ACT and Thinkers and Thoughts

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I develop a better relationship with my thoughts?

A:  Remember, you are the thinker not the thought.

If we needed reminding that, “We are the Thinker, not the Thought”, then Rodin’s wonderful sculpture, “The Thinker”, should do the trick!

When I first discovered ACT I can remember the Tutor saying this to the group, and at the time I did not get it at all.

I was so fused with my stories, with my thoughts, that I couldn’t understand that my thoughts weren’t necessarily true, not necessarily very important even.  To me my thoughts were very definitely true and important.  I was thinking them and so they must be!  I took my thoughts very seriously.

It took a long time for me to come to grips with the idea of a distinction between me, the Thinker, and the thoughts that I created.

These are not easy concepts and at times I still fuse with my thoughts and stories.  When I do that I know that I am in trouble.  That’s when the Thought Defusion Techniques of ACT are so important.

I wrote “THE THINKER NOT THE THOUGHT” to remind me not to take my thoughts so seriously.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Do you take your thoughts too seriously?
  • Can you make a distinction between The Thinker and the Thought?
  • 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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THE THINKER NOT THE THOUGHT

Let’s remember it’s our thinking causes problems, that’s a fact,

But let’s not fall into the trap of thinking thoughts we think are facts,

For they are only our imaginings, and every mind will know

It’s the thinker not the thoughts themselves that really run the show.

It’s so easy to confuse it, to believe our thoughts are true,

But they’re only bits of language, strings of words just passing through,

And it helps if we can label them, these stories we conceive,

Until they lose a bit of impact, we’re becoming less naïve.

For when we see ourselves as thinkers we’re less likely to succumb

To the thoughts that we are thinking, we can watch them as they come

And then go, if we will let them, just like leaves upon a stream,

And we’re not caught up in their eddies, we know thoughts aren’t all they seem.

So we can choose to treat them differently, detach as they float by

For now we have a fresh perspective with our skilful thinker’s eye,

And we are free to spring the thinking trap in which we once were caught

Because we’ve stumbled on the secret, we’re the thinker not the thought.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

 If you enjoyed, “THE THINKER NOT THE THOUGHT” 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 …..

Moving on from the Thinker and the Thought , ACT also introduces the concepts of the Thinking Self and the Observer Self.  These are not easy concepts to understand, and yet they lie at the heart of ACT.

This is the explanation that Oliver, Hill and Morris give in their book:

“In ACT, we talk about our “Thinking Self”, Self as Content,  and our “Observing Self”, Self as Context.  The Thinking Self is that constant stream of thoughts and images that runs through our minds, almost every moment we are awake; the Observing Self is the place from which we notice all that mind-stuff, as well as every other part of our experience – both the world inside us and the world outside.”

There are different metaphors that ACT uses to try to convey the distinction.  The leaves on the stream, the waves on the sea, the clouds floating across the sky.

When we can see our thoughts as bits of content passing through we will not be so attached to them.   We will be able to stand back and watch them come and go without getting so worked up.

Just as the stream is not bothered by a few leaves or the sea pays little attention to the antics of a few waves or the sky does not get into a lather about a few clouds, we too can be more relaxed about a few thoughts.  We are bigger than our thoughts.  We are the stream, the sea, the sky.  We are Self as Context.

If you want to find out more about Self as Context then check out Russ Harris’ book

Product Details

This is a brilliant book from one of the leading trainers and authors of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Russ Harris has the knack of making even complex concepts seem simple and understandable.  A great read for beginners and more experienced practitioners alike.

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

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ACT and FEELINGS

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I deal with my feelings?

A:  Let them come and go

ACT recognises that we have little control over our feelings.  Our feelings come and our feelings go, if we will let them.  Too often we hang on to our feelings, particularly our uncomfortable feelings.

Why we do this is a mystery isn’t it?  Why would we willingly hang on to feelings that hurt us when we could let them go?  Why would we deliberately think thoughts that cause us suffering when we could make a space, watch our thinking mind at work and recognise that we are not our thoughts, we are not our feelings.  They are a part of us, but only a part.  We are much more than our thoughts, much more than our feelings.

ACT encourages us to make that space so that we can defuse, defuse from our thoughts, defuse from our feelings.  If we reach a point where we can detach from our thoughts and our feelings we are making progress.  If we reach a point where we refuse to be defined by our feelings we are on the road to freedom.

When we look back on our lives it won’t be how we felt so much as what we did that will be important.  This is what ACT is all about.  Acting in spite of how we are feeling, not letting how we feel determine what we do.

I wrote “FEELINGS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you deal with your feelings?
  • What do you do to ensure that difficult feelings don’t stop you from taking action?
  • 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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FEELINGS

Let’s not be defined by our feelings, because feelings will just come and go,

So when one or another comes knocking, let’s be friendly and bid it hello,

And let’s make it a space at the table, for that’s what any good host would do,

But let’s not press it stay any longer, when it says it is just passing through.

For our feelings come by in procession, we can watch as they’re strutting their stuff,

Here comes fear who can make us feel weary, then there’s joy and we can’t get enough,

And it’s best that we stand back a little, realise they’re not meant to stay long,

Every day if we leave the door open, then our feelings can just move along.

For who wants to get stuck in a corner with a bore who just keeps droning on,

Maybe we need a gentle reminder it’s high time that this feeling was gone,

For no-one like to outstay their welcome so let’s give one another some space,

Then when feelings are ready to leave us, we can bid them goodbye with good grace.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

 If you enjoyed, “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 …..

I know how difficult it can be to defuse from difficult feelings and not let them dictate what we do.  One of the main benefits of ACT to my mind is the importance it attaches to defusion.

“Defusion involves distancing, disconnecting or seeing thoughts and feelings for what they are (streams of words, passing sensations), not what they say they are (dangers or facts).”

If you want to learn more about Defusion Techniques check out

getselfhelp.co.uk

There are some great examples of metaphors that help us to see things differently.

Passengers on the Bus, Playground Bully, The River, The Beach Ball …….

They all help us to understand thoughts and emotions in a different way.  If you are having trouble with troublesome thoughts and emotions give them a try.

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