ACT and Flexing our Wings


Q:  I’d like to try something new but what if it all goes wrong?  What if I fall?

A:  Oh, but my darling what if you fly?

A shaky self confidence or fear of failure stops many of us from pursuing our passions.  We want guarantees before we try something new, but there are no guarantees.  If we are not prepared to live with our natural anxieties then we are denying ourselves the possibilities that could be ours if we dared to take a chance.

In ACT we are reminded that whilst we may feel safer by choosing not to take a step into the unknown there is a cost attached.  This cost is what ACT calls experiential avoidance.  Experiential avoidance is the natural human tendency we all have to avoid unpleasantness and discomfort.  In the external world that makes sense but in the internal world of thoughts and feelings it can lead to problems.  The more we try to avoid the natural feelings of anxiety and fear that accompany trying something new the smaller our world becomes.  The antidote to experiential avoidance is psychological flexibility and that is what ACT helps us to develop.

There is a great video entitled “Headstuck! What is Experiential Avoidance?” which explains it really clearly.   Do take a look.  I think you will enjoy it.  It certainly made me think again about the pitfalls of experiential avoidance.  Yes, it may seem to work in the short-term but in the long-term it leads to problems.

I wrote “FLEXING OUR WINGS” to remind me of that.


  • Have you experienced the pitfalls of experiential avoidance?
  • How do you cope with the negative feelings that go with trying something new?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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






When we feel most uncomfortable is when we’d like to stay

Safe within the old parameters we’ve set up for today,

They’re the ones we’ve tried and tested, they’re the ones we know so well,

And it’s scary stepping out of them, and hence the warning bell

That reminds us of the dangers that lurk in the great unknown,

That encourages our reticence as seeds of doubt are sown,

And demand of us a certainty we can’t attain and so

It is easier to disengage and let the challenge go.

And how often have we done it, stepped up almost to the brink,

Been prepared almost to test our wings, only away to slink

As the warning bell rings louder, sings the siren song of shame

As we imagine ourselves failing, and so withdraw from the game.

But it only is a game you know, a game with much to teach,

All those lovely possibilities that could be in our reach

If we dared to take a chance, if we became prepared to try

And say, “I know there is a chance I’ll fall, but there’s a chance I’ll fly.”

And so next time discomfort visits us let’s try to braver be

And let’s not scurry back to safety, let’s abide uncertainty,

And though the brink may rise up scary let’s accept those scary things,

So we can find out what it feels like when we dare to flex our wings.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “FLEXING OUR WINGS” 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 haven’t already clicked on the video:

“Headstuck! What is Experiential Avoidance?”

then do yourself a favour and do it now!  It can be difficult getting your head around some of the concepts in ACT but “experiential avoidance” and its antidote “psychological flexibility” are so central that it is well worth getting a clear understanding of them.  This video certainly helped me.

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.

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