Author Archives: Lyman Reed

The Coming Year is Dedicated To…

Over the last couple of days, I re-read Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

In it, he tells the story of William James, and his year of personal responsibility.

Here’s a blog post from Manson about it: The Prime Belief. Go read that before continuing on – the rest of this post will make a whole lot more sense if you do.

That’s where Imma dedicate most of my available fucks to this year – 100% responsibility for my own life – knowing that how I respond to everything is all Lyman, all the time.

No blame, no fault finding, no thinking that because of my genetics or my upbringing I suck too much to live a useful life.

Blame, fault finding, and woe is me are always options – they are responses that I’ve pulled out of my pocket in the past. Mostly the last one. I was (am? yes, am.) such a special snowflake that everyone but me has this life thing figured out. Poor Lyman, might as well just kill yourself. But wait, even that is asking too much of a scared and weak little piece of shit like you.

This doesn’t come up as much as it used to, but I still do it waaaaaayyyyyy too much more than I want to. Probably even more than I consciously realize.

This is about living the Serenity Prayer, with a focus on courage and wisdom. It seems to me that serenity is actually a by-product of acceptance, and I’m really good at faking that – dying on the inside with a bullshit smile on my face, and hiding from the world if I can’t manage that smile.

I’m going to work on developing:

  • acceptance (for really reals) when it comes to the things I cannot change (for really reals)
  • courage to change the things that I can
  • wisdom to know the difference

I’m not asking a god to grant me anything. I’m asking present Lyman to develop these things, so that future Lyman can live a richer, fuller life.

Just Do It! isn’t going to work here. The only thing to “just do” is point yourself in a direction and move. Here are the tools I plan on using to point myself if the direction of acceptance, courage, and wisdom:

Life gonna test my resolve here – that’s what life does. I’m gonna fail, over and over again. That’s what humans do.

I don’t give a fuck.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

 

The Ever-Blessed ONE : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 030

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“This is the ultimate fact which we so quickly reach on this, as on every topic, the resolution of all into the ever-blessed ONE. Self-existence is the attribute of the Supreme Cause, and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into all lower forms. All things real are so by so much virtue as they contain. Commerce, husbandry, hunting, whaling, war, eloquence, personal weight, are somewhat, and engage my respect as examples of its presence and impure action. I see the same law working in nature for conservation and growth. Power is in nature the essential measure of right. Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself. The genesis and maturation of a planet, its poise and orbit, the bended tree recovering itself from the strong wind, the vital resources of every animal and vegetable, are demonstrations of the self-sufficing, and therefore self-relying soul.”


It may seem all new agey and woo woo, but we – you, I, and literally everything in the universe, are one. I think that’s what Ralphy means by the “ever-blessed One.”

No, this doesn’t mean that you are all things, like some spiritual teachings say. But you are an integral part of all things. An important cog in the workings of the universe. Just like your liver is a part of your body, and necessary for it to function, you are a part of the universe, and necessary for it to function.

Even when your consciousness is gone, and your body is decaying, it will provide for the earth in ways that we are only beginning to understand.

Again… we are all waves on the ocean of life – and the ocean would be incomplete without each and every one of them.


Thoughts? Feel free to drop them in the comments.

 

Do Nothing and Die : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 029

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“Life only avails, not the having lived. Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim. This one fact the world hates, that the soul becomes; for that for ever degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to a shame, confounds the saint with the rogue, shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside. Why, then, do we prate of self-reliance? Inasmuch as the soul is present, there will be power not confident but agent. To talk of reliance is a poor external way of speaking. Speak rather of that which relies, because it works and is. Who has more obedience than I masters me, though he should not raise his finger. Round him I must revolve by the gravitation of spirits. We fancy it rhetoric, when we speak of eminent virtue. We do not yet see that virtue is Height, and that a man or a company of men, plastic and permeable to principles, by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities, nations, kings, rich men, poets, who are not.”


There is only power in action.

In the template for these entries, I usually use “blah blah blah” as a placeholder until I’m ready to write my part. Because as I’m saying it, that’s all it is. Blah blah blah… it’s nothing until it’s put into actual practice out there in the real world.

Do nothing –> get nothing. Actually, it’s more dangerous than that. Do nothing –> degrade.


Thoughts? Feel free to drop them in the comments.

 

Transcendence : Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson : 028

Continuing our discussion of “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


“And now at last the highest truth on this subject remains unsaid; probably cannot be said; for all that we say is the far-off remembering of the intuition. That thought, by what I can now nearest approach to say it, is this. When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;——the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. It shall exclude example and experience. You take the way from man, not to man. All persons that ever existed are its forgotten ministers. Fear and hope are alike beneath it. There is somewhat low even in hope. In the hour of vision, there is nothing that can be called gratitude, nor properly joy. The soul raised over passion beholds identity and eternal causation, perceives the self-existence of Truth and Right, and calms itself with knowing that all things go well. Vast spaces of nature, the Atlantic Ocean, the South Sea, —long intervals of time, years, centuries, —are of no account. This which I think and feel underlay every former state of life and circumstances, as it does underlie my present, and what is called life, and what is called death.”


I’ve always thought that it was a bit ironic that I was using another man’s words to base my ideas of self-reliance on. But just as we leave the raft behind, when we get to the place where we can live to the tune of our iron string, we transcend those things that we’ve built our lives upon, and become something completely new.

We might use Socrates’ hammer, Emerson’s wood, some glass from Einstein, a bit of carpet from Aurelius, the historical Buddha’s tape measure, Christ’s concrete, Hayes’ plastic… but the house of ourselves is greater than the sum of it’s parts.


Thoughts? Feel free to drop them in the comments.

 

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.

A Week Focused on Values – 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 13 – The Fifth Pivot – Values – Caring by Choice.

Previous entries in this weekly exercise:

This week was an interesting exercise in really getting down to what Lyman wants and who Lyman wants to be.

It hurt. In a good way.

Like I’ve been doing for the past few weeks, I re-read the chapter last Sunday, did an exercise or two (the VLQ and Values Writing), and continued on with the week, looking for ways that I could incorporate what I’d learned into my daily life.

My depression, anxiety, cravings for cigarettes (and a whole bunch of other stuff) shot up like they haven’t in a while. It wasn’t debilitating like it’s been in the past – but it did suck. And I kept wondering “What the fuck is going on???”

I used the pivots to defuse from the unhelpful thoughts, observed them from the perspective of my Transcendent Self, grounded myself in the present moment, accepted what was going on… all the stuff I’ve learned and really practiced so far.

Doing these things usually helped me feel better. And when they didn’t, they helped me to *feel* better (love that!) and kept me pointed in the direction I wanted to be pointed in.

After re-reading the chapter again yesterday, I realized that there *was* a warning in there about getting emotional throughout the process of looking at values – it may happen, but if a person uses the skills they are learned they’ll get through it. I missed that the first (and second) time reading it, and the first (and second and third and fourth and fifth) time listening to the audio of the chapter on my commute.

Holy crap, could I actually be doing this stuff right? (Thanks, mind! Maybe “Could this stuff really be working?” is more helpful?)


Intrinsic values are not something I’m used to following or developing. I’m the child of two Christian ministers, and our values came from Christ and the Church – we didn’t pick them ourselves (but at least is was from a denomination that actually tried to practice what Christ preached.) When I broke away from that, my values came from my social group – sex, drugs, rock and roll. Then on to AA – get everything from the 12 Steps. Then Buddhism – the 4 Noble truths were what I should live by. OK, how about Stoicism? Let’s try that bad boy now. Now nihilism… might as well have no values if I can’t figure out the right ones, huh?

Really looking at what’s important to Lyman is difficult for me. It’s always been about what’s “right.” Never about what’s important to me, just because it’s important to me.

Marcus Aurelius said “what’s good for the hive is good for the bee.” I think that it’s also true that what’s good for the bee is good for the hive. The bees make up the hive. Fucked up bees equals fucked up hive.

I’m part of the hive. My values are important. To me.


Highlights and Notes from the chapter:

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A clear sense of self-directed meaning provides us with an essentially inexhaustible supply of motivation.

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superficial gratifications

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we don’t trust ourselves to make good choices,

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We fear we might pick a life course we don’t have the necessary qualities to pursue.

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We also worry that our values may be out of step with cultural norms, leading us to be looked down on, left out, or even ridiculed.

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our sense of self is fused with
Note: Defusion – Self – Values

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Most commonly of all, we turn away from our true values because of past pain we want to avoid.

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all forms of psychological rigidity show up inside our mishandling of the yearning for meaning and self-direction.

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sensory gratification,

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The Values pivot allows us to redirect our yearning for meaning toward the pursuit of the activities that align with what we truly find meaningful.

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Pain is like a flashlight if we know where to point the beam.

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“What would I have to not care about for this not to hurt?”

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In your pain you find your values, and in your avoidance, you find your values disconnection.

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defusing from judgment,

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“because I choose to.”

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All choices are informed by our history.

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It will start berating us—“See I told you, you’re no good. You’re a hypocrite, a charlatan.” We may also get caught up in excessively evaluating whether we’ve chosen the right values, ruminating over whether they’re really our “true values.” With the ability to disregard these unhelpful messages, values work is freeing rather than punishing.

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living lovingly, playfully, kindly, compassionately, protectively, persistently, and faithfully.

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Values are always in the now.

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Living day to day according to our values is enormously rewarding.

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When people are focusing primarily on future achievement, or what they want or “must get,” they miss the richness of life in the present; the yearning for orientation is thwarted.

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feeling fully liberated him to do what he really cared about.
Note: *feeling* fully liberates us, no matter the tone – “good” “bad” “comfortable” “uncomfortable” – just fucking feel them to be free

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Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting unexpectedly emotional over the next few days, or cranky, or anxious.
Note: Oh yeah… actually missed this line at first – then I wondered “Why am I so damn depressed?” The other pivots seemed to have more of an immediate positive in the moment emotional lift. But now we’re getting deeper, and it’s getting a little more difficult. Totally worth it, though.

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we hurt where we care,

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Research has shown that values writing has more impact on behavior and health than just asking people to pick their values from a list or state them in a few words.

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Actual behavior.

A Week of Mindfulness – 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 12 – The Fourth Pivot – Presence – Living In The Now.

The previous entries in this weekly exercise are:

My favorite thing about this chapter was how it took mindfulness out of the woo-woo and into the real world. It’s a real psychological flexibility skill that can have a dramatic effect on people’s quality of life – and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with meditation. Formal meditation just happens to be a tool that can be used to develop mindfulness.

Personally, I enjoy meditating, and I think that it’s brought me benefits. I’ve been doing it for a long time, really consistently over the past few years. At times, I *have* used it as an escape from the world, but my experience agrees with what Dr. Hayes says – you’ll get the most benefit from it if you use it to develop psychological flexibility.

One thing that really struck me about some of the techniques mentioned in this chapter was how similar they were to those taught by Shinzen Young, founder of the Unified Mindfulness system. UM can be a little strange to people who have only practiced “follow the breath” or mantra based meditations. Shinzen teaches people to engage with the world, not hide from it. Mindfulness of shit is just as important as mindfulness of flowers.

A quick personal note on my Big Three – still successful with the vaping, but no movement on the other two. And I’m good with that – one thing at a time.

Highlights and notes from Chapter 12:

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It’s as if we’re playing tennis while wearing sunglasses with a lens that’s been rubbed with sandpaper.

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you missed it.

Note: And you’ll never ever ever ever get it back.

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pivot toward presence,

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not only from the impulse to avoid suffering but also from a positive yearning—the deep desire to know where we are in our life journey.

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our problem-solving mind tries to orient us by ruminating about what’s happened in our past and worrying about what will happen in our future.

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cognitive weeds

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Jon defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Note: Shinzen: “Concentration, Clarity, Equanimity.” Purpose is outside the (his?) scope, since the “purpose” could be anything (at least that’s what it seems to me). But if our “purpose” is to be human, it’s already built into the definition.

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I think he is saying that our awareness should be directed toward being here and now so as to live the life we intend. Mindfulness is in no way an escape from the pressures and worries, hopes and fears of our lives.

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Practicing defusion, connecting with our transcendent self, and opening to acceptance all assist with being nonjudgmental and keeping our minds from slipping into rumination or worry.

Note: They’re all connected.

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not practicing mindfulness as a form of avoidance

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selfish meditators

Note: That’s me!

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avoidant meditators

Note:That’s me!

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Some even become obsessive about their contemplative practice, turning into virtual meditation junkies.

Note: I’m glad I never had the stamina to push through the hard parts to get to this point. Always wanted to, though… so that I could avoid my life.

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Research shows that meditation is most fruitful when practiced with the aim of building flexibility skills,

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Meditation’s benefits come specifically from using the practice to build attentional flexibility on purpose

Note: Again, Shinzen. The idea of “thinking” while meditating was so foreign to me, yet so beneficial. Then I stopped, because it got hard. I’m really glad I’ve started again.

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we need to watch out that our minds don’t turn this helpful process into yet another method of avoidance.

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several desperate years inadvertently using mindfulness practices as a method of avoidance or problem solving.

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girlfriend—“I hope that same thing happening in class does not happen here!”

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“I was washed over with the relief of knowing that I could drop the search for the magic bullet.”

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not ask it to change one bit.

Note: (the fear) – just notice it, don’t distract from it by “following the breath.” Not that that isn’t beneficial, but even that can be used to avoid.

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“There are days when it feels like my mind is just throwing the kitchen sink at me. But it’s easier to take it less seriously now.

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only about 7 percent of its benefits are determined by the sheer amount of practice.

Note: you don’t have to do 2 hour a day!

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If you do not yet have a more complicated form of practice,

Note: It’s ok… you can use what works for you. You don’t have to back to the beginning. Use what you’ve learned in the past (even if it was being misused in many instances) to recognize the perfect now.

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Consistent practice is key to lasting results.

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call on them at any moment when you find your attention being unhelpfully pulled into the past or future.

Note: Micro Hits!

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Consider sticking to a daily flexibility practice as your first commitment to living your more values-based life.

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Open Focus.

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focus on the physical or temporal space between the events:

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I’M BEAT.

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Interpretations, Memories, Bodily sensations, Emotions, Action urges, and Thoughts of other kinds (such as predictions and evaluations).

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Deliberately bring a memory to mind and then say to yourself, “Now I’m remembering that . . .,” continuing the statement by briefly describing the memory in one short sentence. For example, you might say, “Now I’m remembering that my boss told me I would never amount to anything.”

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This simple phrasing “I’m having the thought that . . .” is a powerful means of bringing defusion into mindfulness, creating a little distance from our thoughts and emotions and impulses that allows us to be in the present moment with them.

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keep paying attention to what you’re doing but also shift some focus to what’s going on inside your body.

Note: Feel In/Out, See In/Out, Hear In/Out

A Week of Acceptance – Working on “A Liberated Mind”

[This is a crosspost from a community on Reddit I’m trying to get off of the ground to discuss the book A Liberated Mind: How to Pivot Toward What Matters.]

Over the past week I focused on Chapter 11 – The Third Pivot – Acceptance – The Art of Perspective Taking.

[Previous entries in this little experiment of mine (just typed “mind” instead of “mine” – ha!): Introduction, Chapter 9 – The First Pivot – Defusion – Putting the Mind on a Leash, and Chapter 10 – The Second Pivot – Self – The Art of Perspective Taking.]

I’m starting to see why ACT wasn’t seeming to work on some of my issues in the past – specifically the Big Three (vaping, sleeping, and the other thing) that I’m working on as I go through this project of mind.

I was only using 1/6th of it most of the time.

I had my first real introduction to ACT through Russ Harris’ “The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT”. It’s a fantastic book, and may be a better initial intro to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training than “A Liberated Mind” – at least for the absolute novice. Of course, I can only say that because it was my path – YMMV.

Back then, and probably until I started this project, I was all about Defusion – it seemed to be the answer I’d always been looking for. For years before, I could see the rationality of looking at your thoughts and realizing that some of them aren’t helpful, then detaching from those that weren’t. But I just couldn’t do it – because I didn’t know how.

Enter defusion exercises – here was something that I could actually *do* to unhook from my thoughts. I could stop fighting them, see them for what they are (thoughts, duh), and decide if doing what they told me to do would be helpful.

And I had so much success with it, that I kind of left the others by the wayside, at least in a formal way. I still recognized the Transcendent Self (to a degree), I meditated regularly, I was already familiar with Acceptance (“Amor Fati.” “Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems.”), I kindof knew what was important to me, and *of course* I had to take action (“The source of my Personal Power (c)(tm)”). But when it came to day to day challenges, cravings, emotional upsets and downsets, defusion wasn’t enough.

But I can accept that. I wasn’t ready, and I’ve got a couple of years of practicing defusion under my belt as a result of that. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But in the month and a half since I read the book, my quality of life has freakin’ skyrocketed as a result of using the rest of the pivots (well, the first three so far in on a regular basis).

So anyway – here are my highlights and notes from the chapter on acceptance. Once again, a little different style than the past two times. I was spending too much on formatting the highlights and notes. I’m not going to waste as much time on that now. Just accept it :-).


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the first step in turning toward acceptance is admitting to yourself that the things you’ve been doing to cope with difficulties haven’t been working because their aim is avoidance.
[Close to everything I used was to avoid – avoid the cigarette cravings by trying to shut them down… and the best way to shut them down was to give in to them, as an example.]

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the next steps in acceptance—turning toward your pain and beginning to open up to experiencing it and learning from it.

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“You’re not strong enough for this” <—–That’s me! No it isn’t, it’s just a thought. Doesn’t matter if it’s true, it’s not helpful.

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“This is too hard” <—–That’s me! No it isn’t, it’s just a thought. Doesn’t matter if it’s true, it’s not helpful.

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“Who are you kidding, you’re just a failure!” <—–That’s me! No it isn’t, it’s just a thought. Doesn’t matter if it’s true, it’s not helpful.

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You can begin probing into the underlying motivations of the behavior you want to change.

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our pain is due to a healthy yearning.

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We yearn for experiences that make us feel.
[I could never admit that in the past. Feelings are for pussies, feelings make you weak. No, feelings make you human, and dealing with them, recognizing their positive power, and using *all* them to my advantage and for the betterment of the universe is awesome. Killing the uncomfortable ones with alcohol, empty sex, nicotine, religion, personal development, meditation, or any of the other hundreds of methods I used just made my life worse in the long run. The first acceptance I needed to practice was the basic acceptance that I’m a human being.]

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Acceptance instead helps us spread our arms wide and take the bad (so-called) with the good (so-called) and open up our capacity to feel, sense, and remember.
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emotional flexibility.
[It ain’t all about the intellect.]

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as we develop the skill of acceptance, we can keep doing a better job of feeling and experiencing.
[Never thought about acceptance like this. I’ve been familiar with the concept for a long time – AA taught me about it – but once again, even that can be used to (try to) kill off of the negative feelings I have about something.]

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Our problem-solving minds think avoiding painful memories and current experiences is eminently logical, but this shows again why it is an impossible task. Cold reminds us of hot; love can remind us of rape.
[This. Is. Gold.]

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“I’ve learned there is more to me than my intellect,” she says. “I’ve learned how to feel.”
[Thank you. Me too, slowly but surely (or not so surely.)

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I’ve been on an exciting journey of learning that it is OK to be me.”
[That’s where it’s at for me. That’s what I want to know in my bones, that it’s OK to be me, but the Dictator still gets me and tells me that it isn’t. But even that’s OK, because the Dictator is a part of me, so I’ll work on being OK with him as well.]

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“I know it will never be done. It doesn’t have to be. I’m not damaged goods. I’m not broken. I’m learning and growing, and that is enough.”
[It never has to be done.]

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The gift we receive when we choose to accept our experience, pain and all, is the wisdom of being able to feel and remember fully in the present, without disappearing into a negative thought network about the past.

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observe, describe, and accept

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fundamental to the process of exposure is the understanding that progress will be gradual.
[But I want it nooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww.]

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That’s why ACT adds the practice of defusion to exposure: to quiet the Dictator’s commands to avoid.
[Again… it seems that using the pivots together rather than in isolation really increases their power.]

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The single biggest step in embracing acceptance is appreciating how dangerous avoidance really is.
[This really hit me. I’ll sometimes hear the excuse of “OK, I won’t smoke, but in that case I deserve to do this other not so helpful thing.” No. Planning to avoid, no matter how innocuous it seems, isn’t just a little less bad – it’s freaking *dangerous*. Of course, if it’s already happened, just move on. But I personally need to watch out for that “plan to fail less.”]

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An important modification that ACT made to exposure is to instruct that it take place in the service of valued action. Don’t go to the mall just to expose yourself to the anxiety of being in a mall; go with the purpose of buying a gift for a loved one.
[Again… the pivots together work a thousand time (approximately) better than in isolation.]

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attending to the present moment rather than slipping into avoidant thoughts and emotions.

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The point is not to simply distract them from their anxiety. It is to show them that they can be OK enough with their anxiety to refocus their minds.
[Distraction can be a temporary band-aid, but using aspirin to treat a brain tumor isn’t the best idea.]

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acceptance rather than avoidance

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Acceptance involves an abandonment of conscious control—you just open the valve in safe circumstances. You have to let the emotion be what it will be.
[The “abandonment of conscious control.” Using it as a method of conscious control just doesn’t work – I know from past experience.]

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Others can wait until you’ve developed greater flexibility.
[One of my Big Three is the vaping. I’m using the nicotine gum to help. It’s a process, a process that takes time. And that’s OK, no matter how much the Dictator is telling me that I’m no better off, and really a failure, for using it – even though I HAVEN’T VAPED OR SMOKED IN 2 WEEKS AND THREE DAYS NOW! NRT never worked in the past – combining it with the pivots has worked well.]


Thanks for reading – thoughts?