ACT and Living Presently

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  I’m fed up with fighting my feelings.  What can I do?

A:  Accept them.

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Nobody likes uncomfortable feelings, unpleasant thoughts, difficult emotions.  The natural reaction, the human reaction, is to fight against them, to try to get rid of them, to want to see them gone.  But sometimes the more we fight them the stronger they get, sometimes the more we deny them the more persistent they become and sometimes the louder we shout at them the louder they shout back.

It’s all very wearing.  We exhaust ourselves without exhausting them.

ACT suggests an alternative.  ACT suggests that instead of fighting our feelings we accept them, instead of denying our emotions we explore them, instead of challenging our thoughts we observe them.  It’s all a lot less hassle.  It doesn’t mean that they will necessarily disappear.  What it does mean, however, is that we will not waste our precious energy in futile struggle.  Then we will have that energy to do something useful, something meaningful.

I wrote “LIVING PRESENTLY” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Do you wear yourself out fighting your feelings?
  • Are you willing to give up the struggle and explore them instead?
  • 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

To-be-one-with-our

POEM FOR TODAY

Temp 0018

LIVING PRESENTLY

 

To go about our business in a present sort of way,

To accept what is occurring without pushing it away,

And be one with our experience, whatever it may be,

This is what it means when we are living presently.

It’s the laying down of struggle to allow the what-is in,

It’s a curious exploration when we’re willing to begin

To let all our thoughts and feelings unimpeded move on through,

When we’re living presently then this is what we do.

It’s an elegant alternative we now put to good use

Not in tying ourselves in knots, but rather shaking ourselves loose

From an overwhelming feeling or a discomforting thought,

When we’re watching from safe distance then we’re not in those knots caught.

So let’s go about our business in a present sort of way,

Be alert to what’s unfolding every moment of the day,

And let’s not become a victim of a stubborn clinging on

To a feeling or a thought which if we let it will be gone.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

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

Which brings us to the ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will feelings

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 KINDNESS

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  I feel so mean.  How can I become kinder?

A:  In becoming kinder to yourself you become kinder to others.

kindness

The Bible tells us to, “Love thy neighbour as thyself.”  I remember as a little girl in Chapel thinking that this meant that you had to put others before yourself and think of others first.  As I remember nobody encouraged my to think otherwise.  I guess it suited them!

As a grown up I ‘m having a bit of a re-think.  This Commandment doesn’t say, “Love thy neighbour better than thyself, or less than thyself, it says as thyself.”  Although there are plenty of selfish, egocentric people out there, it seems to me that this world is also brim full of people who don’t love themselves very much and therefore are incapable of loving anyone else either.

If we want to be kinder generally there is a case for starting with ourselves.  Being kind to ourselves seems to me to be a pre-requisite to being kind to others.  So, instead of being mean with ourselves let’s try being generous with ourselves, instead of being harsh with ourselves let’s try being kind to ourselves.

In ACT terms this may mean we have to defuse from the stories that we have been telling ourselves.  They are only stories after all.  That little girl in Chapel listened to lots of stories and thought they were true as little girls often do!  When we are grown up though we have a chance to decide for ourselves whether these stories are useful or not.  If they work for us that’s fine.  If they don’t it may be time to let them go.

Today I am making a case for kindness beginning at home.

I wrote the poem “KINDNESS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at being kind to yourself?
  • Is it time that you defused from some of your stories?
  • 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

Great Spangled Frittilary

KINDNESS

 

Let’s say a prayer for kindness, it’s our birth-right to be kind,

So if we want to be happy let’s our core of kindness find,

Let us poke around the embers ‘til they warm us from within

For it’s when we’re feeling warm inside that kindness can begin.

So the ear that’s poised to listen and the heart that opens wide

And the smiles bestowed unstintingly are fired from inside,

And it’s good that we remember that despite what others say

If we don’t top up the kindnesses we’ve none to give away.

So let’s start with little courtesies we to ourselves extend

Listen careful to the messages that mind and body send,

And if body is complaining or our mind is stretched and taut

Let us give ourselves some kindness if we’re feeling overwrought.

For there’s not one rule for others whilst our Self we disregard,

So if we’re tempted to be critical let’s play the kindness card

And not look on it as selfishness, but altruistically

For it’s when we are in surplus we can give it out for free.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “KINDNESS” 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 has a lot to say about the stories that we tell ourselves, the messages that we have internalised as children which may not be helpful to the adults that we now are.

ACT is not so much concerned with whether these stories are true or false but whether they are workable.  What workable means is are they working for us or against us in our lives now.  If a story is working, that’s great, it’s useful so hold on to it.  If it’s not then let it go.  It is just a story after all!

If you want to read more about stories and their impact, and discover ways to disentangle and unhook from unhelpful stories there are lots of ACT resources to help.  In my opinion, one of the best is Russ Harris’

Which brings us to the ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

pink kindness

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 Boundaries

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  What should I do if people overstep the mark?

A:  Fix your boundaries!

boundaries

I had not intended to write a post about boundaries, I had not even been thinking about them, and then I read a post written by Tony at Sir Tonix entitled “Learn To Say No” and it got me thinking.

I really like what Tony has to say and I like the way that he says it, so if you have a problem with setting boundaries then I recommend you head over and pay him a visit.

Essentially he outlines seven steps that we can take to help us stop letting people walk all over us or, as is also often the case, to stop us walking all over other people.

One of those steps rang particularly clearly to me.  If we start setting new boundaries he warns us that we can expect a push back.  Of course we can.  But forewarned is forearmed!  We don’t have to roll over.

I know I can have problems with boundaries.  Mine can be a bit leaky at times and that can cause no end of trouble.  But we do have a right to say no.  Healthy boundaries are good for everyone.

I wrote the poem “BOUNDARIES” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you deal with leaky boundaries?
  • How good are you at setting healthy boundaries?
  • 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

TRESPASS 5

BOUNDARIES

Let’s think a bit of boundaries, our own and all the rest,

And let’s reflect on how our boundaries can work to serve us best,

For they’re there for a good reason and can serve us very well

If we know how to protect them and insurgents can repel.

There are those who’d seek to breech them, there are those that we’d invade,

And then wonder at the trouble inadvertently we’ve made

When we’re feeling very threatened or we’re warned to stay away,

Yes our boundaries are there to help us fight another day.

And it’s not easy to interpret the mixed messages they send

When we’re getting muddled up in where they start and where they end,

But we’d do well to re-establish where our boundary lines fall

Before we’re caught out in a trespass and relationships then stall.

But let’s not be too defensive, nor else careless cross a line,

Let us try to remain flexible when boundaries we define,

For when we’re learning to set limits in a skilful way we’ll see

That a bit of give and take works best with any boundary.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “BOUNDARIES” 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 …..

The following quotation seems to me encapsulate the ACT therapeutic message when it comes to setting boundaries.  Why?  Because VALUES are at the heart of it.  It can be difficult to know where to set our boundaries.  For those of us who find it hard to say no, boundaries may have become blurred if not non-existent.  We may have forgotten where we end and someone else begins, we may have become fused to such an extent with someone else’s life that we have lost all sense of our own individuality.  This is not OK.

If we are aware of this and ready to begin to reinstall our boundaries but are unsure where to begin, then our values can be our best guide.  They will not mislead 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 Challenges

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: How can I win more confidence?

A: By becoming willing to take on challenges

It’s Day 4 of the Blogging 101 Course and the going is getting tough.  This, we are told, is when the tough get going!

Today’s assignment asked us to identify our audience and then publish a post for our “ideal reader”.

Who is my “ideal reader”?  Well, I suppose it’s anyone who wants to “Live Well and Stress Less”.  I should think that just about includes anyone and everyone!  So my target audience is pretty universal, but it’s the suggested solution, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), that may seem a bit more limiting.

I don’t want that to be the case, but I am going to stick with ACT.  Why?  Because I know quite a lot about it so I am confident talking about it and recommending it, and I think it works.

Over the years I have tried a variety of different things to try to reduce my stress levels and, after much trial and error, I have come to the conclusion that ACT works for me.  This blog is selfish in one way and altruistic in another.  It’s selfish in that writing about ACT regularly reinforces its message for me, so I can Live Well and Stress Less more often.  It’s also altruistic in that I genuinely believe that ACT can help others to Live Well and Stress Less too.  If my blog helps them to do that then amen to that!

Today’s Blogging 101 Assignment also asked us to do something different, to include a new to me element.

Well here goes.  I am going to try to embed a video with an inspirational song that I love, which just happens to be about, you guessed it, overcoming CHALLENGES.

This is going to be quite a challenge for me!

And it is a challenge that has defeated me!! For now, anyway.  But I will return to it.  I am afraid I am going to have to make do with linking to the song, “The World’s Greatest”, R Kelly.  I can’t get the video to work after having tried for an hour!!!  Enjoy the music anyway!

A quick update!

The video is working!!!!!  Do click it, you get the lyrics as well as the song, and they are brilliant.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope when life throws up its challenges?
  • Are you willing to take the helm when the sea gets rough?
  • 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

file3751334604150

CHALLENGES

We say we would be confident, we say we would be strong,

Then resist the chance to practice when a challenge comes along,

When we get to flex our muscles, have a chance to grow a bit,

We become all agitated and we have a hissy fit!

“Oh no!” we cry in anguish, “I don’t want to deal at all

With the problems that life tosses me, the ills that me befall,

I want confidence abundant, but I didn’t realise

That when it came a-knocking it would come in a disguise.

It would dress itself in challenges and put me on the rack

And with each step I took forward it would seem I took two back,

And my mind is sending messages that fill me with alarm

‘Til I remember that’s its function, it grew up predicting harm.”

But it’s then I feel a confidence grow in me just a touch,

Just a fragile bud that’s barely there, it’s true it isn’t much,

But with just a bit of practice and a willingness to learn

I see a challenge is a chance for me some confidence to earn.

And although we didn’t want it, we will see when we look back

That our confidence got stretched each time we lay down on the rack,

And there’s something rather wonderful in knowing we can’t lose

Every time we face a challenge, and that challenge we then choose.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed “CHALLENGES” 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.

This has been one of the hardest and most challenging blogs I have yet written.  I am exhausted with trying to overcome the video challenge!!

Any tips gratefully received!

Which brings us to the ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just for today I’m going to go and pick up my grandson and take him swimming instead of struggling with this anymore.  I accept that just for today it has me beat, so I’m going to go off and enjoy my time with my grandson.

TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging 101 – Day 3

I hope you are all enjoying the Blogging 101 Course as much as I am.  Much food for thought already, and we are only on Day 3!

Today’s assignment looks like fun.  “Getting to know the neighbours”, so I will be heading over to the Commons in a minute and also obeying instructions to pick and then follow 5 new blogs.

But before I do that, just a word on yesterday’s assignment.  The naming of the Blog, or the naming of our baby!

I expect, like many of us, I had a few sleepless nights wondering what to call my baby.  In the end I came up with ACT Made Lyrical, and actually at the time I felt it was quite an inspired choice.  True I knew not many people would know what ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) was all about, but I thought the strap line “Living Well Stressing Less” would compensate for that.

Yesterday I wrote a post entitled “The Birth of a Blog – The naming of ACT Made Lyrical” and overnight my misgivings about the title grew.  Was it too narrow?  Was it too obscure?  Should I reverse the title and strap-line etc?  By this morning I was all for throwing out the baby with the bathwater and ACT Made Lyrical as a title looked dead in the water.

Then quite by chance, and this is what un-nerves me about Social Media, the workings of which I don’t understand at all, I came across a blog post

Super-niching: The Dirty Little Secrets of Successful Bloggers Everywhere

and ACT Made Lyrical has survived to fight another day!

If you are concerned that your blog is too niche and too narrow, this blog post may help you to see it in a new light.  Suddenly your super-niche becomes something desirable and something to celebrate!

Happy blogging.  See you soon in the Commons.

Corinne

 

The Birth of a Blog – The naming of ACT Made Lyrical

After the birth, the naming!

Day 2 of the Blogging 101 Course asks us to name the baby!

As any parent knows, naming the baby is always a fraught thing to do.  It is something that requires a good deal of careful thought as this name is going to stay with that baby for life.  Name the baby well and that name will serve it well, name the baby badly and it can become a burden!

I have often wished my own parents had chosen a different name for me.  My name is Corinne, a relatively unusual name in the UK where I mostly live.  There were no other Corinnes in my school, let alone in my class, and I have gone through my life having to say my name twice and usually spell it as well!!  There are worse burdens but I have often wished that I had had a simpler name.  Conversely, in France where I sometimes live, Corinnes are ten a penny and I never have to repeat it or spell it.  In a foreign country my name is no burden at all!!

So when it came to naming my blog, personal experience had already taught me to name it with care!

Having said that, ACT Made Lyrical, is not a name that will resonate with many people, I guess, unless they have heard of ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy).  For that reason I did have my doubts about using it.  However, it does sum up exactly what the blog is about.  The blog is about ACT and I have made it lyrical.  The main focus of the blog is to deliver the ACT therapeutic message through the medium of poetry.  It is what I do!

I had also recently read a book by Russ Harris, one of the most famous ACT writers, entitled “ACT Made Simple”.  I liked that title and ACT Made Lyrical seemed to be in the same mould, and it sounded lyrical and poetic too and so the blog was  born, and so the blog was named!

To compensate for the possible lack of clarity in the title, I wanted the tagline to be VERY CLEAR.   I did consider “Living Well in the Midst of Life’s Challenges” as well as “Living Well Stressing Less”, and I ran them both past a couple of friends.  They both plumped for “Living Well Stressing Less” as being more pithy and memorable, so I went with that.

I would love you to leave some feedback and I am open to suggestions!!!!

I look forward to reading about how you gave birth to and named your baby blogs.

Have a great day.

Corinne

 

 

 

Who I am and why I’m here

Hello to all my fellow students on the Blogging 101 course, and hello to any other visitors who are dropping by today.  Welcome to one and all!

I am delighted that you have chosen to spend some time here at ACT Made Lyrical.  I hope you will enjoy what you find here and that you will visit again, as often as you like, and if you want to leave a comment, so much the better!

I have been blogging for about two months now, and for me this is the second time around.  I first dipped my toe into the blogosphere about three years ago and I blogged away for about fifteen months.  That blog was called soulsnet.com and it was pretty similar to ACT Made Lyrical in that it was made up of the same combination of poetry, commentary and photographs.  I used the 2010 theme then and I was pretty pleased with how it looked and what I produced.

Over the next year or so I learned a lot about both blogging and the blogging community and for the most part I really enjoyed it.  But, I ran out of steam.  Why?  Well I think I turned a pleasure into hard work and once it started to feel like a chore and visitor numbers weren’t growing I started to get demotivated.  So I stopped.

Why have I started again?  Well over the course of the next couple of years although I stopped blogging I never stopped writing poetry.  The difference was that instead of sharing them on a blog I  just wrote them down in notebooks that then went into the cupboard.

At the same time I became interested in Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).  I did some ACT courses and now my poetry had more of a focus.  I wasn’t just writing poetry I was writing poetry that was grounded in ACT.  I felt that what I was writing was more meaningful and had a therapeutic value.  I had discovered in fact that what I was writing was therapeutic poetry.  It was certainly therapeutic for me writing it and I believed that it would be therapeutic for people reading it too.

And so ACT Made Lyrical, with the strap line Living Well Stressing Less, was born!

Two months later I have published 14 posts and I am really pleased with the way the site looks.  That is not so much down to me as to the 2015 Theme that I now use.  It is amazing.  I can’t believe how professional it looks.  I love it and am really glad that I took that break, if for no other reason than it made me try something different.  I am not good with new technology and I know that I wouldn’t have made a change otherwise.  I have had MANY teething problems along the way and I have a lot to learn, especially in regards to social media which both fascinates and frightens me!

Another key difference this time is this course and all the others that WordPress now runs.  As far as I know these were not available last time.  Writing can be a pretty solitary affair, blogging can feel like shouting into the void, and so it is great to have this opportunity to connect with others and to learn with each other.

I am looking forward to learning a lot and getting to know you in the weeks to come.

Warm regards

Corinne

PS

Have just remembered I have got to put tags.  Tags and categories is something else I don’t know how to use properly!!!

ACT and Committed Action

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  I don’t think my blog will ever be ready to launch.  What should I do?

A:  ACTivate your blog now!!

It can be very scary when we are on the brink of something new, can’t it?  In fact it can be so scary that we can look for any excuse not to actually take that final step.  We can always find something else to do, some other detail to tweak, something else not quite right, not quite perfect that we can play around with.

I feel a bit like that with this blog.  I am not very teckie, I am not at all social media savy, I struggle every day with some new aspect of WordPress.  There is so much to learn.  At this rate this blog may never get launched!!

I have therefore decided that it is time to ACTivate my blog.

What does this mean?  Well from an ACT point of view it means that I am going to accept the uncomfortable feelings that I am having, the inevitable uncomfortable feelings that accompany something new, something strange.  I am going to accept the discomfort, befriend and explore it even, and I am going to take action in a valued direction.

For me, that means that I am going to launch my blog even though I am full of misgivings.  I am going to feel the fear and do it anyway!!

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you willing to “be ready for the strangeness and accommodate the new”?
  • Are you prepared to live with the discomfort that accompanies change?
  • Are you, like me, going to “feel the fear and do it anyway?”
  • 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

Surf

SILVER SURFING

If something new’s approaching let us not bar fast the door,

Let’s be fair and open-hearted, welcome what may lie in store,

Let’s be ready for the strangeness and accommodate the new

Let’s not scurry back to safety before we have seen it through.

If discomfort overwhelms us let’s stand strong until it fades

And relinquish scepticism and reluctance that persuades

Us to turn our back on progress, it’s too late and we’re too old,

Let’s not buy into the story that’s the oldest ever told.

For it’s not a case of number, we’re as old now as we feel

You can put a label on us but that label isn’t real,

And for everyone who’s saying that old age is full of strife,

Let us tell them we are proudly silver surfing through our life.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

 

If you enjoyed “Silver Surfing” 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 has a very special term for the excuses that we make to avoid the discomfort that goes with stepping out of our comfort zone.  That term is:

EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE

It is a term that embodies our suffering, not just once but twice.  We suffer the pain of presence and we suffer the pain of absence.  What does this mean?

Experiential avoidance is the process of trying to avoid our own experiences, our uncomfortable feelings, memories, bodily sensations, behaviours, even when doing so causes us long-term behavioural difficulties.  We don’t go to the party because we are shy and lacking in confidence, we don’t go the gym because we feel too fat or too depressed, we don’t launch a blog in case nobody visits!!

Experiential avoidance means that we suffer the presence of our uncomfortable feelings and we also suffer the pain of the absence of the things that we don’t do, the things that we avoid.  A double whammy!!

Learning to live with discomfort, to accept our uncomfortable feelings and to commit to valued action anyway is what lies at the heart of ACT.  It is what gives Acceptance Commitment Therapy its name.  It is the key to living a meaningful and valued life even in the midst of life’s challenges.

If you want to find out more about Experiential Avoidance then I recommend you dip into Steven Hayes’ wonderful book:

Worth learning how to deal with it!!!

Which leads us to the …………………………..

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………………………….

recite-1rg4z2o

If you have read this far please leave your comments.  How is ACT helping you?

I am on an ACT journey and I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne