Tag Archives: Acceptance

Is being positive that good?

Not related to the topic, you may skip this: This is the 100th post! And my site is now over 2 years old!  :)

I came across this website few months back, and I’d really been too busy to write any quality post. It’s in Chinese, but don’t worry if you can’t read Chinese, because I’m going to briefly talk about what it’s about…

I remember a Buddhist friend once told me that Buddhism is nothing about being positive and all good, but accepting who you really are and how things really are. In the website, the Japanese psychiatrist consultant has found that people who get depressed are mainly those who had been overly optimistic and positive.

So telling people to be positive, to stop thinking negatively, to do things that make them happy and feel positive. This is what we all have been doing.

“Don’t be sad!” “Don’t be disappointed!”

“Let’s do some exercise! You’d feel better”

“Come on! Be positive! It’s going to be fine!”

“Just ignore the bad feelings. Let’s get a drink!”

“You need to learn to be more optimistic and see the good side of things” etc etc

I’m sure it helps some times. Some clients did report to me that they felt better after sports games or exercise.

I always say that I’m really not one who would support Positive Psychology or anything like that. I don’t really know what it’s about (sorry!), but from what it’s called, it’s not something that seems likely to work to me (more like repression or denial?).

If you have been reading my blog, you’d know that I learnt and practiced ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), where we see positives and negatives are almost equally likely to happen in our lives, and so we accept them, live with them, in accordance to our values.

Related ACT posts on huibee.com:

Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting?

Can you control your thoughts and feelings?

Little Activities on Mindfulness & Acceptance

More on ACT coming soon. 

Learning Psychological Flexibility since Young

Our education taught us to work so hard to​ score 96 on maths, 95 on Chinese, 100 on moral, 90 on science etc. On top of that, it’s very common in Asian countries that children are​ sent to tuition classes, music, art​, martial art​ classes etc.

We’re a generation with blessings​(?)​, nothing much to worry about, parents,​ teachers, or the government will plan the route and do the worries for us, what’s better, problems are solved before we even​ realised it.

But what if we fall? Fall so badly​?​ ​Being in big trouble? Facing major life challenges?

​Sometimes we read in the news – A teenager of 17 years old committed suicide because “my girlfriend wants to breakup with me, life is meaningless”, the other one because she is one A short to make it a straight As in SPM. We see depression, mood swing, anxiety-related problems, OCD, insomnia in younger and younger age. We thought they are supposed to be having fun at that age​, but they don’t seem to be able to have fun?!

​Why never we learnt psychological flexibility since young? Why the environment was never created to learn that since young? Why English, Maths, Science, (even) Moral, Volley ball, etc, but never about how to bounce back, how to be emotionally resilient? ​Or in other words, how to stand up when we fall? Why for over 10 years we’ve been attending schools and universities, but the educational system never taught us this?

Prevention is better than cure, but we aren’t even preventing the happening of mental disorders, quite often people only start to learn about resilience after they suffer (like our patients who wished that they knew this and that long time ago).

How do we create that kind of environment for our next generations? Where (whether positive or negative) thoughts and feelings are taken lightly; where we understand negative and positive events, thoughts, feelings are just equally likely to happen as the positive ones, so we face them all and accept them all; where we allow children to explore their feelings and thoughts during difficult times; where even a young child understand what value is and changing or persisting his/her behaviour in serving of the values; where we are able to adapt to changing environmental and situational demands and get the balance in them?

What do you really want?

Deep down inside, what do you really want?

Happy? Rich? Healthy? Successful? A perfect husband/wife? A great job?

It’s the first day of 2015. Usually people are setting goals around this period of time. New year, new resolutions!

But this year I’m going to ask for some changes, how about not setting goals, how about asking yourself, what do you really value in your life? What’s most important to your life?

So what are values?

  • Our heart’s deepest desires: how we want to be, what we want to stand for and how we want to relate to the world around us.
  • Leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life.
  • Values are not to be evaluated, but serve as the chosen standard by which other things can be evaluated.

Why values and not goals?

  • A value is a direction we desire to keep moving in; an ongoing process that never reaches an end
  • A goal is a desired outcome that can be achieved or completed. Once achieved, it can be crossed off the list.
  • So if you want to get married, that’s a goal; But if you want to be a caring and supportive person, those are values. Values such as these are way of acting within your control, rather than consequences that are in part, down to external factors or up to chance.
  • Connecting with our values gives us a sense that our hard work is worth the effort. Values provide a powerful antidote: a way to give your life purpose, meaning and passion. Unlike goals, you may one day achieve a goal you desperately working hard for all your life and feel so lost not knowing what to do next.
  • Once you have had your values set, you can then work out your goals based on your values.

So now, sit down with a pen and paper (or your tablet/smartphone), take some time to really think what you really want and value in your different aspects of your life, imagine when you’re 80 years old and reflecting back on your life…

You’ll realize that values are like compass of your life giving you sense of direction! :)

Metaphors (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)

The PDF file below is one of the appendices from the book “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Psychosis” edited by Eric M. J. Morris, Louise C. Johns and Joseph E. Oliver.

It’s a short story of hopes, combining some metaphors commonly used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Definitely worth reading, and re-reading to understand more about ACT, and get a feel of the center approach and techniques used in ACT.

Click here: See the wood for the trees (pdf)

 

Related reading on huibee.com:

Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting?

Mindfulness and Acceptance Tasks 

Mindfulness and Acceptance tasks

Following my previous post Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting, here is a few tasks that may help to explore on how to “accept” your thought without causing too much emotional distress.

Task 1

Pick a word that may cause slight distress in you (e.g. “cockroach”, “snake”, “work”, “boss”, “kids”, “boyfriend”, “presentation” etc). Now repeat this particular word as quick as you can (while still making sure that the word is pronounced clearly) for 30 seconds.

This tasks doesn’t make you feel better about “presentation” itself, but after repeating the word for so many times, you probably can no longer take the word so literally – it loses its meaning. Same goes to negative thought (e.g. “I’m a failure”, “everyone hates me”). If those thoughts pop up in your mind, try to see them only as some words, accept them as they are, but not to relate yourself to them, as if it’s just some unrelated persons saying it to you.

Task 2

Sit down in an undisturbed place, close your eyes and imagine a tiger (or a dog if you find it difficult to picture a tiger in your mind). Let the tiger does whatever it wants to do there in your mind, not to control what it does or doesn’t. If the tiger stays quietly, let it be; if it moves around, let it be, too. Do this for about 5 minutes.

Next, for 5 minutes, try NOT to think about tiger at all. Do not think about tiger. Whenever it pops up in your mind, suppress it, avoid it.

What do you realize? Which part of task 2 is harder? To accept the tiger being there and does whatever it likes, or to suppress the tiger, avoid the tiger?

Task 3

Take a few minutes to practise to complete the following sentence, “Right now I’m aware of …”, and putting different descriptions at the ending each time. For example, “Right now, I’m aware of the brightness of the screen”; “Right now, I’m aware of the sound of the air-conditioner”; “Right now, I’m aware of some numbness on my left foot”; “Right now I’m aware of my thoughts on completing the homework”. Name and describe, avoid making judgement. By using language to describe things, you get to control your attention and get to connect to your field of consciousness, rather than its content, so you’re becoming like an observer to your experience. This task requires more practice!

________________________________________________________________________

Now imagine this: A and B fell over badly in public.

A thinks, “this is so embarrassing, ah, but it’s so funny at the same time”, so he laughs at his own carelessness and let go of it.

B thinks, “this is so embarrassing! Everyone is going to laugh at me and watch me like a clown”, he gets so angry and ashamed.

Most of the time, it’s how we relate ourselves to those incidents, thoughts, feelings etc, it’s really not what that happens. If we choose to calm ourselves down and accept whatever that happens, that come to our minds, and allow ourselves to feel the waves of our emotions, the discomfort will soon no longer be “discomforting”.

Thought Challenging or Thought Accepting?

Which do you think is better or more workable? To challenge your thought or to accept it?

Traditionally, the psychologists of Cognitive Behavioural approaches emphasize that our thinking style is what causes us to respond emotionally to events, so it’s our thinking style that determines our feelings, our ability to overcome and steer through when adversity strikes (Reivich, Shatte, 2002).

However, the Mindfulness and Acceptance-based approaches suggest that it’s not so much of the content of our thoughts and attitudes that matters, it’s our relationship with them, i.e. how we respond to them.

So the former approach traditionally teaches people to gather evidence and dispute the logic of unhelpful thoughts, whereas the latter approach says we can simply acknowledge the thoughts and distance ourselves from them, without getting into an internal struggle.

Have you ever tried to control or avoid unpleasant experiences and later coming to realize that it’s affecting you even more and causing more discomfort? (e.g. some noise while you’re trying to sleep; your worries; some palpitation and fears)

Psychological suffering (feeling sad, anxious, guilty etc) is very common and so realistically cannot be avoided. Our attempts to avoid or control painful internal experiences can compound and prolong our emotional suffering, at the same time damaging the quality of our lives.

I’ll subsequently write more posts on how to practise and achieve that. But from now on, start to notice those unpleasant experience, acknowledge them and accept them, instead of trying to control or avoid them.

10/9/14: Check here for some tasks  to explore Mindfulness and Acceptance.