ACT and Self as Context

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I cope with turbulent events?

A:  See them from the viewpoint of Self as Context

awareness

The concept of “Self as Context” can be difficult to understand.  We are so used to thinking of ourselves as just who we think we are, a composite of complicated thoughts and feelings, that trying to get a handle of ourselves as something bigger, something more, is really challenging.

And yet we are something more.  There is more to us than our thoughts and our feelings.  Thoughts and feelings come and go but we are still here.  We were here at the beginning and we will be there at the end.  There is a part of us that is nothing to do with the thinking mind, there is a part of us that is pure awareness. The more time we spend with that part of us the more expanded we become, and not in the physical sense!

How do we do that?  Well we do have a key.  The key that opens the door to Self as Context is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is integral to ACT and ACT is integral to Mindfulness. The more we develop our Mindfulness Skills the more adept we will become in the developing the psychological flexibility that lies at the heart of ACT.  The two go together.

I wrote “SELF AS CONTEXT” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you making Mindfulness a part of your life?
  • Are you able to get a sense of yourself as “Self as Context“?
  • 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

self as context

POEM FOR TODAY

file000292992617

SELF AS CONTEXT

 

At times of great upheaval when we’re feeling turned and tossed

It is hard to be accepting of a something that we’ve lost,

And when the world outside our window seems a strange and foreign place

Then these times of great upheaval can be difficult to face.

It may be at such a moment we should strive to solace find,

Maybe focus on the breath to give some respite to the mind,

And begin to stretch awareness, bring our senses into play,

We are more than just our thoughts so let’s explore that more today.

Let us see our Self as Context, like the ocean, like the sky,

View these turbulent events as waves and clouds just passing by,

Whilst we’ll still be here tomorrow, as we were just yesterday,

Such a focus isn’t easy but it can be ours today

If we see our Self as constant, the I am who will remain

When the storm has done its worst and we’ve survived the hurricane,

For though events may come to shake us they are only temporary,

And if we see our Self as Context, they’re just waves whilst we’re the sea.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “SELF AS CONTEXT” 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 …..

For a very clear overview of ACT and Mindfulness you might like to head over to getselfhelp.co.uk.

There is a very good section on Mindfulness of Emotions which I found particularly helpful.  It reminds us that:

“We often start to learn mindfulness skills by focusing our attention on our breath, our bodies, the environment or activities.  We can practice being mindful, and eventually, we can learn to start being mindful of emotions.

Being mindful of emotions helps us to stand back from the emotion, understand it, accept it, not to fear it or struggle against it, and it can have the added benefit of reducing the distress (although the aim is to learn to accept the experience, rather than lessen the distress.”

What follows is a suggestion for how to explore emotions mindfully.

Turbulent events trigger turbulent emotions.  Learning to deal with them more skilfully can only be a good thing.  Mindfulness offers us that alternative.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

thinking mind

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 Valued Action

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What can I do when I’m feeling fed up?

A:   Do something meaningful!

Taking action when we don’t feel like it is at the very heart of ACT.  In fact it is so central to it that it gives it its very name.

ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is about just that.  Accepting what we cannot change and committing to take an action in line with our values is what this Therapy is all about.

In order to change our lives for the better, in order to bring about meaningful change, ACT encourages us to develop a different relationship with our thoughts and feelings.  When we start living our lives based on our values rather than our moods things start to improve.  Why?

Because when we see ourselves as more than our thoughts and our feelings we can make some space, what ACT calls Defusion, and watch our thoughts come and go.  Defusion frees us up to do things that are important to us.  This is what will help us to create a meaningful life, so that when we look back there will be something to see.

I wrote “SOMETHING TO SEE” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you learning to turn to your values rather than letting fleeting moods dictate your day?
  • What defusion techniques do you find helpful?
  • 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

When-lifetimes-are

POEM FOR TODAY

treasure hunting 3

SOMETHING TO SEE

When lifetimes are ending and years are lived through

We won’t ask how we felt, we’ll ask, “What did we do?”

What activities flourished, what did we achieve?

Did we make any difference, give more than receive?

Oh our feelings are with us each step of the way,

But did they know their place or were they holding sway,

Did we learn to live with them, take them in our stride?

Or did we let them rule us and push us aside?

If we’re asking these questions it isn’t too late

To establish new orders, re-negotiate,

And decide from now on we won’t be shoved along

By a feeling that’s fleeting, no matter how strong.

For a feeling is flimsy whilst action is real,

We can choose what to do, we can’t choose how to feel,

And a lifetime of action has something to show

Whilst a lifetime of feeling is lived in limbo.

So let’s look for an action and do it right now,

Irrespective of feelings let’s act anyhow,

For we find when we’re living life more flexibly

That when we’re looking back there is something to see.

 © Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “SOMETHING TO SEE” 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 …..

Acting when we don’t feel like it isn’t easy and it isn’t guaranteed to make us feel better.  What it is guaranteed to do, however, is to help us to build a more meaningful life.  Meaningful lives are built on meaningful actions not fleeting feelings, and though we can’t choose how we feel, that is beyond us, we can choose what we do.

Having and exercising that choice is a great boon.  It helps us to spring the trap of difficult feelings that can rob us of our joy.  It is the beginning of freedom.

For more on the benefits of the psychological flexibility that is at the heart of ACT I enjoyed an article at harleytherapy.co.uk.

It can be difficult to understand what psychological flexibility is and isn’t and I particularly liked their explanation.

Perhaps an easy way to understand what psychological flexibility is, is to first look at what it is not. 

The main contributors to psychological inflexibility are:

  • living in the past or the future instead of the present moment
  • being “stuck” and unable to let go of thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and sensations that cause suffering (called being ‘fused’ to them)
  • always trying to avoid your unpleasant thoughts, memories, and feelings, hoping that they will, somehow, go away
  • being addicted to an idea of yourself, or ‘self-concept’, always telling the same stories about yourself and your life
  • not being aware of your personal values
  • patterns of behaviour that keep all of the above going

Source: http://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/what-is-acceptance-and-commitment-therapy.htm#ixzz48Kke0b5H

It’s a great website with lots of useful information and resources.  I shall visit often.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-I-will decide to take

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

IMGP3782

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 Compassion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I be more positive towards ???

A:  Show a bit of compassion

ACT is about many things but at its heart it is always about personal growth.

All the things we learn in ACT, Mindfulness, Values Work, Defusion Techniques, Acceptance, Committed Action, Self as Context, they are all helping us to develop the psychological flexibility which will help us lead more meaningful lives, even in the face of life’s challenges.

Learning to show compassion, to ourselves and to others, is one of the most effective tools that we have in our kit-box.  Compassion is soft and strong at the same time.  It is very powerful.  If we are fearful, defensive, anxious, then a bit of compassion can work wonders.

I wrote “A BIT OF COMPASSION” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How good are you at showing compassion?
  • Have you discovered the benefits of compassion?
  • 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

If-were-in-the-business

POEM FOR TODAY

 

IMG_4105

A BIT OF COMPASSION

A bit of compassion would not come amiss,

‘Stead of acting defensive we could first try this,

We could set aside prejudice, kindness impart,

And find out what it feels like to open our heart.

If we’re used to reacting in a certain way,

Maybe Mind senses trouble and says, “Stay away!”

Then it’s likely we’ve laid down a habit or two

Which precludes being kind as a something we do.

And that means we don’t know how we’d feel if we said,

“Thank you Mind, but today I’ll try kindness instead,

For I’ve seen how on others this kindness bestows

A great aura of warmth which then glows as it grows.”

And we’ve all seen the saints passing goodness around,

Maybe thought that such saints are too thin on the ground,

Not believed that we’re part of that army of good,

But we all have a chance to do good and we should.

Not for reasons of duty, that’s hard and it’s cold,

But to share in the secret a smile can unfold,

For if we’re in the business of personal growth

Then a bit of compassion is good for us both.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “A BIT OF COMPASSION” 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 are interested in learning more about ACT and Compassion this book looks like a great read.

The book description certainly whets the appetite.

About the Book

“Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is proven effective in the treatment of an array of disorders, including addiction, depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and more. Evidence shows that mindfulness and acceptance exercises help clients connect with the moment, uncover their true values, and commit to positive change. But did you know that compassion focused exercises can also greatly increase clients’ psychological flexibility?

More and more, therapists are finding that the act of compassion-both towards oneself and towards others-can lead to greater emotional and physical well-being, increased distress tolerance, and a broader range of effective responses to stressful situations. One of the best advantages of compassion focused methods is how easily they can be integrated into an ACT approach.”

This is the first book on the market to provide an in-depth discussion of compassion in the context of ACT and other behavioural sciences.  If you, like me, believe in the benefits of compassion, it is great to see it being incorporated into ACT.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

Just-for-today-Im-going to show

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

H8bccJ84

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 Thought Defusion

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q: How can I get rid of troublesome thoughts?

A: You can’t, but you can learn to look at them differently.

Thought Defusion is another pillar-stone of ACT.  Learning to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to distance ourselves from our thinking is one of the key skills that we can learn to reduce our suffering.  For yes, we do cause a lot of our own suffering.

Sometimes our suffering comes to us from external events that we cannot change.  That suffering is part of the human condition.  Learning to accept it as such, as a natural part of human experience, is another dimension of ACT.

However, for now we are talking about our thinking, and how our thoughts can, and often do cause us to suffer.  Learning a different way to respond to our thoughts, what ACT calls Thought Defusion can be very helpful.

In a previous post, ACT and Worrisome Thoughts, we saw how our mind has evolved to err on the side of caution, to look for the negatives and to be on constant red alert.  This is the mind’s natural default position, if you like, and it is like that for a reason.  In evolutionary terms this kind of cautious mind helped us to sniff out danger and survive.  It is this mind-set that 21st century man has inherited, and sometimes it causes us problems.

One of the main aims of ACT is to help us to develop psychological flexibility so that we can learn to respond to the world, both external and internal, in more helpful and meaningful ways.  Thought Defusion is one of the tools that we can use to increase our psychological flexibility.

Most of us take our thoughts far too seriously.  I know I do!  I tend to think that because I am thinking something it must be important, it must be true and I must pay it a lot of attention!  None of that is necessarily the case.  ACT isn’t so much interested in whether a thought is true or false or right or wrong.  ACT is more interested in whether or not a thought is useful or not, or in ACT terms is it workable?  If it is hang on to it, if not let it go.

It helps me to remember that a thought is just a thought.  It is just a string of words, and I have made them up.  I am not my thoughts.  My thoughts are not me.  I had a lot of trouble with this, I can tell you, but learning to distance myself from my thoughts, to see that I am the thinker and not the thought has helped me a lot.

TIP FOR TODAY!

 

Our-thoughts-are-only2

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with troublesome thoughts?
  • Can you create distance from your thoughts and see them as just bits of content passing through?
  • 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

file0001045042240

STRINGS OF WORDS

It comes from out of nowhere, it’s the thought we like the least,

It’s the one that most torments us, and once it has been released

It is spiralling within us, a freak storm out of control,

And we’re overcome with anguish as it seeps into our soul.

Where it comes from doesn’t matter, but the old familiar ring

Sets up the old familiar struggle, but it’s here now that’s the thing,

And we’re learning that the struggle doesn’t help us much at all,

It’s just fuel for the thinking we are trying to forestall.

And so let’s try another tactic, for we’re told another way

To respond to stinking thinking is to let it have its day

And be willing to accept it whilst it’s here, just as it is,

Maybe look at it with interest without getting in a tizz.

And it maybe that the thinking that disturbs us will abate,

Or maybe we’ll have to let it be and learn to tolerate

The discomfort it occasions, well we can do that you know

If we make a space inside and let our thoughts just come and go.

And we needn’t make them sticky, we need not with them engage,

We can stop the feeding frenzy that occurs when war we wage,

And we needn’t make them magical with powers from afar,

For our thoughts are only strings of words and that is all they are.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

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

And just before you go …..

A final word from ACT ……….

ACT suggests lots of techniques for helping us to defuse from our thoughts.  Some of them may seem outlandish, but if they work for you that’s all that matters. Amongst the more wacky ones are:

  • Singing a thought out loud to one of these well-known tunes

Happy Birthday

She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain

Jingle Bells

 

  • Saying the thought in the voice of someone famous, or a cartoon character like

Donald Duck

Homer Simpson

The idea behind these techniques is to try to take the sting out of our thoughts, to reduce them to just the bits of language that they are.  When we have difficult, troublesome thoughts it helps to notice how we verbalise these thoughts to ourselves.  I know when I am having these kinds of thoughts I am verbalising them to myself in a very dark and macabre way.  I am literally scaring myself to death.

If you take the same thought, the same words, and start singing it to Happy Birthday, and I have done that, the thought doesn’t seem nearly as frightening or important.  Try it and see, preferably not in public!!

For more Thought Defusion techniques Oliver, Hill ad Morris’ book

Product Details

is very illuminating, and has lots of useful worksheets. I am reading it at the moment and really enjoying it.

Which brings us to the……

ACTivation POINT!

SO …………………………..

Just-for-today-my thoughts

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