ACT, its best friend COMPASSION, and EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE of inspirational quotes, poems and other act goodies!
And introducing COMPASSION, ACT’s best friend!

 

Q: What should I do with difficult feelings?

A: Learn from them!

Nobody likes difficult feelings, the ones that translate in the body as stomach upsets, aches and pains, headaches, skin complaints, constipation, diarrhoea, whatever! But there is no clearer signal that our feelings are trying to tell us something, something important.

These physical manifestations of something going on inside are our early warning systems, or more likely our repeated warning systems, our ignored warning systems. Most of us will have a weak spot in the body where our feelings gather, where they gurgle or rumble or shriek or whatever! We ignore them at our peril.

Feelings are evolution’s gift to us, although they often feel less like a blessing than a curse. When we are in danger, perceived or actual, our early warning system gets going, our physical reactions are instinctively triggered, as fight or flight hormones flood us. Feelings are the way that our body communicates with us. Without them we would be done for. Our feelings are our friends.

Human beings are programmed to move towards pleasure and away from pain. It therefore follows that when we feel unpleasant feelings we are going to instinctively want to get away from them. Being intelligent animals, we have any number of ways of doing this. We have learned to ignore them, deny them, displace them, distract them. What we have probably not learned so well is to befriend them, stay with them, explore them, learn from them.

And yet, this is what would be really intelligent. Our feelings flow through us with all sorts of useful information to help us to move more skilfully through the world. Developing a different relationship with our feelings can be the start of something wonderful.

I wrote “EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with difficult feelings?
  • Are you learning to develop a different, a more friendly relationship with your feelings?
  • 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

EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS

Let’s not deny our feelings, nor else mix them up with facts,

Let’s acknowledge our sensations, how our body now reacts,

But let’s not get into a panic if there’s something we abhor,

For we will find the more we struggle then we’ll feel the feeling more.

It’s more skilful to accept it, to explore it, get to know

Where it is within our body that our feelings tend to show,

Oh, for me it is my tummy, gastroenteritis gone berserk,

I don’t like it when it happens, but I’m learning not to shirk

Away from messages it sends me, for it has something to say,

It alerts me to a something that is going wrong today,

And though I wish that it were other, would I really wish it gone?

It’s my early warning system, which I’d miss if I had none.

And so, although we may have feelings we deem difficult to bear,

Let’s remember they alert us to the dangers everywhere,

And if we get a bit more skilful, we can learn a trick or two

To help a feeling that’s unhelpful find a way to move on through.

© Corinne Shields, 2018

If you enjoyed “EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS” 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, and its best friend COMPASSION ……..

At the heart if ACT lies Mindfulness. At the heart of Mindfulness lies Awareness, a special way of noticing what is going on internally and externally. When we are being mindful we are simply noticing what is happening in a spirit of curiosity. We are not making judgments, we are learning to be with the what is, accepting it just as it is, without wanting to change it in any way.

This is a great way to develop a new and fruitful relationship with our thoughts and feelings. When feelings arise, as they will, we just notice them, explore them, really feel what they feel like, where they are located in our body, their texture, their shape.

Likewise with our thoughts. When thoughts arise, as they will, we watch them come and we let them go. We don’t get entangled with them, make them “sticky”. ACT has the potential to help us to improve our mental health. These are some of the powerful techniques that it uses to do so.

For some lovely quotes with an ACT theme visit the ACBS website. Here’s one to both start with and leave you with.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

How about YOU?

What can YOU do just for today to ACTivate your life? What can YOU do just for today to add some Compassion, some Kindness, into your life?

 Just for today I will ………………………

If you have read this far, please do leave your comments. How is ACT helping you? Is Compassion part of your life?

I am a student of ACT, I am learning about Compassion.  I am on a journey.  I would love you to join me.

With all good wishes

Corinne

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ACT and Keeping a Cool Head

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  What should I do when my mind goes into overdrive?

A:  Be sceptical.  Remember that your Mind is a great story teller.

it-is-the-mark

When our mind goes into overdrive and thoughts start churning round this is not the time to make decisions.   When we are overwrought and becoming embroiled in our stories this is not the time to take action.  When our mind starts projecting the worst and is urging us to do something, do anything, this is not the time to give in to its demands.

At such times, and there may be many, this is the time to remember that Mind is, amongst other things, a great Story Teller.  We can, and maybe should, learn to look at it with awe;  its skills are formidable.  But as for doing what it tells us, well maybe not!

The time to take action is when the story lines are fading, when cool heads are replacing angry hearts.

I wrote “COOL HEADS” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you create distance from your angry heart?
  • How do you resist the demands of the great story teller?
  • 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-so-if-mind-is-busy

POEM FOR TODAY

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COOL HEADS

Mind starts to spin its fantasies, and we are soon in thrall

To the twists and turns it conjures up, as helplessly we fall

For the little bits of fiction that are urging us to act,

But let’s remember before acting, this is fantasy not fact.

Oh it’s hard to create distance when our stories start to spin,

When Mind’s going into overdrive ‘til everything within

Is embroiled within a story telling us what we should do,

But let the warning bells resound, this is a story, it’s not true.

There are times for taking action, preferably with a cool head,

When the story lines are fading, and we’re able to instead

Make decisions more considered based on actuality,

For an action has a consequence, it’s real not fantasy.

And so if Mind is busy spinning let’s remember it’s not real,

Amongst its many other functions Mind’s a giant spinning wheel

Which we can watch in all its glory as its stories tumble out,

But be aware a cool head’s squeezed out when a spinning wheel’s about.

And so let’s let Mind tell its stories, as it will do anyway,

But let’s remember that’s its function, and we’re not required today

To pay heed to its excesses, nor obey what it commands,

And though we may admire its skill, we need not do what it demands.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “COOL HEADS” 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 …..

It isn’t easy to defuse from unhelpful thoughts, to stand back from the riveting stories that our Mind conjures up.  And yet the more we can do this the less stressful our lives may become.

Learning that we needn’t believe everything that we think can be very liberating.  Not being held hostage by our story telling mind and not being bound to obey its sometimes outlandish demands can save us a heap of trouble.

Developing these defusion skills takes some time and effort but the benefits, in my opinion,  are well worth it.  There is a great article at getselfhelp.co.uk entitled:

DEFUSING TECHNIQUES

DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK!

It explains how:

“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).”

The article outlines some really good strategies for developing defusion skills.  I really enjoyed it.

ACTivation Point!

SO ……………………….

 

just-for-today-when-stories-spin

 

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

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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