DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK!
Defusion involves distancing, disconnecting or
seeing thoughts and feelings for what they are (streams of words, passing
sensations), not what they say they are (dangers or facts).
STOP, STEP BACK, OBSERVE (the thoughts and
feelings, what's happening to/for the other person).
Notice what's happening - your thoughts, physical sensations, emotions, images,
memories. Notice the way you're interpreting what they mean, and how that's
Notice the unhelpful thoughts. It can help to say them differently, in a
non-threatening way: slowly, in a squeaky or comic voice or write them down.
Identify the emotion you're feeling, and label the unhelpful thoughts
- an evaluation or judgement
- a prediction
- a feeling or sensation
- a memory
- an opinion
- an unhelpful
thinking habit: mind-reading
(assuming we know what others are thinking), negative filter (only noticing
the bad stuff), emotional reasoning (I feel bad so it must be bad),
catastrophising (imagining the worst), the internal critic etc.
Learn more and practice mindfulness so that
you can be aware of when you are in the present moment rather than being 'in
your head' - perhaps thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
Notice what you don't normally notice - sights,
sounds, sensations, thoughts, textures etc.
Use metaphors try to see things differently.
Metaphors can help us understand thoughts in
a different way. For example:
Passengers on the Bus
You can be in the driving seat, whilst all
passengers (thoughts) are noisily chattering, being critical or shouting out
directions. You can allow them to shout, but you can keep your attention focused
on the road ahead.
The playground is fenced in and the children
have to learn to live with the bully. This bully uses threats, mocking and
abusive words to upset his victims. We can't stop our thoughts, but perhaps we
can react to them in a different way, as these victims show us.
Victim 1 - believes the bully (the thoughts), becomes distressed, and reacts
automatically. The bully sees this as great entertainment and will carry on
targeting this victim. This is how we normally respond to our thoughts.
Victim 2 - challenges the bully, and bully
eventually gives up on this victim.
Victim 3 - acknowledges then ignores the bully,
changing focus of attention, and the bully soon gives up.
Items floating down the river - perhaps leaves
or bits of mucky debris (thoughts, feelings, images) - instead of struggling to
stay afloat, we can stand on the bank watching our thoughts, images and
sensations go by
The Beach Ball
We can try to stop our thoughts, like trying to hold a beach ball under water,
but it keeps popping up in front of our face (intrusive distressing thoughts).
We can allow the ball (our thoughts) to float around us, not intruding, just
letting it be.
We can think about sitting on the train,
watching the scenery (thoughts, feelings, sensations) go by as we look out of
the windows, or we can be standing on the station platform watching the thought
train pass by - we don't have to jump on it. We can stand and watch as it
we get anxious driving through a tunnel, the best option is to keep going to the
other end, rather than stop or look for an exit in the tunnel. This feeling will
pass - there is an end to this tunnel.
Whatever the weather, or whatever happens on the
surface of the mountain, and even within it - the mountain stands firm, mostly
unaffected. Strong, grounded, permanent. We can be like that mountain, observing
thoughts, feelings and sensations, and yet
know inner stillness.
The Poisoned Parrot
More useful Therapy Metaphors
from Ciarrochi & Bailey 2008
Defusion - this page as .PDF
Self Help Books
Get Out Of Your Mind And Into Your Life
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety: A Guide to Breaking Free From Anxiety, Phobias, and Worry
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy For Dummies
The Happiness Trap
Act Made Simple: An Easy-to-Read Primer on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (New Harbinger Made Simple)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: The Process and Practice of Mindful Change
A CBT Practitioner's Guide to ACT: How to Bridge the Gap Between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ACTivate Your Life: Using acceptance and mindfulness to build a life that is rich, fulfilling and fun
The Reality Slap