ACT and Becoming a Hero

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – AN ONLINE RESOURCE

Q:  How can I get over my fear?

A:  Become a hero!

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.:

When we are facing difficult or unfamiliar situations it is natural to feel anxious, nervous, even afraid.  We are pre-programmed that way and it is what has kept us safe over the ages, it is how our species has survived to tell the tale.

It follows, therefore, that when we have these uncomfortable feelings, rather than trying to avoid them or deny them we would do better to acknowledge them, thank them even for trying to keep us safe, and then carry them with us as we take positive action.

ACT talks a lot about “experiential avoidance” and cites it as being a number one culprit for much that we feel goes wrong in our lives.  When we have uncomfortable feelings it is easier, much easier to use them as an excuse to avoid doing what we don’t feel like doing anyway.  Although that may make us feel better in the short term, ACT reminds us that in the longer term we are missing out two-fold.  Firstly, we don’t develop skills that would help us to tolerate and learn from internal unpleasant events, and secondly we miss out on all the good stuff we could do and the confidence we could build by doing it.

No one denies that uncomfortable feelings are unpleasant, but when we understand where they come from and why they are there we can maybe use them in a more productive way.  Using them doesn’t mean we’re losing them, but it does mean that we are not letting them stop us doing things that in the long term could make our lives richer and more meaningful.

If we can do this then bit by bit we will become more like the hero that we would like to be.

I wrote “BECOMING A HERO” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with uncomfortable feelings?
  • What strategies do you use to help you to act even when you don’t want to?
  • 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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BECOMING A HERO

 

Have we got the guts to do it, to step into the unknown?

Find the courage, if it’s needed, to move forward there alone

And be tolerant of strangeness as the customary declines,

Become a stranger in a country where we cannot read the signs.

There’s a multitude of reasons why we wash up in this place,

Some may be of our own choosing, but sometimes we’ll have to face

Situations most unwelcome we would rather far not meet,

But can we still return to where we were or is there no retreat?

And if retreating’s not an option what are we supposed to do,

Find a hidey hole to cower in and hope that help comes through,

Or can we be a little bolder, accept fear is here to stay

And if we’re going forward hand in hand it won’t get in our way.

And then despite our own misgivings we will get to make a choice,

Be like pioneers of yesteryear with reason to rejoice,

Because although the path was arduous and we were oft afraid

We learned that heroes aren’t born fearless, it is out of fear they’re made.

And so let’s treat our fear more gently, let’s not look on it with scorn,

But remember that a hero’s shaped, a hero’s not just born,

And then when fear is coursing through us we can choose how we react,

And if we want to be a hero, then despite our fear we’ll act.

© Corinne Shields, 2016

If you enjoyed, “BECOMING A HERO” 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 …..

“Experiential avoidance” is such a key concept in ACT, that it is well worth trying to get our heads around it, even though it can be quite difficult to understand, at least I found it that way!

There are plenty of great resources on-line to help and one that I enjoyed was aptly named:

“Understanding Experiential Avoidance”

The article is to be found at thecareerpsychologist.com and shows how experiential avoidance spreads its tentacles in all sorts of places.

“Experiential avoidance is so common to everyone experiencing career paralysis and yet so unheard of that it needs some closer attention.  Here’s the formal definition:

“Attempts to avoid thoughts, feelings, memories, physical sensations, and other internal experiences even when doing so creates harm in the long-run.”  Hayes, Strosahl, Wilson, 1999

If you want to read more then head over to thecareerpsychologist.com.

It makes for good reading whatever stage of our lives we are at!

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 Creating Distance

ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY (ACT) – An Online Resource

Q:  What should I do when something awful happens?

A:  Give yourself some time and space. 

John Lennon once famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, and it’s true isn’t it?

Sometimes life seems to be going so well, our plans come to fruition, we seem to be masters of our universe, we start to become complacent, and then …….

And then something happens!  Something happens to remind us that our illusion of control was just that, an illusion.  Whilst we were busy making other plans, life had other plans for us.

In the aftermath of an unforeseen, unwelcome event it is natural that our first instinctive reactions are of aversion, of alarm, of panic even.  This is not the time for action.  This is the time to give ourselves some time and space.  This is the time to allow time for the instinctive reaction to turn into a considered response.  Then it is time for action.

ACT encourages us to create this time and space.  ACT reminds us that we are not our feelings and our feelings are not us.  We are more than our feelings.  Our feelings come and go, they are only passing through.  It is not easy when we are in the throes of uncomfortable feelings but it does help if we can make that time and space to allow them to move through unimpeded, learn to watch them and get to know them instead of struggling with them or trying to change them.

I wrote the poem “BLOODIED BUT NOT BOWED” to remind me of that.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

  • How do you cope with uncomfortable feelings?
  • What do you do when something awful happens?
  • 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-the-worst-is-over

POEM FOR TODAY

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BLOODIED BUT NOT BOWED

 

Life sometimes comes to bite us, something shocks us out the blue,

‘Twas completely unexpected and we don’t know what to do,

And for now we are left reeling, feeling shaken up and so

In the midst of battles raging it is best to take it slow.

There’ll be time enough for action, but for now we need a space,

Need a place where we can settle and our feelings start to face,

Let them move around within us, unimpeded if we can,

And accept what we are feeling for our feelings we can’t ban.

Oh it’s not what we’d have wanted and our instincts make us rail,

Try to change the now unchangeable but here we’re bound to fail,

And so though feelings coursing through us are now hitting us full force

They are natural reactions, so let’s let them run their course.

And then when the worst is over, as it will be if allowed

To move through without resistance, we’ll be bloodied but not bowed,

And when the time comes to take action we’ll be far more better placed

Than if we’d fought against our feelings and our energy laid waste.

© Corinne Shields, 2015

If you enjoyed, “BLOODIED BUT NOT BOWED” 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 always like to leave the final word to ACT and so I leave you with a quotation which I found on getselfhelp.co.uk, a website which has lots of useful information.

ACT has a nifty technical term for creating distance, for making time and space, and it is one of the pillars on which Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is built.  That term is DEFUSION.

The quotation at getselfhelp.co.uk sums it up quite neatly.

“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).”

I will try to remember that the next time that Life springs a nasty surprise!

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 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

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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