Tag Archives: ACT

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)

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.