ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource
Q: Why do I worry so much?
A: Because you are a Child of the Savannah
Most of us don’t like worry and anxiety. Worry is unpleasant, anxiety is uncomfortable. We view these feelings as negative and we would rather not have them. Being human, our tendency is to do all we can to avoid discomfort, to get rid of things that hurt us, and so we try our best to eliminate them.
In the external world that makes sense and our efforts are usually rewarded. We learn to avoid things that would harm us, we learn to get rid of things that are detrimental to us.
In the internal world of our feelings, however, avoidance doesn’t work so well, and trying to get rid of difficult feelings is usually a lost cause.
ACT has a lot to say about the internal world of our feelings and how best to manage them. In ACT terms the emphasis is on being open to our feelings, learning to explore and accept them, and going about our business irrespective of how we feel.
That might seem like a tall order but when we begin to understand where some of our uncomfortable feelings come from, the origins of our discomfort, it all begins to make a bit more sense.
Worry and anxiety, in fact, have been in ancient times our very best friends. In evolutionary terms they have been the key to our very survival. Although we may think we are children of the 21st century, sophisticated and clever beyond belief, masters of the planet and adventurers amongst the stars, in feeling terms we are still children of the savannah. When we feel threatened the old survival instincts kick in, we worry about the future and we ruminate about the past. We tend to be concerned about how we come across to others and what they think of us. We have our ancestors to thank for these qualities. On the savannah puny man would not have lasted long on his own. We needed to belong to a tribe for survival. Being kicked out was not an option!
Understanding a bit more about the origins of our uncomfortable feelings may help us to deal with them a bit more kindly. When worry and anxiety show up, as they surely will, a more friendly approach would serve us better. Instead of struggling with them we could accept them, instead of battling to see them gone we could simply let them be, instead of making them feel unwelcome we could thank them for trying to keep us safe.
We do not have to use our energy in fighting feelings. We can use our energy to take an action to make our lives more meaningful. That’s what our ancestors did and when we remember that we are Children of the Savannah it will be easier for us to do that too!
HOW ABOUT YOU?
- Are you willing to accept those uncomfortable feelings as normal and natural and stop fighting them?
- Are you ready to begin to act even when you don’t feel like it?
- How do you deal with your own worry and anxiety?
- What can you share that might be of help to others?
Please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.
POEM FOR TODAY
A CHILD OF THE SAVANNAH
If we know where we’ve come from we’ve a very useful skill,
For ‘twill fill us full of knowledge of those thoughts that do us fill,
Thoughts of worry and foreboding, oh you know the kind of thing,
We’re on constant red alert for all the trouble life can bring.
Oh ‘twas good on the savanna to maintain a watchful eye,
Being careless was no option, being careless meant you’d die,
For back then the threats were deadly, as our ancestors well knew,
So the cautious were the heroes, they survived to fight anew.
And today we’re little different though the landscape may have changed,
In our minds we’re still the primitive and have not yet exchanged
The savanna for the new world that we now are living in,
But the thoughts that drive us crazy are the thoughts that helped us win.
And so next time we are worried and anxiety’s running wild
Let’s remember they’re the very thoughts that saved that ancient child
And let’s look at them in wonderment and let our struggles fall
Because the thoughts we think insufferable are not like that at all.
© Corinne Shields, 2015
If you enjoyed “A CHILD OF THE SAVANNAH” 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 ….
If you want to find out more about ACT and Worrisome Thoughts, Oliver, Hill and Morris’ book
is a good read. It certainly got me thinking, it fact it inspired the poem you have just read, “A Child of the Savannah.”
They talk about our minds being “pre-loaded with an old computer operating system designed for a bygone era. While it was once right up to date, these days it has its limitations. It’s a little slow and clunky and doesn’t always work smoothly. However, knowing this allows us to build in a few handy improvements (more of this later).”
I can’t wait to read on! I want to find out what these handy improvements are!
Which leads us to the
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.