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

ACT and New Eras

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What can I do when things change?

A:  Accept and explore it!

Image result for inspirational picture quotes

It’s so hard accepting what we cannot change, especially if we don’t like it!  If we don’t like something, the natural human reaction is, understandably, to try to alter it in some way.  Sometimes that is possible, and if it is, then of course we should use our best efforts to bring about a desired result.  But if it isn’t ……

If it isn’t possible to change something then sometimes the only thing to do is to let it go.  That is painful, of course it is.  But being willing to accept the pain just as it is can be less painful in the long run than futile denial and struggle.

I wrote “THE WORLD WE’VE GOT” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Have you found any solace in accepting what you cannot change?
  • How have you coped with the inevitable pain that accompanies loss?
  • 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-this-horse-has-truly

POEM FOR TODAY

Spellbound

THE WORLD WE’VE GOT

So now it’s really over and deep in our hearts we know

There will be no second chances, it is time to let it go,

For this horse has truly bolted, it’s too late to rein it in,

And for all our lamentations a new era will begin.

It will happen irrespective of our wanting it or not,

For new eras are quite callous and they will not care a jot

If we cling to our resistance, they’re too busy making hay,

Carving out a new tomorrow whilst we’re stuck in yesterday.

And so although it may be tempting to deny reality,

Waste our breath on wishful thinking, dissipate our energy

In a struggle that’s as futile as Canute found to his cost

When he tried to hold the tide back and inevitably lost.

And so whatever’s now occurring, even though it causes pain,

Let’s remember that surrender doesn’t mean we have to feign

Approbation for a circumstance we neither wished nor sought,

But if there’s a new reality we cannot then it thwart.

And so the more skilful reaction is to energy conserve,

Give a swerve to the unchangeable and effort now preserve

For the things that make life meaningful, for like it now or not,

This may not have been the world we sought but it’s the world we’ve got.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed “THE WORLD WE’VE GOT” 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 trouble, when we are really hurting, what we need above all is a kindly word, some compassion, a feeling that someone understands what we are going through.

If we are lucky we will have someone on hand to offer that hand of friendship.  But sometimes more is required.  Sometimes we will need to offer that hand of friendship to ourselves.

Reaching out to others is one of the unforeseen positives that can come out of a personal hurt.  It is often when we are at our lowest ebb that we become willing to open up and share some of our hurt with others.  Wonderful things can happen when we do this.

But let us not forget to be kind to ourselves too.  Let us be willing to accept ourselves just as we are, warts and all, hurts and all.  ACT is very clear on this.  Reaching out to ourselves in an act of self compassion can be the best thing that we do for ourselves today.

I wrote a post about ACT and Self Compassion a while ago.  Today I needed to remind myself once again about the benefits that accrue when we remember to be kind to ourselves.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-wont allow myself to shirk

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 Crises

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What do I do in the midst of a crisis?

A:  Keep calm and carry on!

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Sometimes life comes up to shock us!  It may be personal, it may be political, or the personal may have become political and vice versa.

We may not have seen it coming or maybe we did, and it shocked us anyway!

Whatever and however it happened, if we are in the midst of something that feels like a crisis it is likely we are not feeling very comfortable.  Fears of the unknown are natural, resistance to something we view as unwelcome is understandable, we are in shock!

At times like these ACT reminds us to be kind to ourselves, to treat ourselves with patience and compassion.  The shock will pass, if we let it; the uncomfortable feelings will move through, if we give them time and space; if the world, our world has re-arranged, we will catch up with it, in time.

Allowing ourselves to accept and experience all of our feelings just as they are without struggle may seem counter-intuitive.  Human beings are, after all, pre-programmed to move away from what they don’t like and towards what they do, but ACT is clear on this.  Accepting what we cannot change, uncomfortable feelings in this case, and changing what we can, maybe taking a valued action, will serve us better than wasting precious energy on futile struggle.

I wrote “A COMPLETE HUMAN BEING” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How have you dealt effectively with a crisis?
  • How has ACT helped you to keep calm and carry on?
  • 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

POEM FOR TODAY

edinburgh_sunset_2

A COMPLETE HUMAN BEING

Sometimes a something happens and its impact is so great

That we can’t internalise it, nor expect it to abate,

For the moment we’re all rawness and all we can do is hurt,

There’s no place that we can hide in, we cannot this pain avert.

So if we cannot escape it then what are we meant to do?

It could be we’d best accept it and allow it to move through,

For although it’s only natural to wish we could repair

This event that’s come to floor us, it’s not going anywhere.

For this something is a fact now, it’s unchangeable, and so

All the wishing in the world is not enough to make it go,

For we’re in a new reality, and though we it resist

When we wake up in the morning this new thing will still exist.

And so for now all that is possible may be that we endure

And accept the pain we’re feeling, for right now ‘tis premature

To expect to circumvent it or reduce it in some way,

For if we have loved what now is lost that is the price we pay.

And this journey we are facing is not one we want to take,

But if we are in a state of loss ‘tis one we’ll have to make,

And if we would find some value in the face of what we’re seeing,

It will be in being prepared to be a complete human being.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “A COMPLETE HUMAN BEING” 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 …..

Bearing in mind the human predisposition to move away from difficult and distressing things and towards attractive and appealing things, we do well to remember that although this often makes sense in the external world it often works less well in the internal world of our thoughts and feelings.

In ACT terms this means that avoidance of, or struggle with difficult thoughts and feelings is not the most effective way of behaving.  ACT teaches us other, more effective ways and amongst them is Mindfulness.

I came across a really interesting article written by Melissa O’Brien at everyday-mindfulness.org entitled:

“How to Use Mindfulness to Work with Difficult Emotions: A Six Step Process”

Melissa shows us how we can “learn to turn our difficult emotions into our greatest teachers and sources of strength”.

Her Six Step Process for mindfully dealing with difficult emotions is well worth a read.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

 

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