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

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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 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

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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 Comfort Zones

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: What’s so wrong with comfort zones?

A: A comfort zones’s a prison if it’s one we have outgrown

Oh how we love our comfort zones.  After all they are so comfortable, so reassuring, so predictable. We know where we are, there are no surprises. Oh yes, we do venture out sometimes but it is always nice to know that if the going gets tough we can retreat to the old familiar. Taking chances, exploring the unknown, risking failure may not come easily to some of us. So we decide it’s better not to try. We miss opportunities, our lives get smaller.

Sometimes though, something happens unexpectedly and, like it or not, we are unceremoniously turfed out of our comfort zone and that can be extremely uncomfortable. There may be no way back or, even if there is, it may be that the comfort zone just isn’t comfortable anymore. A comfort zone once breached is never the same.

In ACT terms comfort zones are pretty dangerous. Change is the stuff of life and it doesn’t do to get too comfortable, too complacent. We are all likely to get turfed out of our comfort zones sooner or later. Being human it goes with the territory. How we deal with it, ah that’s the thing. In ACT we are encouraged to accept the uncomfortable feelings that inevitably accompany change as being natural and normal. We are encouraged to step out of our comfort zones. This is how we create a vital, rich and meaningful life.

How about you?

  • How do you feel about comfort zones?
  • How do they operate in your life?
  • What can you share that might be of help to others?

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

POEM FOR TODAY

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COMFORT ZONES

Maybe we’re on the brink of an exciting sort of thing

We can feel our brains start buzzing and a hum is happening

We catch glimpses of a future full of promise clear and bright

‘Til a little whisper warns us that things may not turn out right.

It’s the dampener we’re used to, the doom merchant we know well,

How he loves to pour cold water and to sound the warning bell

To remind us that excitement is a risky route to take,

Heaven knows we might fail, God forbid make a mistake.

So it’s easy to be thwarted, it is simpler to retreat,

To take comfort in a comfort zone than hazard a defeat

And for a while we’re spared those feelings that accompany the unknown,

But a comfort zone’s a prison if it’s one that we’ve outgrown.

And so the next time we are starting an exciting kind of thing

And we feel our brains start buzzing and a hum is happening

Let’s resist that old doom merchant and refuse him to appease,

Because we can’t know what will happen ‘til that risk we’ve dared to seize.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed “COMFORT ZONES” 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

Russ Harris is one of my favourite ACT authors. He has many best-sellers to his name and has been instrumental in making ACT accessible to the mass market. “The Happiness Trap” is perhaps his best known book and rightly so. It is wonderfully entertaining and gives the reader a comprehensive overview of Acceptance Commitment Therapy.

However, it is “The Reality Slap” that I found personally the most illuminating. Russ Harris tells his own story and how a personal trauma turfed him, an ACT guru, unceremoniously out of his own comfort zone. What happened next inspired the book and I recommend it to you.  It is a wonderful read.

Product Details

Bad things do happen to good people, life does rear up and slap us in the face and comfort zones, in the end, do turn out to be precarious, so best not to get too comfortable!

Which leads us to the ……

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………

 

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If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. I would love to hear from you.

I am a student of ACT. I am on a journey. I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes.

Corinne