green wall with pink word "breathe"

In the last post, one of the techniques of CBT was explored and I listed some questions that you can use to counter your negative automatic thoughts. Alternatively, some people like to use more mindful or acceptance based strategies; This is where Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT can be effective.

One of the tenets of ACT is that as we learn to accept that negative thoughts will always be there, in some form or the other, we can actually defuse from them, allowing them less power over our perception and behaviour. Russ Harris explains this as the “Radio Doom and Gloom” metaphor where he asks us to imagine we have been in the grocery store for a while, but JUST noticed that there is music playing. It was always there, but for a while, we were busy deciding which cheese to buy (there are so many options!), and didn’t hear it. Harris proposes that we can do the same with our thoughts when we are engaged in value-driven behaviour or mindfulness.

What does defusion look like when the thoughts creep in?

It can take many forms:

Grounding and/or breathing exercises

Starting sentences with “I’m noticing that I’m having the thought that….”

Thanking your mind for bringing these thoughts to your attentionWriting the thought down on a post-it and putting it in your pocket

Imagine your thoughts as leaves on a calm stream, coming and going gently

You may even decide to REALLY get into the thought and ask “if I follow through with this/believe this, what’s likely to happen? How will I feel? Does this work for me? Does it move me toward or away from my values?” 

If it moves you toward your goals – GREAT! It’s not a problem! But if it moves you away – it’s time to defuse!

If acceptance sounds like a route you’d like to take when facing tough thoughts, check out some of the additional resources linked below. I’ve included a short video where Russ Harris explains the Radio Doom and Gloom exercise in detail. 

Radio Doom and Gloom

Free Resources from Russ Harris' Website

The Struggle Switch - Russ Harris

Katie Mastromattei

Katie Mastromattei

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