ACT and Creating Distance


Q:  What should I do when something awful happens?

A:  Give yourself some time and space. 

John Lennon once famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, and it’s true isn’t it?

Sometimes life seems to be going so well, our plans come to fruition, we seem to be masters of our universe, we start to become complacent, and then …….

And then something happens!  Something happens to remind us that our illusion of control was just that, an illusion.  Whilst we were busy making other plans, life had other plans for us.

In the aftermath of an unforeseen, unwelcome event it is natural that our first instinctive reactions are of aversion, of alarm, of panic even.  This is not the time for action.  This is the time to give ourselves some time and space.  This is the time to allow time for the instinctive reaction to turn into a considered response.  Then it is time for action.

ACT encourages us to create this time and space.  ACT reminds us that we are not our feelings and our feelings are not us.  We are more than our feelings.  Our feelings come and go, they are only passing through.  It is not easy when we are in the throes of uncomfortable feelings but it does help if we can make that time and space to allow them to move through unimpeded, learn to watch them and get to know them instead of struggling with them or trying to change them.

I wrote the poem “BLOODIED BUT NOT BOWED” to remind me of that.


  • How do you cope with uncomfortable feelings?
  • What do you do when something awful happens?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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







Life sometimes comes to bite us, something shocks us out the blue,

‘Twas completely unexpected and we don’t know what to do,

And for now we are left reeling, feeling shaken up and so

In the midst of battles raging it is best to take it slow.

There’ll be time enough for action, but for now we need a space,

Need a place where we can settle and our feelings start to face,

Let them move around within us, unimpeded if we can,

And accept what we are feeling for our feelings we can’t ban.

Oh it’s not what we’d have wanted and our instincts make us rail,

Try to change the now unchangeable but here we’re bound to fail,

And so though feelings coursing through us are now hitting us full force

They are natural reactions, so let’s let them run their course.

And then when the worst is over, as it will be if allowed

To move through without resistance, we’ll be bloodied but not bowed,

And when the time comes to take action we’ll be far more better placed

Than if we’d fought against our feelings and our energy laid waste.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “BLOODIED BUT NOT BOWED” 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 always like to leave the final word to ACT and so I leave you with a quotation which I found on, a website which has lots of useful information.

ACT has a nifty technical term for creating distance, for making time and space, and it is one of the pillars on which Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is built.  That term is DEFUSION.

The quotation at sums it up quite neatly.

“Defusion involves distancing, disconnecting or seeing thoughts and feelings for what they are (streams of words, passing sensations), not what they say they are (dangers or facts).”

I will try to remember that the next time that Life springs a nasty surprise!

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


Published by

Corinne Shields

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, erstwhile teacher for thirty plus years, and permanent student. I have long been interested in psychology and spirituality and enjoy writing inspirational poetry. Hence the publication of this blog at ACT Made I play golf badly, piano a little better and I love reading, writing, and all things French. I divide my time between Wales and France and enjoy travelling with my husband, Len and my dog Charlie.

9 thoughts on “ACT and Creating Distance”

  1. I really like this one. I found myself being a bit reactive several years ago in place of uncomfortable emotions. It took a lot of inner work before I realized the peace and change taking space provided. The more I practiced, the easier it got to do it. It still challenges me many times, but I was able to really learn how to pause. PS> I love the title of the poem! (and of course the poem), but the title was accurate in a deep way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sums it up well I think, Gabriele, that title. That’s how life often leaves us isn’t it? “Bloodied but not bowed”. And making that space does help. I am trying to remember to do that. We can’t help the first instinctive reaction, but we don’t have to act on it, and often with hindsight we’re so glad we didn’t!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi,

    Taking the time and giving myself space definitely has helped me a few times with uncomfortable situations or awful feelings. If I can’t just think of something else for the time being… (Which is hard since I am an over thinker), I focus my thoughts on something else. I’ll pick up a book or watch a movie that will grab my full attention. This will help lessen the emotions on whatever it is that was bothering me. After I am done, I am usually calm enough to start the mending process.


    1. I love the term “the mending process.” This is so apt. When our emotions are running wild and we are hurting, that is the time to create the space and be gentle with ourselves. When they have moved through the mending can begin. Thanks for your visit and your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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