ACT and Self as Context, the Observer Self

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

Q: How can I stop being overwhelmed by what happens to me?

A: Develop your Observer Self.  Remember to stop, stand back, observe.

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It can be difficult to remember that we are more than the content of our lives, to remember that there is another side, a powerful side of ourselves, that we can always access.  Self as Context, the Observer Self, is always there, always accessible, but content is powerful.  It can overwhelm us, sweep us away, have us believe that what happens to us is all that matters.

When we are embroiled in the content of our lives it is difficult to stop, stand back and observe.  Yet, this is what will make the difference.  If we want to get a wider perspective, if we want to stop reacting to everything that happens, good, bad and indifferent, then it is to Self as Context that we must turn.

ACT reminds us that we are more, much more than the content of our lives.  There is an enduring Self in all of us, an Observer Self that remains constant.  The more we access this side of ourselves, the less we will be overwhelmed by what happens to us.

It is not easy to stand up to the content of our lives, to say we won’t be pushed around by it, that we will take time to stop, stand back and observe.  In the heat of the moment it seems natural to react to what is going on, but there is power in the pause.  In that pause we can access that wiser side that is in all of us.  And that can make all the difference.

I wrote “I AM THE SEA, I CANNOT SINK” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Do you remember to stop, stand back and observe what is happening to you?
  • Are you able to make a distinction between your Self as Content and our 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

POEM FOR TODAY

 

I AM THE SEA, I CANNOT SINK

 

I am the sky and not the clouds that for a time the skies engrave,

For I remain when they have cleared, I am the ocean not the wave,

For I am here through thick and thin, and big enough to welcome in whatever’s in my path today,

So, I’ll accept it come what may.

And I’ll not occupy my mind with things it cannot understand,

The skies aren’t bothered by the clouds, and oceans care not where waves land,

And though it’s hard to comprehend this starring role in which I’m cast,

When waves and storms come crashing through, I know it’s true they will not last.

For we are so much larger than the bits of content temporary,

The clouds cannot the sky eclipse and waves cannot drown out the sea.

And so, whatever comes my way I will remember I am sky,

And though at times I am obscured, the thunderclouds will pass me by,

And though the waves may stir me up, and I’m presented with a cup I’d rather far not have to drink,

I am the sea, I cannot sink.

© Corinne Shields, 2017

If you enjoyed, “I AM THE SEA, I CANNOT SINK” 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 don’t usually recommend one of my own posts in this section but on this occasion I am going to!

I don’t find the concepts of Self as Context, the Observer Self, easy to get a handle on.  As such, it is a topic that I return to frequently.  So when I was looking for a resource to recommend here I was surprised to find one of my own posts pop up.  I’ll take that as a sign that it’s worth sharing again.

For more on Self as Context, the Observer Self, head over to actmadelyrical.com and read what I had to say back then aboutGORY LITTLE STORIES”.  I hope you enjoy it.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

How about YOU?

lf as 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 Looking for Answers – Self as Context

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

Q:  When I don’t know which way to turn, who should I turn to?

A:   Yourself.  Turn to your Self as Context.

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One of the core processes of ACT is Self as Context, and it is perhaps the most difficult to get to grips with.  Why?  Because it is a concept that is unfamiliar to many of us.  We get so embroiled in the content of our lives, the things that happen, the feelings and emotions that pass through us, that we find it difficult to get past all that to another sense of Self.

It is hard to define Self as Context in a way that makes sense to us and yet the word “sense” is a good starting point.  The word “sense” gives us a clue to what Self as Context is, and where we are likely to find it.

We get a glimpse, a sense of Self as Context, through our senses.  When we stop thinking and start sensing then we get a notion of what it’s all about.  When we are struck dumb by something awesome in Nature, we are glimpsing our Sense as Context, when we get goose-bumps or the hairs of our head stand on end we are in touching distance of our Sense as Context.  These are clues that there is this other part of ourselves.

Another way to understand our Self as Context is as that part of ourselves that is pure awareness.  When we are thinking, judging, planning, analysing, we are in our Thinking Mind.  This is not Sense as Context.  When we are caught up in the content of our lives, the stuff that comes and goes, moment by moment, day by day, we are experiencing our lives as Self as Content.  This is not Self as Context.

Self as Context is bigger than the bits of content that we experience.  When we experience our lives from the position of Self as Context our lives feel different.  We are not swept away by what happens to us because we are standing back and are able to observe it more dispassionately.  We are using our senses to just experience what is right here, right now, without judging it.  We are willing to experience it, whatever it is, just as it is.

From this viewpoint, the viewpoint of Self as Context, we are something more than what happens to us.  This is another part of our Self, and it is powerful.  The more we become aware of it, the wiser and more tranquil we will become.  It is not easy but it is so worth the effort of discovery.  What do we find there?  A wiser I.

Self as Content and Self as Context both reside in us.  If we feel overwhelmed by what is happening to us, this is the very time to try to see the bigger picture, to turn to Self as Context.  When we are looking for answers and do not know which way to turn, let’s remember Self as Context is always there.  We have many of our own answers, no-body knows us better than ourselves.

There is a Wiser I in all of us.  Its name is Self as Context.  It has seen it all before!

I wrote “A WISER I” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • Are you able to stand back from the content of your life?
  • Do you have a sense of this other side of you, this 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

POEM FOR TODAY

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A WISER I

 

Sometimes there is confusion, there is so much going on,

That we’re caught up in the maelstrom of what’s coming or what’s gone,

And for now, it’s all chaotic, and our mind’s chaotic too,

What we crave is a Director telling us what we should do.

But the truth is no Director’s going to know us well enough

To produce for us solutions, they’re not privy to the stuff

That has brought us to this juncture, where we are floundering now,

They may offer us suggestions, but they cannot tell us how

We should implement them skilful, nor how we can pick and choose

From the smorgasbord before us what we will discard or use,

And although chaos confronts us, in the end it’s good to know

That when we seek out direction we do not have far to go.

For we are our own Director, one that’s always ours to find

When we look beyond the turbulence that’s stirring up our mind,

And when we create some distance, in the spaces we will see

That beside the I demanding, there’s a wiser I in me.

© Corinne Shields, 2017

If you enjoyed, “A WISER I “ 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 …..

Perhaps because I find it the most difficult of the core processes in ACT to get a handle on, Self as Context, engages me quite a lot.

I wrote another post about it a while ago, entitled, not surprisingly,  ACT and Self as Context!  Head over and take a look if you want to learn a bit more about this most challenging but powerful of concepts.

When I feel that my own life is getting out of hand, or that I am allowing myself to be swept away by what is happening to me, the content of my life, I know that making contact with my own Self as Context will help me.  I hope it does the same for you.

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 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

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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