ACT and Childish Thinking

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE of inspirational quotes, poems and other act goodies! 

Q:  How can I cope better with troublesome thoughts?

A:  Develop a different relationship with them.

Troublesome thoughts can drive us mad, fearful thoughts can paralyse us.  How many times have our thoughts stopped us doing things we wanted to do?  How often have we woken up in a panic, heart pounding, stomach churning, hostage to a mind that is going round in circles?  We have all  been there.  We all know what it is like to be swept away by our thoughts to dark places we would far rather not visit.  What to do?  That is the question.

Well there are many ways that we can deal with our troublesome thoughts but one of the most effective for me is to adopt an ACT strategy.  ACT encourages us to develop a different relationship with our thoughts.  ACT reminds us that we are more than our thoughts, more than our feelings.  We are the thinker, we are the great story teller, we are conjuring up all these images that play out movies in our minds.

Often our automatic thoughts, our immediate reactions spring from things that have happened in childhood.  As powerless little children we developed coping strategies to survive, we internalised core beliefs from our families of origin that may or may not be helpful now.  When we have strong powerful reactions and thoughts to things that happen now, it is helpful to see if some of those reactions are products of past childish thinking that is no-longer relevant.  This means creating some distance and developing a different relationship with our thoughts.  This is helpful.

I wrote “CHILDISH THINKING” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with your troublesome thoughts?
  • Are you willing to develop a new relationship with them?
  • 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

 

POEM FOR TODAY

CHILDISH THINKING

 

It maybe hopes have faded, we are jaded, out of sorts,

And we’re troubled more than normal by those pesky little thoughts

That keep swirling round in circles ‘til our head is fit to burst,

We are desperate to do something, but don’t know what to do first.

In this instance, there’s a process we can kick-start straight away,

We can make a bit of distance, watch our pesky thoughts at play,

And remember we’re the thinker, we’re imagining it all,

And this moment of awareness means our thoughts begin to stall.

And we can go one step further, hold our thoughts now to account,

And regard them with some rigour as our fears begin to mount,

We can dig them from their hiding place and hold them to the light,

And demand of them some answers, “Are you wrong, or are you right?”

And it could be very likely that we’ll find they’re fantasy,

Just some phantoms from our past cavorting as reality,

And though we’ll honour and acknowledge them for whence they came and why,

If we’re seekers of the truth, we will not on those thoughts rely.

And then we’re ready for the next step, and it’s one that may seem strange,

As we switch from doom and gloomy thoughts to nice thoughts for a change,

And as we conjure up a picture show of shimmering success

We’re no longer sabotaging the potential we possess.

And it may seem a tall order, after all we’ve long been held

Hostage to our childish thinking, and it is not easy quelled,

But if we recognise its origin, we now have power to say,

“Whilst I thank you for your thoughts, I’m in a different place today.”

© Corinne Shields, 2017

If you enjoyed “CHILDISH THINKING 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 …..

Although not strictly speaking an ACT book, I would like to recommend Lauren Mackler’s book:

Product Details

Today’s poem, “CHILDISH THINKING” was inspired by a process she describes entitled “The Five Steps to Managing Fear”.

Sometimes you come across a book which resonates with you.  It is there at the right time and you are in the right place to appreciate it.  That is how I felt when I opened the first pages of “Solemate”.  Maybe you will enjoy it too.

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 Fear

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE of inspirational quotes, poems and other act goodies!

Q:  How can I deal with my fearful feelings better?

A:  Explore them, breathe into them!

fear-quote

Fear is generally acknowledged to be an unpleasant emotion.  Dry throat, churning stomach, sweaty palms, pounding heart etc.  And yet, these are the same sensations that we experience when we are excited.  It’s just that fear gets a bad press whilst excitement, on the whole, doesn’t.

Excitement is usually associated with something positive, fear is not.  When we are afraid it is because we are putting our own negative interpretation on an event, a future event, because fear is usually future based.  When we are excited we are generally putting a positive spin on things.

ACT encourages us to become willing to accept our internal experiences, our thoughts and feelings, in a spirit of openness and curiosity.  Rather than struggling to get rid of feelings we don’t like ACT suggests that we get to know them, where these feelings locate in our body, their size, their texture.  When we adopt this approach we are less likely to be overwhelmed by them.

Given that the body’s reaction to fear and excitement is pretty much the same, this might help us to be less judgemental, become less frightened of our fear.

I wrote “FEAR” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you react to your fearful feelings?
  • Are you willing to become less hostile to them, maybe explore them a little?
  • 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

POEM FOR TODAY

 

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FEAR

 

Oh, how we’d love to banish it, this fear that haunts us so,

Love to kick it from its hiding place, before it starts to grow,

Or to give it scant attention, should it dare to raise its head,

But it’s likely when it does so we’re consumed by it instead.

Oh, we wish that it were other, that we had the power to choose

Which sweet feelings we would cling to, and which ones we would refuse,

But our feelings are not like that, they won’t to our bidding bend,

They just spring up automatically, they’re neither foe nor friend.

And if we would learn to treat them in a different sort of way,

Become willing to receive whatever ‘tis we feel today

In a spirit of acceptance, “Here comes wonder, here comes fear,”

Then we won’t put up a struggle against what’s already here.

And then whatever we are feeling is allowed sufficient space

To achieve its true proportions, to take up its rightful place,

Not as some crass interloper who has no right to occur,

But as just another feeling, it’s just one we don’t prefer.

But it’s one we’ll welcome anyway, it’s here now after all,

And so, it’s only common courtesy when feelings come to call

To acknowledge them politely, maybe call them by their name,

“Hello fear, I may not like you, but you’re welcome all the same.”

And then when we’re not resisting, we may find to our surprise

That whatever we are feeling is somehow cut back to size,

And we can go about our business, invite fear to come along,

For when we’re finished with resisting it, then fear can make us strong.

© Corinne Shields, 2017

If you enjoyed, “FEAR” 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 …..

Two acronyms that are often used in ACT are FEAR, and its antidote ACT.

The FEAR acronym summarises core problems as stemming from:

  • Fusion with your thoughts
  • Evaluation of experience
  • Avoidance of your experience
  • Reason-giving for your behaviour

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy proposes its own acronym for how to deal with FEAR, ACT:

  • Accept your reactions and be present
  • Choose a valued direction
  • Take action

There is a very interesting article at elizabethweiss.org entitled:

“ACT Challenges the “Healthy Normality” Assumption,” which goes into more detail about how ACT can combat FEAR.  You might like to head over and check it out.

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 Flexing our Wings

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

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.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • 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.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY

And-though-the-brink-may

POEM FOR TODAY

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FLEXING OUR WINGS

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 ……………………….

Just-for-today-whateer

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

IMG_20150322_092137 

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 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 ……………………………………….

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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