a great website entitled Mindfulness:  Finding Peace in a Frantic World.  Danny Penman, one of the co-authors with Mark Williams, of the book of the same name, describes:

The 3 Minute Breathing Space Meditation

It is free to download and well worth a listen.

If that whets your appetite then try the book.  It was my first introduction to Mindfulness and I return to it often.  It has been a good friend to me.

Product Details

 

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

just-for-today-im-going-to-choose

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Passion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I discover my values?

A:  Explore your passions!

Image result for inspirational quotes

ACT places a lot of store in valuesValues are at the very heart of Acceptance Commitment Therapy and identifying our values and learning to live by them, even in the midst of our problems, is the key, in ACT terms, to living a meaningful life.

Identifying our values can be difficult.  Coming to know what is really important to us should be easy surely, but it often isn’t.  With so many competing claims on our time, on our energy, we can end up living a life that doesn’t feel meaningful, doesn’t feel satisfactory.  If our life feels dull, if we feel dull, then that is a sure-fire way of knowing that we are not living by our own values.  Living by someone else’s values won’t work.  If we want our life to improve then getting in touch with our values is a good next step.  If we are passionate about something it is likely that will give us a clue as to where our values lie.

I wrote “Exploring our Passion” to remind me of that.

 HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How in touch with your values are you?
  • Are you true to your values, or do you betray them sometimes?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

be-happy

POEM FOR TODAY

beach-tai-chi

EXPLORING OUR PASSION

If we have a passion, then best be aware

That it’s not necessarily one others share,

For a passion is personal, give for free,

So what’s moving for you isn’t moving for me.

It’s a fact unattractive, not nice to behold

That a fire in my belly is leaving you cold,

But a passion’s not dependent on what others say,

If we feel it inside that’s sufficient today.

For a passion is something quite hard to define,

But whatever it is it’s not yours, it is mine,

It’s my baby to cherish, my precious to rear,

If the world turns away, it’s for me to hold dear.

So whatever we’re feeling that moves and inspires

Let’s respect for itself, not for who else admires

The outputs of our passion, no need to applaud,

If we love what we do, then we have our reward.

And although ‘twould be good to enjoy the acclaim

Of a world filled with rapture and shouting our name,

If we’ve come to a place where that need is no more,

Then what pleasure’s ahead as our passion we explore.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “EXPLORING OUR PASSION” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

I have been away for a month and for most of that time I have been internet free.  And I say that in the nicest possible way!

Without access to the instant communication that the internet gives us life can feel very different.  It can almost feel like going cold turkey at first, so accustomed, even dependent, have we become on its temptations.  And yet, it was rather nice, refreshing even, to be cut off from the demands of the electronic age, if only for a while.

Apparently Digital Detox Retreats and Unplugged Wellness Retreats are becoming increasingly popular.  If you want to read more about this rather novel, some would say alarming, trend there is an interesting article at Huffington Post entitled “Digital Detox Retreats”.

Although not strictly speaking ACT, I have included it nevertheless.  When we switch off from the outside world and go inside for a while we are practicing mindfulness.  When we practice mindfulness we are practicing ACT.  When we don’t have access to all the instant distractions that our gadgets give us we are increasingly thrown back on our own devices.  I quite liked that, at least for a while!

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

be-happy-2

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Wise Counsel

 ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What should I do in the midst of a turmoil?

A:  Seek wise counsel.

When we are in turmoil it can be hard to know what is best to do.  Our emotions are screaming, “Do this, do that, do something, do anything!”  It is tempting then to do something just to try to reduce the uncomfortable feelings inside.

This is not always the best way.  When we are in a state of upset that is rarely the time to make important decisions, rarely the time to take definitive action.  ACT reminds us that feelings come and go.  They are fleeting, they are temporary, whilst the aftermath of things we do and say because of them can have permanent consequences.

Seeking wise counsel at such times can save us from a lot of heartache.  That doesn’t mean we have to take any advice given.  We are always free to accept or reject what others say.  We, after all, are in the best position to know what is really best for us in our own lives, especially if we are in touch with our values and are learning to act in line with them.

If we are fortunate we will have a trusted friend or two who love us enough to give us wise counsel.  They have our best interests at heart and we should give thanks for them.  And we always have ACT.  When we are in turmoil if we act in accordance to ACT principles we will rarely go wrong and will usually go right.

I wrote “WISE COUNSEL” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Do you remember to seek wise counsel when things get difficult?
  • What wise counsel have you found in ACT to be particularly useful?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

For-when-we-are-in-a

POEM FOR TODAY

68-DSC_6414

WISE COUNSEL

Let’s listen to wise counsel, let’s seek out someone we trust,

Let’s not give in to harsh words and deeds before we have discussed

Other options that are open, let us see what might appear

When we are prepared to listen, for who knows then what we’ll hear.

It’s a difficult dilemma, when to recognise as fact

That sometimes it is inaction that’s the better way to act,

And that sometimes when we’re lost for words that silence is a boon,

And that least said soonest mended is right now more opportune.

Oh the way ahead is tricky, and quite often there will be

Unexpected blocks and obstacles that we just didn’t see

That have festered hidden and toxic, waiting just to do their worst,

It’s no wonder that they floored us when quite suddenly they burst.

But it’s now we must consider what will be the better way

To respond to such an aftermath that’s facing us today,

Is it better to take action, or allow it to subside?

Well it’s now that that wise counsel can help us to best decide.

So let’s choose our counsel carefully for it may shed a light

On an aspect unconsidered, help us make a choice that’s right,

For when we are in a turmoil that’s the time that we most need

The wise counsel that can clarify how best we can proceed.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed  “WISE COUNSEL” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

When we are in turmoil it is usually because we feel that life is not dealing us the hand we want to play.  The gap between what we want and what we have got is wide, wider than at the time we are willing to accept.

At times like these I return, when finally I remember, to that great book written by Russ Harris, “The Reality Slap”.

If you haven’t read it I commend it to you.  If you have, then here’s a reminder that when life deals you a bad-hand a re-read will always be helpful.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-know-I

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Defusion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:   I am going round in circles.  What can I do?

A:   Defuse and let go!

Hanging on is hard, letting go is harder.  Or is it?  When we want something to be a certain way, when we are invested in a certain outcome, there is a lot of tension around.  When we are so focused on forcing solutions there is not much joy to be had.

It is really difficult to know when it is time to try harder or time to surrender.  But the time will come when we do get tired of banging our head against a brick wall.  The time will come when we are ready to accept the what is.  Acceptance need not mean defeat.  Acceptance can mean a lightening of the load.  When we stop trying so hard to hang on, when we are ready to let go, we open ourselves to other options.  I like the idea that letting go means we are giving a thumbs up to the future.

I wrote “FEROCIOUS EDDIES” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you ready to let go of something that is dragging you down?
  • Can you look on letting go as a thumbs up to the future?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

And-when-we-have-got-our

POEM FOR TODAY

final15

FEROCIOUS EDDIES

 

So many things to angst about, so much that we could rue,

Can we make a bit of space and allow content to move through,

Can we see we’re the arena, and perceive our Self as sky,

Can we feel that we are permanent, the rest’s just passing by?

Oh it takes a bit of doing, but what prizes we would reap

If we opted for the shallows ‘stead of diving in the deep

And just let events lap round us, in all their different hues,

And refused to get all churned up, we do this when we defuse.

Oh it sounds like a tall order, stand apart and let them go,

Not be tempted to go swimming and get caught up in the flow

Of events that would diminish us, and tarnish us with shame,

We could take up new positions, be spectators at the game.

And this doesn’t mean we’re opting out, it means we’re opting in,

We’re conserving our best energies for battles we can win,

They’re the ones that seek to stretch us, make us bigger than before,

Not the ones that keep us going round in circles ever more.

And so if we are stuck in eddies which are constant swirling round

Let’s stop swimming ‘gainst the tide and plant our feet on solid ground,

And when we have got our balance we will then more clearly see

That the most ferocious eddies scarce make ripples on the sea.

 

 Corinne Shields, 2016

 

If you enjoyed, “FEROCIOUS EDDIES” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

When I write a blog post I use this section as a spur to look for something in ACT to consolidate what I have been writing about.  It helps me and I hope it helps the reader too.

Today I wanted to find something specific about ACT and Acceptance and I came across a really interesting article at The Mindfulness Muse.

In the article Laura Schenk writes about 5 Ways to Let Go of Judgement and Fear and explains how:

Judgment and fear have a tendency to hold you back from living a rich and meaningful life that is based on your true values and establishing harmony in relationships. There is often a high price to pay for living in a mental and emotional place of judgment and fear. This price may take the form of avoiding relationships with others, challenging mental or physical pursuits, and even discovering your true identity.

Laura suggests 5 Strategies for dealing with the Judgements and Fears that can wreak so much havoc in our lives.  It makes for a really helpful read.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Im-going to cease

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and The Observer Self

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I stop getting so caught up in my imaginings?

A:  Become an observer.

If we think we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies then we couldn’t be more wrong.  All of us are creatives par excellence!  Maybe we don’t have the artistic skills of a Leonardo, or the musical skills of a Mozart, but when it comes to story telling we can compete with the best of them!

You don’t believe me?  Well if you look at the stories you tell yourself, the stories that feed your fears and anxieties, I bet I am not far wrong.  We all have an amazing capacity for story telling, imaginations which seem to know no limits when it comes to conjuring up the direst scenarios, the most incredible storylines.  And the more we do it the better we get!  Our stories become so convincing that we think they must be true.  We forget that we are making it all up!

This is where ACT is so effective.  It reminds us that we are not our stories; it helps us to distinguish between ourselves as creator and the stories we tell.  When we can make that space, what ACT calls defusion, we have more freedom to create a better life.  How?  We can listen to our stories but we don’t have to believe them.  We can look at our storytelling as a rather wondrous skill without allowing it to run our lives.

I wrote “GORY LITTLE STORIES” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you able to stand back from your “gory little stories”?
  • How do you make that space?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

For-were-not-simply-a

 

POEM FOR TODAY

KFsL07

GORY LITTLE STORIES

It’s back again to bother us with regularity,

As our Mind starts spinning stories based on something that we see

That has sparked a speculation, and we can’t know if it’s true,

But that won’t stop Mind from doing what a Mind is born to do.

Oh it loves a bit of friction and a mystery to resolve,

It can conjure up a problem just so it can problem solve,

It’s a wonder, it’s a marvel, we can look at it with awe,

But if we’re caught in its eddies then a sleepless night’s in store.

For a thinking Mind is tricky and its processes too slick

To control a thought gone crazy, even now we feel the kick

Of a story-line gone haywire, could things really go that far?

Time to harness our awareness and remember who we are.

For we’re not simply a thinking Mind, a mental acrobat,

We are more than story tellers, there is more to us than that,

We’ve a core that is more constant, an awareness always there,

And the more we call upon it then the more we are aware.

And that’s an antidote to stories that would stretch us on the rack,

In the midst of mental torture, it’s awareness brings us back

To remind us that though thinking mind gives cause to celebrate,

All its gory little stories are just words we fabricate.

 © Corinne Shields, 2016

 If you enjoyed, “GORY LITTLE STORIES” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

I have just been listening to an ACT Observer Exercise conducted by Randy Burgess at portlandpsychotherapyclinic

I found it really useful and I will return to it often, especially if I am getting bogged down in unhelpful thoughts or swamped by difficult emotions.

The ability to strengthen our sense of the Observer Self, the Self as Context, Pure Awareness, whatever you want to call it, is so important.  Being able to make a distinction between our Self as Context, the arena in which things happen, and our Self as Content, the internal and external events that happen to us, helps us to respond more effectively to the content of our lives.

If you are looking for something to strengthen that sense of the Observer Self then do head over to Portland.  You will not be disappointed.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Ill-be gory stories

 

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

ACT and Self as Context

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I cope with turbulent events?

A:  See them from the viewpoint of Self as Context

awareness

The concept of “Self as Context” can be difficult to understand.  We are so used to thinking of ourselves as just who we think we are, a composite of complicated thoughts and feelings, that trying to get a handle of ourselves as something bigger, something more, is really challenging.

And yet we are something more.  There is more to us than our thoughts and our feelings.  Thoughts and feelings come and go but we are still here.  We were here at the beginning and we will be there at the end.  There is a part of us that is nothing to do with the thinking mind, there is a part of us that is pure awareness. The more time we spend with that part of us the more expanded we become, and not in the physical sense!

How do we do that?  Well we do have a key.  The key that opens the door to Self as Context is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is integral to ACT and ACT is integral to Mindfulness. The more we develop our Mindfulness Skills the more adept we will become in the developing the psychological flexibility that lies at the heart of ACT.  The two go together.

I wrote “SELF AS CONTEXT” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you making Mindfulness a part of your life?
  • Are you able to get a sense of yourself as “Self as Context“?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

self as context

POEM FOR TODAY

file000292992617

SELF AS CONTEXT

 

At times of great upheaval when we’re feeling turned and tossed

It is hard to be accepting of a something that we’ve lost,

And when the world outside our window seems a strange and foreign place

Then these times of great upheaval can be difficult to face.

It may be at such a moment we should strive to solace find,

Maybe focus on the breath to give some respite to the mind,

And begin to stretch awareness, bring our senses into play,

We are more than just our thoughts so let’s explore that more today.

Let us see our Self as Context, like the ocean, like the sky,

View these turbulent events as waves and clouds just passing by,

Whilst we’ll still be here tomorrow, as we were just yesterday,

Such a focus isn’t easy but it can be ours today

If we see our Self as constant, the I am who will remain

When the storm has done its worst and we’ve survived the hurricane,

For though events may come to shake us they are only temporary,

And if we see our Self as Context, they’re just waves whilst we’re the sea.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “SELF AS CONTEXT” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

For a very clear overview of ACT and Mindfulness you might like to head over to getselfhelp.co.uk.

There is a very good section on Mindfulness of Emotions which I found particularly helpful.  It reminds us that:

“We often start to learn mindfulness skills by focusing our attention on our breath, our bodies, the environment or activities.  We can practice being mindful, and eventually, we can learn to start being mindful of emotions.

Being mindful of emotions helps us to stand back from the emotion, understand it, accept it, not to fear it or struggle against it, and it can have the added benefit of reducing the distress (although the aim is to learn to accept the experience, rather than lessen the distress.”

What follows is a suggestion for how to explore emotions mindfully.

Turbulent events trigger turbulent emotions.  Learning to deal with them more skilfully can only be a good thing.  Mindfulness offers us that alternative.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

thinking mind

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and Values Revisited Again!

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q: Where do I look for guidance when I don’t know where to turn?

A: Revisit your values

values revisited

Sometimes things happen which are so unexpected that we literally don’t know which way to turn. We are caught so much off guard that for a while it actually feels as if the ground under our feet has shifted; we are completely at sea.

So many mixed metaphors are not usually very helpful, but in this sort of instance they sort of sum up the general state of confusion and bewilderment we feel when the unexpected comes up to bite us.

When we are in this situation it is difficult to know where to look for guidance. We may cast around looking here and there for answers, quite forgetting that what we seek is far closer to home. When we don’t know where to turn a good rule of thumb is to revisit our values. When our world is in turmoil they remain constant. They won’t let us down.

I wrote “VALUES RIVISITED” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do your values help you to find your bearings?
  • What do you do when the world seems upside down?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

And-if-were-scrambling

POEM FOR TODAY

IMG_0139

VALUES REVISITED

Disappointment and denial, disillusion and despair,

What has happened is alarming but not going anywhere,

And if it’s still there in the morning after sleep gives us respite,

Then it doesn’t really matter if we deem it wrong or right.

It may be we still are reeling, not yet ready to accept

What it is we were escaping in those moments when we slept,

But a sleep can’t last forever, in the end we have to wake

And decide on our responses, on the next steps that we’ll take.

And it may be it’s too soon to plan a detailed strategy,

It may be our eyes are blinkered and for now we cannot see

Any further than the next step and the one that follows that,

Well let’s treat ourselves with kindness if that is the stage we’re at.

Because for now there is a future unpredictable and yes

We could spend it agonising, but we cannot second guess

What will happen in tomorrow, and we couldn’t any-way,

If we needed any proof of that we’ve got it in today.

And so in face of what’s arising let us take another tack,

Let us focus on feet forward without ever looking back,

And if we’re scrambling for a foothold and unsure which way to go

Then let us turn again to values, for as ever they will know.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “VALUES REVISITED” please pass it on, and do leave your comments.  I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT …..

Having clarity about our values is really important.  When we know what really matters to us, when we know what sort of person we want to be in the world, it is easier for us to behave in ways that make us feel good, make us feel authentic.

Rachel Collis has written a really good article entitled “Getting Clear About Values” in her blog Working with ACT.  I really enjoyed it, so if you want some help in clarifying your values head on over and give it a read.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

 

Just-for-today-I-will decide to dodge

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you?

I am a student of ACT.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne