Tag Archives: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

面对焦虑

焦虑就像一只老虎,你为了避开它,减少它可能对你造成的伤害,你给了它一块肉,希望它吃了肉可以离开。是的,它可能离开一会儿,可是,猜一猜,给了它那块肉以后,它真的不再回来了吗?可能一两个小时,可能一两天,这回它又饿了,可能更饿了,更强大,要更多更大块的肉。

焦虑也一样,你越是逃避它害怕它,越是为了它作出不必要的牺牲(害怕在社交场合被拒绝,干脆不去参加舞会;担心无法把工作做好,花更多的时间在担心而不是完成工作,甚至最后真的无法完成),它下一次再出现,只会变得更强烈,让你更不舒服、更恐惧、更害怕。

可是如果你选择和焦虑处在一起,它固然让你感到不舒服,但它并不危险,一段时间后,你的焦虑感会开始下降,下次再面临一样的处境,你也不再那么焦虑,即使还是有一定程度的焦虑,你的头脑也能告诉你,基于上次相处的经验,其实这个焦虑感可能让你感到不舒服,但它并不危险,你并不用逃避它。

那不逃避,就是怎么做呢?如何直接面对它呢?如何接受情绪呢?首先告诉自己,这感觉可能让你感到不舒服,但是它不会对你造成伤害。你可以感受一下它处于身体的哪个部分,比如胸口闷闷地,颈项后方有点紧、心跳有点快、或肚子有些不舒服等,识别它们,并容许、允许它们存在于那里,就像一个朋友带了一个你不太喜欢的客人来到你家一起聚餐,但你并不因此把他赶走,或者为了他一个人,不去招待其他客人,你还是允许他的存在,继续享受你的聚餐、继续做你想做的事。对任何情绪,其实都一样,都可以这么做。

Words can change everything

Try this simple exercise below:

  1. Firstly, think about a snack that you love eating. Write it down. Make sure the words that you use do describe the taste and scent of the snack.
  2. Spend some time to imagine how it feels like when you are salivating, pay attention to how the saliva tastes like, the smoothness at the back of the teeth. Now, think about what happens to the saliva when you eat this snack and digest it. Please write down your feelings and thoughts during salivating.
  3. Now, imagine there is a clean drinking glass in front of you, you split the saliva into the glass. Now, imagine you are drinking the saliva. Please write down your thoughts and feelings.
  4. Finally, imagine your favourite snack is right in front of you now, you are ready to eat it. But before you eat it, you spit some saliva on the snack. Do you still want to eat the snack? When you imagine eating this snack (with saliva spat), please write down your thoughts and feelings.

This is one of the famous ACT exercises, most people get the “effects” when they did this for the first time. Do you realize how words and language can change your feelings? And at any time, most of your thoughts are constructed by words, how often our experience are affected and changed by those words in our daily lives? Can you imagine if there isn’t languages? What happens to our thoughts and our struggle with thoughts if there weren’t any words and languages? Can you see a way of gaining some distance from your thoughts (from those words) instead of being fused in them, believing them 100%?

Self-Hypnosis & De-Hypnosis

催眠 (hypnosis) 与去催眠化 (dehypnosis)

开始前,先说说关于英文 “dehypnosis” 这个字的翻译,让我纠结了好一下的一个词。面对广大群众,其实我会偏好"反催眠"(听起来比较酷?!),但却也因为"反",它带有误导性,感觉像是抵抗被催眠,阻止人家给你催眠,阻止自己接受催眠师的任何暗示*?所以我还是选了"去催眠化"。

所谓催眠,就是集中注意力,去关注一个"单一"的想法(或主意,画面,感觉等),比如提升自信的想法,在演讲过程中轻松自在的表现的想法,看见巧克力的时候可以抵抗把它放进嘴巴的画面,把疼痛想象成柔和的颜色逐渐消失散去的画面,看见心爱的女神可以坦然自信的画面等等。在这过程中,你全神关注。

所以每一天,我们都在给自己催眠而不自知。比如驾车回家途中,想起今早会议的情况;洗澡的时候,想起刚刚和老婆吵架的画面;并久久沉浸在这些画面里。你被自己[短暂的]催眠了。

那怎么个"去催眠"呢?简单来说,就是认知行为疗法(CBT)里的认知解离/认知距离化(cognitive defusion, cognitive distancing)。注意到自己沉浸在这些想法里了,注意"这些想法就只是想法,它不是事实!"让自己走出来,反催眠自己(看吧,"反催眠"是比较适用的)。这也是我最爱的接受与承诺疗法(ACT)的提倡之一--改变自己和想法的关系,而不是改变想法本身(因为为了改变一个想法,你可能更关注它,更沉浸纠结其中,最后更痛苦!)。

大多时候,我们的目标,是多给自己催眠于自信、积极、正面的想法**,去催眠自己消极,负面的部分,这包括回忆痛苦的过去,和对未来的担心和焦虑,让自己可以真正的活在当下!

*如果你想问,那怎么做到"抵抗被催眠,阻止人家给你催眠,阻止自己接受催眠师的任何暗示"?那还不简单,人家说的话,你都别相信,他要你干嘛,你偏不干嘛,那他怎么能给你催眠?

**当然首先必须能够解离认知,而且不过于沉溺于正面积极的情绪(毕竟正面或负面,它都是生活的一部分,都让我们的生命更完整)

N.B. 配合8月我会到北京参加心理学家大会,用中文写了这篇"催眠与去催眠化",非常非常基本的概念,往后会深入写些实用技巧。

Introducing “The Happiness Trap”

by Russ Harris

by Dr. Russ Harris

I completed this book in 2014. It was bought at Popular Bookstore at the price of RM34.90 (before 10% off for members). Just thought it’s really a good basic and entry book to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that I’ve been mentioning everywhere in my blog, also an easy read, and the chapters are really short. It definitely gives a grasp and basic concepts of ACT, using metaphors (so it can be a bit like reading stories!).

I’ve introduced and lent it to non-psychology backgrounds readers. What I realized is that they can usually get the ideas and benefit from them, but they don’t really know how to practice these concepts in real life (how to accept? how to defuse from my thought? etc). So if you get the ideas and are liking ACT after reading this book (just like me), you shall take a look at “Getting out of your mind and into your life: The new ACT.”

Introducing “Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy”

Got this book from Kinokuniya, Kuala Lumpur in September 2015 (RM101.84).

By Steven C. Hayes

By Steven C. Hayes

I’ve been mentioning a lot about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, see here for all the related posts), now finally, it’s an ACT workbook.

It’s written for the general public (especially those with pain and suffering), hence considerably readable though a lot of times it may go against your common sense. It talks about human suffering (why do we suffer? If we don’t struggle with the pain, is it still pain?), why and how language leads to suffering (do the birds or dogs think that they’re suffering? Or do they just feel it?), “experiential avoidance”, acceptance and willingness (how?!!), being the observing self (I really like getting in touch with my observing self, this is something that I tried to explain to my sister when we were much younger, it was a struggle because we didn’t have a term for it back then, but she got me), values (life direction) and committed action etc.

This is a workbook so there are plenty of exercises (meditation, mindfulness, getting detached from your thoughts/feelings, letting go, metaphors etc) in it, you will almost definitely find some that you like and some that you don’t quite like.

I’d recommend it to anyone, and especially to stick to and really hands on the exercises and practices (otherwise there’s no point to just “read” a workbook). If you have some suffering/pain that you’ve really been struggling with in your life (or in your mind, in a sense), it seems easier for you to practice the workbook. Nevertheless, if you’re like me – thinking you’re fine in general – it’d still be beneficial to go through and work on it.

Watch Your Thought Come and Go

Meditation Exercise: Leaves on the stream (by far my favourite and what I practice most)

This is an eye-closed exercise. First read the instructions and then when you are sure you understand them, close your eyes and do the exercise. (Or you can use the recordings at the end of this post)

Imagine a beautiful slow-moving stream. The water flows over rocks, around trees, descends down-hill, and travels through a valley. Once in a while, a big leaf drops into the stream and floats away down the river. Imagine you are sitting beside that stream on a warm, sunny day, watching the leaves float by.

Now become conscious of your thoughts. Each time a thought pops into your head, imagine that it is written on one of those leaves. If you think in words, put them on the leaf as words. If you think in images, put them on the leaf as an image. The goal is to stay beside the stream and allow the leaves on the stream to keep flowing by. Don’t try to make the stream go faster or slower; don’t try to change what shows up on the leaves in any way. If the leaves disappear, or if you mentally go somewhere else, or if you find that you are in the stream or on a leaf, just stop and notice that this happened. File that knowledge away and then once again return to the stream, watch a thought come into your mind, write it on a leaf, and let the leaf float away down the stream.

(It doesn’t matter how vivid or clear the imagery is, as long as the concept is there, that you notice your thoughts, and let go of your thoughts once you notice them)

Continue doing this for at least 5 minutes. If the instructions are clear to you now, go ahead and close your eyes and do the exercise.

(Continuing reading AFTER the exercise)

You can think of the moments when the stream wouldn’t flow as moments of cognitive fusion, while the moments when the stream does flow are moments of cognitive defusion. Many times we become fused to a thought without even being aware of it. Thoughts about this exercise can be especially “sticky”. If you thought “I’m not doing this right” or “this exercise doesn’t work for me,” these too are thoughts that you may become fused to quite easily. In many cases, you may not even notice them as thoughts. Other particularly sticky thoughts are emotional thoughts, comparative ones, and temporal or causal ones.

A recording of the exercise in English (starts after 5 seconds):

Leaves on the stream - 12 minutes

Leaves on the stream – 11 minutes (starts quicker, less guidance towards the end)

A recording of the exercise in Mandarin: 

“河流上的飘叶”录音I

“河流上的飘叶”录音II

(类似的内容,只是前面的指示稍微不同;5-6秒后指示才开始)