Tag Archives: Acceptance

What’s good about Covid-19?

Really, if you have to come up with some positive points about Covid-19, what can you think of?

It’s an exercise I have done with two of my support group members, initially most of them were like.. “Huh? Positive thing about Covid?”, “I can’t think of any”, and after squeezing their brain juices, “Ok, maybe xxx…” reluctantly. But I collected a rather long list in the end, there were more and more coming out:

  • spending more quality time with family
  • spending more time with the self (some people never get the chance to do so)
  • developing some new habits and routine (e.g. work out, cooking their own meals)
  • developing some new interests (e.g. baking, cooking, growing plant, DIY this and that)
  • learning new skills online (e.g. yoga, taekwando, cooking, coding)
  • rediscovering some old passions
  • working from home, saving time on traffic and money on petrol/toll
  • more things go online, becoming more accessible (not just clothes, now you can get fresh seafood and physiotherapy online too)
  • people are more accepting anything online (e.g. psychotherapy, university courses, ballet classes)
  • better problem solving skills facing difficulties, how a lot of people transformed their business and work and career creatively
  • becoming more resilient, more able to cope with stress and challenges
  • spending less on unnecessary items (working from home, no longer need to buy office outfits)
  • started finance planning (due to pay cut, less income generated during this period)
  • better for the earth, animals, plants when humans are all staying home
  • contemplating what humans have done to the mother earth and natural environment
  • contemplating what a tiny virus can lead to and how we should change
  • developing much better hygiene related habits, like washing hands after coming home, wearing masks
  • having more personal space in the public areas! (many people with and without anxiety related issues love this)
  • watching live concert online (being very close without paying for the expensive tickets and worrying about parking, traffic etc)
  • not going home for Chinese New Year celebration, meaning they don’t have to face the relatives and answer their questions (“Why are you still single? Why aren’t you getting married? Why aren’t you having children? Why aren’t you having another baby?” etc) (Happy Chinese New Year, by the way!)

Can you come up with more?

The Intention/Belief behind a Behaviour

I talked about letting go of thought VS chucking it away in a 2016 post: Let it go OR Chuck it away. Now, let’s look at this:

Winnie the Pooh & Piglet

The behaviour that Pooh and Piglet do are the same, i.e. they both don’t think about the scary dream. But what Pooh is doing, is “letting go”, whereas piglet? He’s trying hard to chuck it away.

Quite often people overlook this key distinction, they think they copy the same behaviour, and will then achieve the same results. But the beliefs and intention behind the behaviour are important too. Are you worrying about the dream so you don’t think about it? Or do you not care about it so you don’t think about it?

Similarly, on anxiety, are you practicing relaxation because you think anxiety is bad and you can’t tolerate it? Or are you practicing relaxation because it helps you perform better when you’re less anxious? It’s the beliefs and intention behind that differ, the behaviour done or presented is the same.

It’s like on “acceptance” (a word I tend not to use with clients). Do you accept the pain because it doesn’t really matter anymore, or do you accept it because you have no choice (is it still acceptance?)?

What Acceptance is and is not?

I generally try to avoid using the word “acceptance” in my everyday clinical work. I found that people can become resistant when I say “accept it”, normally when I follow it with “allow it to be, let it be, without struggling”, they immediately get it, or at least become more “accepting” to the idea of acceptance.

Acceptance is not wanting or liking. You accept how things are going for you, doesn’t mean you like or want things that way. I accept that my cat has to be put down due to lymphoma, doesn’t mean I like or want him to be put down. I accept the sadness that comes with the loss, doesn’t mean I like or want to be sad.

Acceptance is also not tolerating. They are very different, do you want people to accept you, or tolerate you?

Acceptance is more about allowing things to be that way, accommodating it without struggling (so much) with it. Normally it applies to things that you can’t change directly (external events  which you have no control on, e.g. your cat has lymphoma; but also includes your internal thoughts and emotions, which you can’t simply chuck away like a piece of paper, e.g. sadness, fear, anxiety, thought of “I’m not good enough”).

The Freedom to Choose

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.

They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing:

the last of the human freedoms —

to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

– Victor E. Frankl

This is a quote from the book “Man’s search for meaning”, a book written by Viktor Frankl published in 1964, the author recorded his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

Just to, perhaps remind all of us that, even in the most difficult and challenging situation, there’s still one thing that we all possess – the freedom to choose. We might not be able to leave the situation, but we can choose how we’re reacting to the situation, how we are treating ourselves and those around us. And nobody can take this away from us.


正念练习:河流上的飘叶(取自“接受与承诺疗法”Acceptance and Commitment therapy)

这是个闭眼练习。首先阅读说明,当你理解了这个练习的过程后,闭上眼睛开始。 (或者你可以使用这篇文章末尾的录音)



(图像的生动或清晰程度无关紧要,只要有这个概念在就可以了– 觉察自己的想法,一旦发现它们就轻轻地放下)



当河流在流动,你也能注意到想法并轻轻地把想法放下时,这就是认知解离 (Cognitive defusion) 的时候。记得头脑本来就是设计来思考的,所以它总是会不断弹出各种想法,你虽然不能控制这点,但你能选择是否对这些想法作出反应,或者选择轻轻地放下它们。如果你认为“我做得不对”、“这个练习对我不起作用”或“我怎么会没有想法”,留意到它们也是你其中的一些想法,后退一步,把它们也放到落叶上。一些其它特别“粘”的想法(比较难以觉察和解离的想法),包括含强烈情绪的想法、比较性的想法等。




河流上的飘叶 III(直接开始,指示较少,适合已经熟悉这个练习的人)



Watching the Mind-Train

Meditation Exercise: The Mind-Train

Following my favourite Leaves on the Stream (see here), I am introducing another mindfulness exercise. It is an eye-closed exercise (though possible to do it with eyes opened when you are familiar), so please read the instruction first.

Imagine you are standing at a railway bridge gazing down at three sets of train tracks. A slow mining train is on each set of tracks moving away from you. Each train is composed of a string of little coach/car. Seemingly endless, all three chug slowly along underneath the bridge.

Now, as you look down, imagine that the train to the left carries only ore composed of sensations, perceptions, and emotions (e.g. sounds you hear, hot sensation you feel, sweaty palms, sadness you notice, itchiness you feel etc). The middle train carries only your thoughts (your evaluations, predictions, and self-conceptualisation etc). The train on your right carries your urges to act (e.g. your pull to look away, your urge to scratch your face or stop the exercise, your efforts to change the subject). Looking down on these three tracks can be seen as a metaphor for looking at your mind.

Now, find a comfortable chair to sit in for a while in a spot where you won’t be disturbed and you can be quiet. Begin the exercise by thinking of something you’ve been struggling with lately, then close your eyes and picture the three tracks. Your job will be to stay on the bridge and gaze down at these three trains moving away from you. Take at least 3 minutes just to watch what comes up for you.

Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it's not as simple in my imagination!)
Mind train. (Forgive my very basic skills, it’s not as simple in my imagination!)