A Week Focused on Action – Working on “A Liberated Mind”

[This is a crosspost from a book discussion community on Reddit focused on A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters.]

Over the past week, I’ve focused on Chapter 14 – The Sixth Pivot – Action – Committing to Change.

Previous entries in this weekly exercise:

“… you’re not doing this to… conform to a new version of a conceptualized self.”

This is key for me. There’s a fine line between change in order to live a fulfilling life by “connecting to your deepest values”, and change in order to become something “better” than you already are.

I was always focused on the latter. It is for anyone who’s jumping off place is “I’m evil and deserve punishment.”

We also have to remember that perfectionism will kill any progress we’ve made. The commitment to change, followed up by the best action we can take in the moment, is inherently successful. Forget the results – it’s all about the process.

I also really like the question we ask of ourselves in order to make this pivot:

“Based on a distinction between you as a conscious being and the story the mind tells of who you are, in this time and situation are you willing to experience your experiences as they are, not as what they say they are, fully and without needless defense, and direct your attention and effort to creating larger and larger habits of behavior that reflect your chosen values? YES or NO?”

My highlights and notes from the chapter:

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dance

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commit to building values-based habits of action,

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committed action brings the six pivots together into a healthy, ongoing process of acting as you choose.

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It can’t be learned all at once, any more than how to dance the tango could be learned all at once.

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habitually pivoting toward what matters

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It means moving forward with self-compassion, not berating ourselves for inevitable missteps, and buying in when our judgmental minds label them, or ourselves, as failures.

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you’re not doing this to impress others, bolster your ego, or conform to a new version of a conceptualized self.

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you’re committing to change because doing so is helping you connect with your deepest values from your most authentic sense of self.

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accepting the pain and risk

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keeping our attention on the richness of making an effort and learning new habits rather than fixating on a static state of success and how far we are from it.

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we’re not going to be immediately competent in our new chosen actions.
Note: Defuse from perfectionism

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We’ll backslide in our behavior and we’ll probably grasp again at avoidance.

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that is how change happens.

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the intrinsic satisfaction of developing competence.

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We yearn to be able to act effectively in the world; to live, and love, and play, and create skillfully. This is the yearning for competence—to be able.

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especially once you are the one determining how to motivate yourself.

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please others

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serving others,

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We may become obsessive about trying to prove our competence or avoidant of the shame of not being perfect.

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Procrastination is one way we avoid these situations; we mistake it for a way to keep feelings of failure or anxiety about the prospect of failure at bay, but it only ultimately intensifies them. Of course, often we also just abandon the effort altogether.

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we’re simply not going to be immediately competent in building values-based habits.

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If someone tells me in the first session how they picture themselves being applauded for their great skill or how they want to be famous and play in a rock band, I know there is heavy sledding ahead.
Note: And there’s why my life has been heavy sledding – more about the image than the skill. Especially the image of not caring about the image

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immediate consequences dominate over delayed consequences.

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we will enjoy playing the guitar once we are in a band,

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I will stop worrying about the future when I have a lot of money.
Note: Or out of debt. Or not even alot! Just more

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including the learning we can gain from our stumbles,

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some forms of persistence are actually forms of avoidance,

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building habits of values-based actions that are authentically meaningful to us.

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we should develop SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time-bound.

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specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and time-bound.

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A great way to think about the process of building new habits of living is embarking on a hero’s journey.
Note: Getting to bed at s reasonable hour is part of my hero’s journey. Gotta be as healthy as possible to be a hero!

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through committed action the quest is accomplished.

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Passion without perseverance is a tragedy; persistence without purpose is a mockery of human potential.

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Based on a distinction between you as a conscious being and the story the mind tells of who you are, in this time and situation are you willing to experience your experiences as they are, not as what they say they are, fully and without needless defense, and direct your attention and effort to creating larger and larger habits of behavior that reflect your chosen values? YES or NO?

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Life asks it of you over and over and over—without end, so far as I know.

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life affords us the potential to take committed action in every moment of every day.

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Also, feel free to draw on other behavior change science.
Note:This is one of the things that I love about ACT. It doesn’t claim to be a panacea.

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Advice without that rigorous scientific foundation is often misleading.

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Make Small Adjustments

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the thought stops being a bother.
Note: This is a key idea in ACT for me : he doesn’t say “before the thought goes away.” He says “before the thought stops being a bother.” Such a distinction!

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our behavioral patterns don’t only affect us as individuals.

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