ACT and Taking Action

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: How do I know if I am making progress?

A: If you are carrying on regardless!

Carrying on regardless!  What a challenge!  In the face of life’s traumas, in the face of life’s difficulties, in the face of disapproval and criticism and rejection and, and, and ….

The list goes on, and that’s even before we get started on the way that we sabotage ourselves, our own negativity, our own defeatism ….

And yet, if we could just carry on regardless what a wonderful thing it would be.  Not to get shunted off course by everything that happens, to be masters of our own ship, captains of our own fate. Sounds good doesn’t it?

In fact, this is what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is all about. Giving us the skills to respond more flexibly to what happens to us both externally and internally.  Giving us more choices, teaching us how to opt for behaviours that will move us in meaningful directions, encouraging us to observe our thoughts rather than become slaves to them.  In short, helping us to carry on regardless irrespective of what the world throws at us, irrespective of what our own Mind is telling us.

I wrote the poem “CARRY ON REGARDLESS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at carrying on regardless?
  • How do you cope when life throws up its challenges?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others.

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

TIP FOR TODAY

POEM FOR TODAY

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CARRY ON REGARDLESS

 

If we want to make progress then we’re going to have to try,

Make a move in a direction to discover by and by

What waits for us in the future, and if change we want to see

Then a dream is insufficient, change will need activity.

We will have to leave the shadows, step out brave into the light,

And not scurry back defeated the first time we have a fright,

We will have to bear discomfort, face up to it fair and square

And if Mind starts making trouble, then that trouble we must bear

And just carry on regardless, there’s a mantra we can say,

“In the face of negativity I will not slink away!”

For the prize is not the future, it is every time we choose

To move forward to our passion for then no way can we lose.

And so let’s say a prayer for progress, and let’s say it now out loud

So we remember when Mind’s whining, that though whining is allowed

We won’t be paying it much attention, for they’re just words after all,

And in comparison to a passion words are really pretty small.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed “CARRRY ON REGARDLESS” 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 ……….

ACT stands for Acceptance Commitment Therapy.  It challenges us to accept our thoughts and feelings and still commit to change.

So instead of saying,

“I want to change, BUT I am too anxious”,

we learn to say,

“I want to change, AND I am anxious about it.”

This subtle verbal and cognitive shift is the essence of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

It is actually very liberating.  Why?  Because it suggests that we can take action without first changing or eliminating feelings.  Rather than fighting the feeling attached to a behaviour, we can learn to accept it and observe ourselves having the feeling, but still take action.

One of the first self-help books I read many moons ago was Susan Jeffers “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”.

I haven’t read the book for years and I certainly can’t guarantee that its contents are authentic Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), but the title certainly is!  “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” is a great way of describing ACT!

Which brings us to the 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and Uncomfortable Feelings

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  What can I do with uncomfortable feelings?

A:  Accept them!

None of us like uncomfortable feelings.  Why would we?  They make us feel uncomfortable and nobody likes that!  Unfortunately, being human it goes with the territory.  We are going to have uncomfortable feelings, a lot of them and a lot of the time!!  How we deal with them?  That’s the thing.

The natural reaction, the human reaction, is to try to either get rid of them, avoid them or distract ourselves from them.  That might work in the short term, but it doesn’t work in the long term and there is plenty of research to show that all of these techniques tend to make uncomfortable feelings come back more often and with more vengeance.  So what to do?

Well in ACT, the approach is rather different.  ACT suggests that a more effective way to deal with uncomfortable feelings is to cease the struggle, to open up to them and to let them be.  Like thoughts, feelings will move through us if we let them.  If we can create a space and see our feelings as something separate from ourselves, something that we are experiencing on a temporary basis and not something that defines us, we will not be so much in their thrall.

In the first instance this means becoming willing to accept the feeling, as it is without struggling to get rid of it, avoid it or distract ourselves from it.

One of the most famous sayings in ACT is, “If you’re not willing to have it, you will”.

When I first heard this I found it very confusing, and I still can at times.  There is, however, a good metaphor, ACT is very keen on metaphors, to throw light on it.  More of that later!

But for now back to becoming willing.

I wrote the poem “BECOMING WILLING” to remind me that there is an alternative way to deal with uncomfortable feelings.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you deal with uncomfortable feelings?
  • Are you willing to open up to uncomfortable feelings and explore them?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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

TIP FOR TODAY

POEM FOR TODAY

IMG_20150322_092137 

BECOMING WILLING

Let’s stop fighting with our feelings, let us simply let them be,

We don’t have to try to change them, rail against them constantly,

We can just relax into them, find out where our feelings sit,

And if we will breathe into them they may soften just a bit.

It may be our stomach’s churning or perhaps it feels like lead,

Or maybe the feeling’s shifted and it’s pounding in our head,

Or perhaps our heart is aching or our back feels broke in two,

That’s our cue to start to struggle, but we could try something new.

For we could just become willing to accept whatever’s here

For whatever’s here’s here anyway and it won’t disappear

Just because we do not want it, we can’t make a feeling move,

Feelings will not do our bidding just because we disapprove.

And so what willingness affords us is the chance to halve the pain,

For a struggle is redundant if we from it now abstain

Which leaves whatever we are feeling as a something to explore,

Instead of starting up a struggle which will aggravate it more.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “BECOMING WILLING” 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 ……….

Now back to that metaphor I promised you.

In their excellent book

Steven Hayes and Spencer Smith introduce the Willingness Scale.

In brief what we are asked to imagine are two radio dials, one easily seen, the other less visible and harder to see.  The easily seen dial is called Discomfort and it includes problems like uncomfortable thoughts, sensations or emotions, and has a dial range from 0 to 10.  This dial, although it looks like we can control it, has a mind of its own and sets itself where it likes rather than where we would prefer!

The second dial, the one at the back and less visible we’ll call Willingness and also has a range from 0 to 10.  This one we do have control over.  The more willing we are to be open to our experience as it is, directly without trying to manipulate it, avoid it, escape it or change it, the higher the dial is set.

In ACT terms the higher the Willingness dial is set the better!

As Hayes points out, “Finding that your Discomfort dial reads a high value and then setting your Willingness dial to a low value is a terrible combination.”

Learning how to reset these dials won’t necessarily make the initial discomfort go away, but it will stop us intensifying the original uncomfortable feelings and causing ourselves more suffering.

If you want to find out more about the dials and how you can make them work for you, READ THE BOOK!!

Which brings us to the 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and Self Compassion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: Is Self Compassion more important than Self Esteem?

A: It would seem so!

Sometimes it happens, doesn’t it?  Someone says just the right thing at the right time, or you turn on the TV and there’s something showing that just resonates with you, or you go surfing the internet and there it is, an article just waiting to be read by you at exactly the right time you needed to read it!!  Spooky isn’t it?  Or fate, or karma or serendipity or whatever you want to call it!

Well it just happened to me!  I was just surfing around and I came across this great article in the Huffington Post written by Steven C Hayes, entitled “Is Self Compassion more important than Self Esteem?”. And it had me hooked, because it seems it is!

After years of trying to improve Mental Health by trying to improve Self Esteem, it seems that, to quote Hayes,

“What if the Self Esteem discussion is like the proverbial finger-pointing at the moon?”

“It seems that new research is suggesting this may be the case, and that a new concept – self compassion – could be vastly more important than self esteem when it comes to long-term mental health and success.”

I like the sound of that!  And do you know, I have an inkling he is right.  Why?

Well it happens so often doesn’t it?  Something goes wrong, something happens to hurt us, to upset us and what do we do?  We shout at ourselves, we tell ourselves that we are fools, idiots.  At the very time when we need to be kind to ourselves we are kicking ourselves, at the very time when we need to show ourselves some compassion we are harsh and cruel.  We don’t need enemies, we are our own worst enemy.

And so, ACT reminds us at such tricky times to be careful, to be aware.  Language is very powerful.  Because we are human beings we are verbal beings and we can use language to hurt ourselves or to help ourselves.  When we are hurting inside it is all too easy to turn on ourselves, to berate ourselves, to make things much worse.

Learning to accept ourselves, to be kind to ourselves is so much more effective. And we can start by replacing those harsh and cruel words with words of loving kindness.

I wrote “WORDS OF LOVING KINDNESS” to remind me of this!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at being good to yourself?
  • Are the words that you say to yourself words that you would like to hear?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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

TIP FOR TODAY

 

POEM FOR TODAY

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WORDS OF LOVING KINDNESS

Inside of us we’re children still, e’en though it’s buried deep,

For despite all our achievements early memories we keep

Of the times when we were vulnerable, uncertain and afraid,

So remember we are children still despite the strides we’ve made.

And sometimes a something happens that will trigger childish fears,

Our grown-up mask is slipping as the little child appears

And it’s time now to be gentle, and some soothing words to find,

Put our grown-ups to good use and to a little child be kind.

And so let’s not act all impatient or be critical or cruel

Turn a talk between a grown-up and a child into a duel,

But remember little children don’t take kindly to abuse,

It’s the words of loving kindness that will be of better use.

And so next time a something happens and we feel the child within

Is beginning to act childlike let’s set out their trust to win,

Not by urging them to actions that they can’t for now fulfil,

But by saying we’ll be there for them and that we always will.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “WORDS OF LOVING KINDESS” please pass it on, and do please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

Well the final word belongs to that fantastic article that I read first thing this morning and which inspired this post.

Is Self-Compassion More Important Than Self Esteem?

If you are in any doubt then I urge you to read the article.  Sometimes Self Compassion has had a bad press.  It can smack of selfishness, egocentricity, narcissism and all those other things which many of us have been taught are not “the right thing”, a sign of weakness.  And yet, a lack of self compassion may well be at the root of our problems.

In the article Hayes quotes Dr Kirstin Neff, one of the premier researchers in this area, by defining Self Compassion as, “consisting of three components during times of personal suffering and failure:

  1.  Treating oneself kindly
  2.  Recognising one’s struggles as part of the shared human experience
  3.  Holding one’s painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness.

Given this context, the negativity or positivity of your thoughts isn’t what’s important.  It’s how you respond to those thoughts that matters.”

For an in-depth analysis of the subject I really do encourage you to read the article, but for me the final paragraph summed it up and I quote it here:

“It’s time for us to put down the idea that we have to think well of ourselves at all times to be mature, successful, functional, mentally healthy individuals. Indeed, this toxic idea can foster a kind of narcissistic ego-based self-story that is bound to blow up on us. Instead of increasing self-esteem content what we need to do is increase self-compassion as the context of all we do. That deflates ego-based self-stories, as we humbly accept our place as one amongst our fellow human beings, mindfully acknowledging that we all have self-doubt, we all suffer, we all fail from time to time, but none of that means we can’t live a life of meaning, purpose, and compassion for ourselves and others.” – Steven Hayes, PHD

Which brings us to the 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and The Present Moment

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  When will I finally get where I want to go?

A:  You are already here!

Dalai Lama Quote

The Dalai Lama said it well, didn’t he?  Well he would, wouldn’t he?

“Man lives as if  he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Why?

Because we forget that the present moment is the only place where we can actually do our living.

ACT is very clear about this.  Life is always lived in the present moment.  We can’t go back and change the past, we can’t go forward and control the future.  Yes, reflecting on the past and planning for the future are valuable activities and helpful, most of the time, but we are in trouble when we fuse with the past or future and lose contact with the present.

So, if we spend our lives worrying about the future or living in the past as if they are really here, we have turned our back on the present moment.  If we spend our time planning and projecting a wonderful tomorrow or looking back with regret at better times now gone, we have turned our back on the present moment.  This is not good news!  Each time we do this our opportunity to live well in the present is lost; and many of us do this a lot!

Sometimes too, we can become so dazzled by the idea of better times ahead that we don’t bother much with the present moment.  It doesn’t seem to measure up so we disregard it.  We are so focused on the destination that we forget to pay attention to the journey, and we miss out big-time.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to see that there is no destination, because wherever we are is the destination.  If we could adopt that mind-set then there would be no more waiting for better times because they would already be here, and we would act accordingly.

So, in ACT terms that doesn’t mean that we need to stop thinking about the future or the past but what it does mean is that we should try to become more flexible.   Choose to be in the present when that is needed, to be in the future when planning is required, or to be in the past when that works best.

Simple???  Not at all.  But worth the effort.

I wrote “THE DESTINATION DAZZLE” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at staying in the present moment?
  • How do you cope with thoughts that drag you back to the past or try to lure you into the future?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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

TIP FOR TODAY

POEM FOR TODAY

couple on the beach

THE DESTINATION DAZZLE

Let’s not be dazzled by destination when the journey will suffice,

Nor trade in a passing pleasure, for it won’t come our way twice,

For when we are over focused on whatever lies afar,

We are blind to all the treasures that are scattered where we are.

Oh it’s easy to be hijacked by a future seemingly

That much shinier and finer than where we are presently,

But it’s only an illusion, just a dream that we have spun,

It’s the present we must look to for our moments in the sun.

And the destination dazzle does have power to eclipse

All those lovely little moments as it plays its brinkmanships

Saying, “This is insufficient, better times lie just ahead,”

But if we don’t call its bluff ‘twill say it still on our death-bed!

And so let’s put it in perspective, let’s allow ourselves to dream

But futures come with a health warning, they are rarely what they seem,

Whereas the present has the power to transform lives instantly

When we see our destination’s everywhere we happen to be.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

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

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

D J Moran, PHD, has posted an excellent video entitled  “Demystifying ACT – The Present Moment.

I found it really interesting and I am sure that you will too.  He talks about how research shows that most of us spend approximately 47% of our waking hours anywhere other than in the present moment.  We are, to quote Moran, “there and then, as opposed to here and now.”  And, of course when we are “there and then” we are missing out on the opportunity to do something meaningful “here and now!”

Which brings us to the 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and Making Progress

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: I’ve got so far to go.  How can I possibly reach my  destination?

A: Taking one step at a time.

ACT is quite clear.  The route to a meaningful life lies in discovering our purpose and then carrying it out.  In other words, a meaningful life, one that feels rich and vibrant, requires that we discover our values and then do things that reflect them.

This is more difficult than it sounds.  Sometimes discovering our purpose can feel like one big head-ache.  Life was much easier pre-purpose.  Of course it was. Life was easier when we lived on automatic pilot, life was much easier when we stayed within our comfort zone and life was much, much easier when we just did the same old, same old.

Easier yes, but also stagnant and stifling.  Easier yes, but also generating a feeling of discontent, a feeling of something being missing.

If we are still asking ourselves the question, “What’s it all about?” it’s likely we have yet to discover our purpose!!

Assuming we have discovered our purpose the question then is are we willing to pursue it?  Are we willing to put in the effort required?  Are we willing to take one step forward and two steps back?  Are we willing to accept that there will be times, perhaps many times, when we will feel uncomfortable, frustrated and unsure?  Are we willing to accept the discomfort and carry on anyway?

If the answer is yes, then happily we don’t have to do it all at once.  Happily we can take just one step at a time in a meaningful direction. I think I can manage that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you willing to accept the discomfort that comes with pursuing your purpose?
  • Are you willing to accept that the way will be strewn with obstacles and difficulties and carry on regardless?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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

TIP FOR TODAY

POEM FOR TODAY

image

ONE STEP AT A TIME

It all seems so confusing, ‘twould be easier to stop,

There’s a mountain that needs climbing and the prize sits at the top,

And we’re stumbling in the foothills, have we even come that far?

Monkey mind’s already saying, “It’s too far this Shangri-La!”

And it’s tempting to believe it for the effort that’s required

Leaves us feeling more exhausted than it makes us feel inspired,

But in all of this confusion, let’s not be in any doubt,

The retreat we are considering is not our best way out.

For already we’ve moved forward and a new place we have reached,

It may not have been a pretty sight but boundaries we’ve breached

And we know a bit too much now, and what’s known can’t be unknown,

It is part of who we are now and ourselves we can’t disown.

And so it’s better we continue in a forward sort of way,

Making just a little progress, and then bit by bit each day

We’ll emerge from those old foothills and the mountain start to climb,

And one day we’ll reach the summit taking one step at a time.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “ONE STEP AT A TIME” please pass it on, and do please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

I first heard about this wonderful book in my ACT group and it is a story that has stayed with me ever since.

Product Details

Touching the Void tells the amazing story of Joe Simpson’s terrifying adventure in the Peruvian Andes.  Joe and his climbing partner, Simon, reached the summit of the remote Siula Grande in June 1995.  A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frost-bitten, with news that Joe was dead.

What happened to Joe, and how the pair dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes for compelling reading.

However, from an ACT perspective, what this story also illustrates is how taking one step, in this case one excruciatingly painful crawl and a hop, at a time can lead to tremendous progress.  In Joe’s case his actual survival depended upon his taking that next terrible step.  With broken limbs and a dehydrated body, Joe Simpson is forced to make his way down a treacherous mountain, to his base camp.  In the story Simpson talks of a tiny voice in his mind, pushing him onward when everyone else had seemingly left him for dead.

God forbid we are ever faced with the challenges that Joe had to meet, but in our every day lives we all of us have that “Joe moment” when we have to decide whether or not to take that next step!   What Joe describes is the very definition of digging deep and is inspirational for all of us.

Which brings us to the 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and the Value Driven Life

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: My life has lost its sparkle. How can I get it back?

A: Return to your values.

 

If we’re honest it’s not so much our life that loses its sparkle as we stop doing the things that bring that sparkle into our life. Yes??

Life doesn’t just sparkle of its own accord.  We have to do the stuff that makes it sparkle.  And that stuff isn’t always that obvious.

It might, for instance, seem obvious that a sparkling life would be full of life’s goodies.  Therefore anyone who has plenty of money to buy those goodies would necessarily have a sparkling life.  Yes??  Well no, we know that’s not always true. A quick look around the people we know and those that we don’t, celebrities and otherwise, is enough to show us that money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness. Well we know that really don’t we?

There is enough research out there to show that spending a lifetime in pursuit of increasing one’s spending power is not necessarily the route to the sparkling life.  Well if not money, then what?  If not a sackful of life’s goodies, then what?

In ACT terms living a sparkling life is much more equated with living a life based on our values.   Obviously then we need to find out what our values are, and that’s not always easy.  However, if we want our lives to sparkle then it’s important that we invest time to discover what is important to us, what we want our lives to be about.

Once we know that, then we can shape what we do, our actions, around what matters, our values.  When they match up then our life will start to sparkle again.

TIP FOR TODAY

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How have you been able to use your values to make your life sparkle?
  • If your life lost its sparkle how did you get it back?
  • 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

Pebbles in the Stream

PEBBLES IN THE STREAM

Throw a pebble in the stream and watch the ripples run,

That’s what happens with an action, with a something that we’ve done,

It will have its repercussions, sometimes bad and sometimes good,

So if we are doing something let’s do something that we should.

It may be a call to action is at times best left ignored

When we’re feeling over anxious, over tired or just plain bored,

Or maybe we’re indecisive, and it then can do no harm

To withdraw for just a little ‘til we start to feel more calm.

And the question to be asked is if next morning we’ll be proud

Of an action that we’ve taken, and if not it’s disallowed,

And if we’re unsure of the answer let a value shed some light

On the act we’re contemplating, and we’ll soon know if it’s right.

And so if we prize loving kindness let us get it in our head

That a sharp retort or petty jibe is better left unsaid,

And if we say independence is a treasure to pursue

Then we’ll have to do the things that independent spirits do.

And the list is pretty endless, for all lives with values teem

And they’ll always know which pebbles we should throw into the stream,

And although life may seem easier when values we ignore,

It is the value driven life that always sparkles more.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “PEBBLES IN THE STREAM” please pass it on, and do please leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

It can be difficult clarifying our values, but given their importance it is well worth the effort.  ACT literature is full of useful techniques to help us to work out and prioritize what really matters to us.   Because I am still reading

Product Details

by Oliver, Hill and Morris, their examples and worksheets are freshest in my mind, but I have also used Russ Harris’ excellent book too.

Product Details

Which brings us to the……

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACT and Thought Defusion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: How can I get rid of troublesome thoughts?

A: You can’t, but you can learn to look at them differently.

Thought Defusion is another pillar-stone of ACT.  Learning to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to distance ourselves from our thinking is one of the key skills that we can learn to reduce our suffering.  For yes, we do cause a lot of our own suffering.

Sometimes our suffering comes to us from external events that we cannot change.  That suffering is part of the human condition.  Learning to accept it as such, as a natural part of human experience, is another dimension of ACT.

However, for now we are talking about our thinking, and how our thoughts can, and often do cause us to suffer.  Learning a different way to respond to our thoughts, what ACT calls Thought Defusion can be very helpful.

In a previous post, ACT and Worrisome Thoughts, we saw how our mind has evolved to err on the side of caution, to look for the negatives and to be on constant red alert.  This is the mind’s natural default position, if you like, and it is like that for a reason.  In evolutionary terms this kind of cautious mind helped us to sniff out danger and survive.  It is this mind-set that 21st century man has inherited, and sometimes it causes us problems.

One of the main aims of ACT is to help us to develop psychological flexibility so that we can learn to respond to the world, both external and internal, in more helpful and meaningful ways.  Thought Defusion is one of the tools that we can use to increase our psychological flexibility.

Most of us take our thoughts far too seriously.  I know I do!  I tend to think that because I am thinking something it must be important, it must be true and I must pay it a lot of attention!  None of that is necessarily the case.  ACT isn’t so much interested in whether a thought is true or false or right or wrong.  ACT is more interested in whether or not a thought is useful or not, or in ACT terms is it workable?  If it is hang on to it, if not let it go.

It helps me to remember that a thought is just a thought.  It is just a string of words, and I have made them up.  I am not my thoughts.  My thoughts are not me.  I had a lot of trouble with this, I can tell you, but learning to distance myself from my thoughts, to see that I am the thinker and not the thought has helped me a lot.

TIP FOR TODAY!

 

Our-thoughts-are-only2

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with troublesome thoughts?
  • Can you create distance from your thoughts and see them as just bits of content passing through?
  • 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

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STRINGS OF WORDS

It comes from out of nowhere, it’s the thought we like the least,

It’s the one that most torments us, and once it has been released

It is spiralling within us, a freak storm out of control,

And we’re overcome with anguish as it seeps into our soul.

Where it comes from doesn’t matter, but the old familiar ring

Sets up the old familiar struggle, but it’s here now that’s the thing,

And we’re learning that the struggle doesn’t help us much at all,

It’s just fuel for the thinking we are trying to forestall.

And so let’s try another tactic, for we’re told another way

To respond to stinking thinking is to let it have its day

And be willing to accept it whilst it’s here, just as it is,

Maybe look at it with interest without getting in a tizz.

And it maybe that the thinking that disturbs us will abate,

Or maybe we’ll have to let it be and learn to tolerate

The discomfort it occasions, well we can do that you know

If we make a space inside and let our thoughts just come and go.

And we needn’t make them sticky, we need not with them engage,

We can stop the feeding frenzy that occurs when war we wage,

And we needn’t make them magical with powers from afar,

For our thoughts are only strings of words and that is all they are.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

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

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

ACT suggests lots of techniques for helping us to defuse from our thoughts.  Some of them may seem outlandish, but if they work for you that’s all that matters. Amongst the more wacky ones are:

  • Singing a thought out loud to one of these well-known tunes

Happy Birthday

She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain

Jingle Bells

 

  • Saying the thought in the voice of someone famous, or a cartoon character like

Donald Duck

Homer Simpson

The idea behind these techniques is to try to take the sting out of our thoughts, to reduce them to just the bits of language that they are.  When we have difficult, troublesome thoughts it helps to notice how we verbalise these thoughts to ourselves.  I know when I am having these kinds of thoughts I am verbalising them to myself in a very dark and macabre way.  I am literally scaring myself to death.

If you take the same thought, the same words, and start singing it to Happy Birthday, and I have done that, the thought doesn’t seem nearly as frightening or important.  Try it and see, preferably not in public!!

For more Thought Defusion techniques Oliver, Hill ad Morris’ book

Product Details

is very illuminating, and has lots of useful worksheets. I am reading it at the moment and really enjoying it.

Which brings us to the……

ACTivation POINT!

SO …………………………..

Just-for-today-my thoughts

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