ACT and The Serenity Prayer

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How do I make difficult decisions?

A:  Turn to The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer has played an important part in my life.  It seems to seek me out when I most need it.   Many years ago I discovered it had pride of place in Twelve Step Programmes.   Years later when I stumbled upon ACT I found it was once more at the heart of things.

In fact it was the prominence given to The Serenity Prayer in ACT that made we feel completely at home there.  When things get tough, when difficult choices need to be made, turning to The Serenity Prayer never disappoints.

I wrote “CHOICES” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Does The Serenity Prayer play a part in your life?
  • Has it helped you to make difficult decisions?
  • 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

Accepting-things-we

POEM FOR TODAY

DSC05730

CHOICES

Accepting things we cannot change, changing the things we can,

Well these words could be a blueprint for the life of any man,

For if we are at a crossroads and we’re feeling all confused

They will clarify our choices ‘til we’re feeling less bemused.

They speak to us through the ages from a mind of yesteryear,

If we listen in the stilling then these words are ours to hear,

They will seep into our psyche and once learned they’re always there,

So when we are faced with choices we can say them like a prayer.

“Oh God grant me the Serenity,” we pray with all our might,

“To accept the things I cannot change, the things I cannot fight,

And afford me Lord the courage Lord to change the things I can,”

Yes these words could be the blueprint for the life of any man.

And that leaves just one line missing, the most notable of all,

It’s the one that asks for wisdom, so when choices come to call

We can listen in the stilling as life starts to re-arrange,

And we will know which things we should accept, and which things we should change.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “CHOICES” 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 read more about how The Serenity Prayer fits into ACT there is a great article on the ACBS website entitled, “New Harbinger’s interview with Steve Hayes.”  In the interview Steve Hayes discusses his book “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life.”

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During the interview he explains some of the principal tenets of ACT, how for example,

“Accepting your pain is a step toward ridding yourself of  your suffering” … and that

“ACT is based on the idea that psychological suffering is usually caused by running away from difficult private experiences, by becoming entangled in your own thoughts, and as a result of all of that failing to get your feet moving in accord with your chosen core values.”  … and that

“ACT has an agenda sort of like that Serenity Prayer from AA:  accept what you can’t change, change what you can.  In the prayer, clients ask for the wisdom to know the difference – ACT theory specifies that difference.”

It’s a great article.  I am a great fan of The Serenity Prayer, I am a great fan of ACT.  To me ACT is, in a sense, The Serenity Prayer plus values.  It works for me!

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Im-going

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

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ACT and Unwelcome Visitors

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I deal with uncomfortable feelings?

A:  Treat them as visitors.  Learn to defuse.

When we view our feelings as old familiar friends this may help us to make a distinction between ourselves and our feelings.  This can be helpful.  When we can put distance between ourselves and our feelings we are beginning to defuse.  When we defuse we are beginning to see ourselves as separate from our feelings.  Our feelings are part of us but they are not all of us.  We are more than our feelings, far more than our feelings.

When we fuse with our feelings we say something like, “I am depressed, I am hopeless, I am no good.”  The feeling comes to define who we are, it overwhelms us at the same time as it diminishes us.

When we defuse we say something  like, “Here comes my old friend depression.   I wonder how long he is going to stick around this time.”  It’s different.

Putting labels on our feelings can help us to separate them out, to put distance between ourselves and our feelings.  When we treat them as visitors we have a different relationship with them.  We can give them houseroom but they are only staying temporarily.  They will be moving on.  We are still here.

I wrote “FLIMSY FLEETING FEELINGS” to remind me

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you becoming more skilled at defusion?
  • Do you recognise when you are fused with your feelings?
  • 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

But-remember-all-these feelings

POEM FOR TODAY

IMG_5352

FLIMSY FLEETING FEELINGS

Our feelings come to visit us like old familiar friends,

Here’s the one we love to welcome, here’s another that descends

Like a cloud upon our consciousness, it’s heavy and it’s grey,

And once it’s installed in residence ‘twill likely stay all day.

And we never know quite what will come, they take us by surprise,

Life is seeming going swimmingly then sudden we capsize

And we’re drowning in a feeling we did not anticipate,

It just snuck up unexpected, now we’re in an awful state.

But remember all these feelings are just visiting and so

We need not be too attached to them for soon enough they’ll go,

For they are not things of substance, we can’t tie a feeling down,

And if we will learn to surf them then we find we will not drown.

And we’ll be free to take them with us no matter what we do,

They’ll just be there in the background ‘til they’re ready to move through,

And we will not have been held hostage, nor else given away our power

To our flimsy fleeting feelings that will change from hour to hour.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

 If you enjoyed, “FLIMSY FLEETING FEELINGS” 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 …..

There is no doubt that some feelings are “stickier” than others.  We all have our own particular favourites, those feelings that seem to visit more often and stick around longer.  What to do?

Well the answer is always the same.  Recognise the feeling, whatever that feeling may be and use defusion techniques to unhook from it.  No it isn’t easy.  But we can learn the techniques, we can become more skilful.

Amongst our many old familiar friends Depression is particularly unwelcome.  If you find Depression showing up rather too regularly then you might like to check out an article at portlanddepressiontreatment.com.  Entitled “ACT Treatment of Depression” it makes for interesting reading.  Head on over and see what you think.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will

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 Feeling the Feelings

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I stop my feelings getting in the way?

A:  Accept them and take action anyway.

We can get very attached to our feelings.  The good ones we want to hang on to, the bad ones we want to get rid of.  Many of us may spend a good deal of our time trying to alter our feelings.  Many of us may feel that we cannot get on with our lives until we feel better.  A lot of time gets wasted this way.  A lot of opportunities are lost because we are waiting for that elusive feel good feeling.  We tell ourselves that we cannot do this, go there, try this, risk that until we are feeling at our absolute tip-top best.

ACT, however, tells us something quite different.  ACT says, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”  ACT says, “Don’t wait.  Take action right now, irrespective of how you feel.”  ACT says, “You can’t control how you feel, but you can control what you do.”

No matter how small, we can always take a meaningful action in line with our values.  That action has the potential to change our feelings.  It isn’t guaranteed.  ACT isn’t in the business of making those promises.  What it is in the business of is helping us to create a more meaningful life despite our feelings.  And feelings pass anyway.  They are transitory, like clouds in the sky.

I wrote “FLIRTING WITH A SMILE” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Have you been able to feel the fear and do it anyway?
  • How do you put your feelings in their place?
  • 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

When-our-spirits-are-all

POEM FOR TODAY

file0001958819012

FLIRTING WITH A SMILE

Oh wouldn’t it be wonderful to always feel alright,

To wake up and greet each morning with a disposition bright,

And to never know discomfort nor to feel uncertainty,

Well it might be wonderful but it is not reality.

For we’re full of little nuances, there’s no escaping that,

There’ll be times we’ll feel uplifted, there’ll be times when we’ll feel flat,

And sometimes life may seem wearisome, when all is dull and grey,

But for all our wishful thinking some things will not go away.

So we’ll just have to live with them, find a better way to cope,

When we’re feeling our most hopeless, find a way to reach for hope,

And when our spirits are all deadened and for now we’ve lost our spark,

Keep the faith for long enough to find our way out of the dark.

For we will wake up one morning when the wheel has somehow turned,

When we’re feeling more light-hearted, our concerns somehow adjourned

And we start planning little actions that will make life seem worthwhile,

And we’re not sure how it happened but we’re flirting with a smile.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

 If you enjoyed, “FLIRTING WITH A SMILE” 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 recently read an interesting article about ACT and Feelings at anxietyhappens.com.  Anyone who is familiar with the feeling of Anxiety would probably be quick to tell you that it is not a particularly pleasant feeling.  I can vouch for that!  Anxiety is an old familiar friend to me.

In the past I have certainly not welcomed it, and have spent considerable time and effort in trying to get rid of it.  However, since discovering ACT, I have changed my attitude somewhat.

When anxiety visits me, which it still does from time to time, I am more likely to dredge up my Mindfulness skills and take some time to just be with it.  Exploring it gently and with curiosity, as ACT recommends we do, is less likely to increase my stress, my anxiety.

What do you think?

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will allow

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 Telling Stories

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I stop my thoughts driving me crazy?

A:  You can stop believing they’re true.

One of the things I liked most about ACT when I was first discovered it was the way it dealt with thoughts.

Our internal experience, ie our thoughts and our emotions, can be a rather unpleasant affair.  All the more so if we take our thoughts very seriously and believe that because we are thinking them our thoughts must be true.

When it was suggested that this might not actually be the case I couldn’t really get my head around it.  I believed that my thoughts were most definitely important and most definitely true.  I told myself some very favourite and very scary stories.  I still do at times.  When that happens it doesn’t take long before I am headed in a downward spiral.

Thanks to ACT though I am beginning to recognise when I am fused with my story.  In ACT, remember, it is not so much whether thoughts are true or false that is important as whether they are workable.  If they are helpful and moving us in a meaningful direction, great.  If they are not best to let them go.  Easier said than done?  Maybe, but definitely worth the effort.

I wrote “TELLING STORIES” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you getting better at defusing from your stories?
  • Are you able to recognise fact from fiction?
  • 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

It-is-not-til-we-make

POEM FOR TODAY

file0001770517928

TELLING STORIES

Maybe we’re all churned up and anxious and things are not going so well,

It’s the same old same old story, it’s the one we love to tell,

And it’s now engraved so deeply that we think it must be true,

And yet it only is a story, truth to tell it’s nothing new.

Oh we may give it embellishments to make it scarier still,

All those nasty little nuances all guaranteed to fill

Us with feelings of foreboding, even now our body reacts,

For when our mind makes up its stories, for our bodies these are facts.

And it’s really not surprising that we’re all churned up inside,

Mind and body locked together in a roller coaster ride,

And it’s not ‘til we make distance from this story of renown

That we distinguish fact from fiction, and our body can calm down.

And so next time we tell a story and our stomach starts to churn,

And our heart is busy thumping and our throat begins to burn,

Let’s remember these are signals that we’ve made ourselves afraid,

And if we know it’s just a story then the feelings start to fade.

 

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “TELLING 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 …..

ACT is very interested in teaching us how to defuse from unhelpful thoughts and stories so that we are more free to take steps to move forward in more meaningful directions in our life.

Instead of being trapped and held hostage by unhelpful thoughts, ACT teaches us techniques to reduce their power over us so that we are more able to act in ways that are consistent with our values.

These techniques don’t have to be very fancy.  In fact anything that helps us to create distance and see our thoughts as just thoughts, words and images floating around in our head, will do the trick.

Cuddly toys and spectacle cases are just some of the props used in a great video by Joseph Rhinewine entitled “Fusion and Defusion in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.”  Check it out and see what you think.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will not act

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 Stress (2)

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I deal better with my stress?

A:  Make it your friend!

stress friend

Sometimes, just sometimes you read something or you hear something that stops you dead in your tracks.

That happened to me when I stumbled upon a TED Talk give by Psychologist Kelly McGonigal.

“Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.”

In the video Kelly makes a powerful case for saying that,

“Stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case.”

She goes further too by suggesting that there is a little known upside to stress which can be remarkably beneficial to us.

I found her talk on “How to Make Stress Your Friend” fascinating.  It made me re-think my attitude to stress.   See what you think?

I wrote “THIS STRESSFUL STATE” to remind me that stress does not have to be pubic enemy number one.  With a change of attitude it can become our friend.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • What is your attitude to stress?
  • Are you prepared to have a re-think?
  • 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

When-we-see-our-stress

POEM FOR TODAY

Water garden MGD©

THIS STRESSFUL STATE

It could be that we’ve got it wrong, our attitude to stress,

For although we may feel better when we’re not under duress,

Stress is not for demonising, like the enemy at the gate,

It has served us well for ages, so what is this stressful state?

Well it happens when we’re challenged, or we feel we’re under threat,

Fight and flight response is triggered, there to aid us and abet,

And as body starts reacting and our instincts quick kick in,

There is something rather wonderful now happening within.

For when chemicals start surging we’re becoming more alert,

We are poised for fight or flight now, we’ve received the magic spurt,

And we’re ready now for action as adrenaline pumps through,

And if we can change our attitude our body can change too.

For when we view stress more kindly, not as something to abhor,

And applaud the chain reaction as an asset not a flaw,

Then we send a powerful message to the body from the mind

Saying, “We’re stressed, but not to worry,” then the body acts in kind.

And then we can reap the benefits the stress response ignites

When we’re not busy telling stories of how stress the body blights,

For when we see our stress as positive, our evolutionary friend,

Then we no longer make it toxic and our fear of it can end.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “THIS STRESSFUL STATE” 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 found this TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal to be very ACT-like.  Like ACT it is based on the latest scientific research and reinforces a lot of what we learn in ACT.

Kelly says that after a decade of portraying stress as an enemy, the new science of stress has made her change her mind.  Her goal now as a health psychologist has changed.

“I no longer want to get rid of your stress.  I want to make you better at stress.”

Kelly also introduces one of the most under-appreciated aspects of the stress response.  She says that stress makes us social.  She goes on to discuss the importance of the stress hormone oxytocin, “the cuddle hormone” with all its attendant benefits.

Kelly concludes her talk by saying:

“Stress gives us access to our hearts.  The compassionate heart that finds joy and meaning in connecting with others, and yes, your pounding physical heart, working so hard to give you strength and energy.  And when you choose to view your stress in this way you’re not just getting better at stress, you’re actually making a pretty profound statement  You’re saying that you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges.  And you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.”

What a great talk!  I loved it.

In the Q and A section at the end perhaps the most ACT-like statement of all and I leave you with it now.

“One thing we know for certain is that chasing meaning is better for your health than trying to avoid discomfort.  And so I would say that’s really the best way to make decisions, is to go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and then trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.”

Rings a bell doesn’t it?

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Today-I-will-put-to-an

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 Stress (1)

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What’s the best way to cope with stress?

A:  Effectively!

It's not stress that kills us it is our reaction to it

This quote by Dr Hans Selye, one of the fathers of modern stress research, illustrates the dilemma we face while living in the modern world.  Our bodies’ reaction to stress – the fight or flight response – can have a major impact on our health.  This response, which works very well when triggered occasionally, all too often seems to get stuck.

Job pressures, relationship issues, financial stress and unexpected events – all trigger the same primal response from the body’s sympathetic nervous system. This essentially puts the body on a war footing, releasing cortisol and other stress hormones throughout the body, shutting down digestion and increasing muscle tension and inflammation.  Over time this can have very far reaching and serious consequences.  Too much stress ineffectively handled is definitely not good for us!

So, where do we turn to for help?  Well many of us may have found refuge in all sorts of temporary escapisms.  Drink, drugs, food, shopping, work, exercise to name but a few.  Unfortunately, though these may work in the short term they tend not to be so effective in the long term and can even exacerbate the initial problem by creating problems of their own.

So what to do?  Well there is a lot of research to show that the answer lies within our own body.

The para sympathetic nervous system (sometimes known as the ‘rest and digest’ system) triggers the opposite response to fight or flight, thereby restoring equilibrium to the body.

What we are looking for then is the “Relaxation Response” to counter the “Fight or Flight Response”.  Where do we find it?

Research shows that,

“The para sympathetic nervous system can be activated and strengthened using slow diaphragmatic breathing as found in meditation and yoga.”

In other words, when we are in the grip of the stress response we can find the relaxation response in our very next breath!

I wrote “THE STRESS RESPONSE” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • What sort of attitude do you have towards stress?
  • Have you discovered the power of the breathing 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

All-thats-needed-is-a

POEM FOR TODAY

P1350135

THE STRESS RESPONSE

We all have known those moments when the chemicals course through,

When our heart is starting pounding and our pressure’s rising too,

And the stress response is surging as it carries us away

Far beyond the equilibrium we hoped was ours today.

It may be it was significant, this something that occurred,

That stirred up our lovely comfort zones and left us all disturbed,

Or maybe on this occasion it was nothing much at all,

But when the stress response gets going it is difficult to stall.

And it really can be wearisome, this constant red alert,

When our body’s on war footing trying to stop us getting hurt,

But when it doesn’t make distinctions ‘bout the level of a threat

Then the stress response gets stuck, and getting stressed is what we get.

And we know we should find refuge, and we would do if we could,

For when we’re flooded out with chemicals that won’t do us much good,

But where to find it, that’s the problem, we have tried so many things,

Well we could look to our body, this same body that stress brings.

For it can counteract the stress response, it’s really very slick,

We have a body with an antidote and that will do the trick,

And all that’s needed is a breathing space that’s long and deep and slow,

And as we feel ourselves relaxing then our stress begins to go.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “THE STRESS RESPONSE” 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 …..

Not strictly ACT I know, but if you want to find out more about Dr Hans Selye, then check out the American Institute of Stress website.  It makes for fascinating reading!

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-if-things

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 Realignment

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I make sure the goals I set are worth achieving?

A:  Align them with your values.

values

ACT makes a distinction between values and goalsValues represent the direction of travel, goals are the signposts we reach along the way.  Goals come and go, values stay the same.

Most of us use our goals to measure our progress.  We tick them off as we achieve them and then we set new goals which can be ticked off in turn.  Goals give us a measuring stick.  They are useful, they help us to shape our lives.

Values are more enduring.  They underpin our goals but they are not our goals.  Problems can arise if our goals are not in line with our values.  If we find that reaching our goals is less satisfying than we would have hoped, it may be that they are somehow out of synch with our values.  If this is the case we may need to do a spot of realignment.  Goals work best when they are in line with our values.

I wrote “REALIGNMENT” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Do you think aligning goals and values is important?
  • How does it work for you?
  • 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

If-we-choose-a-direction 2

POEM FOR TODAY

3500 years old stairs Crete-Gournia

REALIGNMENT

It’s not great to get distracted if we have got a goal,

For each time we fail to act upon a goal will take its toll,

But if we choose a direction, happily it’s always true

We can always make some progress, even baby steps will do.

There’s a case for setting goals, of course there is, they move us on,

We can see when we have reached them, we can see when they have gone,

But a direction is more constant, is more solid, is more sound,

With direction we can always take some time to look around.

And we can ask ourselves the questions that a goal won’t well receive

For it’s not just about achievement, it’s the way that we achieve,

And where a goal will be less bothered by our methodology

A direction’s more demanding, it demands integrity.

And so if we are setting goals and when we meet them we’re surprised

They are less than satisfying, it could be we’ve compromised

On the direction of our travel, which distinctly unimpressed

Says, “Realign goals with direction if you want them to work best.”

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “REALIGNMENT” 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 …..

There is an excellent article at mindfulnessmuse.com entitled, “How to Translate Values Into Committed Action.”  The author, Laura Schenck, MA, reminds us that:

“Once you feel that you have a clear sense of the underlying values that you wish to live by, the next step is to translate those values into committed action.  While possessing knowledge of what your values are is essential, it will mean very little at the end of the day if there is no action taken to live by those values. You must begin to make the behavioral choice and commitment to making your values manifest through your actions.”

If you are interested in learning more about setting Values-Based Goals, do visit mindfulnessmuse.com.  I shall certainly be returning.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will realign

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