Category Archives: A Liberated Mind

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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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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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?

A Week of Self as Context – 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 10 – The Second Pivot – Self – The Art of Perspective Taking.

You can read the introduction to this project here, and last week’s focus on Chapter 9 – The First Pivot – Defusion – Putting the Mind on a Leash here.

I’m going to do this week a bit differently from last week. My post on Defusion was more of a copy-and-paste job than I’d like these posts to be. I’m here to express my own thoughts, feelings, and results of the practice of the pivots than just parroting what Dr. Hayes says in the book.

On another note, I do like the classical ACT descriptions of the self: self-as-context and self-as content, which is why I included them in the title of this post, even though they are not mentioned in this particular book. Here’s a short article that explains the terms better than I ever could: Contacting Self as Context

First, a report on my big three:

Nicotine – holy fucking shit. I haven’t smoked or vaped in 9 days. Still using the gum (and defusing from the super unhelpful “but you aren’t really successful if you are using the gum” thoughts). I keep on thinking that I need to start cutting down now, but I’m actually going to follow directions for once in my life and continue to use the recommended dosage for the week that I’m in. Remembering to “notice who wants to vape” and then “notice who is noticing” seems to help a lot.

Sleep – actually seemed to be *worse* this week. But thinking back, there wasn’t a lot of work in this area. Not too sure how to apply the self pivot on this – I probably need to hit up The Sleep Book again. Maybe recognize that I’m not the story of “being an insomniac”?

That other thing – half assed work, so half assed results. To be honest, these three things are ranked in order of importance to me, so I’m not too worried about #3 at the moment. It’s not illegal, some may consider it immoral, and it *is* getting in the way of my relationships, so I’ll deal with it.

And now, the highlights and notes. Less copy-paste, more OC:

Once we develop “cognitive perspective taking”, our Transcendent Self (Observer Self, Consciousness, Noticing, whatever you want to call it) emerges. This is self-as-context.

At the same time, “self-as-content” emerges. This is the self that identifies with thoughts and feelings. It believes it is the thoughts it is thinking and the feelings it is feeling.

My note at Kindle location 2732: I prefer “The Observing Self” – “Transcendent” seems a bit woo woo for me. (I took this note on my first pass though, and that changed at some point, as you’ll see coming up.)

I highlighted “story of our self” over and over and over again in this chapter, and throughout the week was really blown away by the stories I tell about myself – smart, stupid, funny, boring, inept, superstar… it’s really insane just how contradictory they can be depending on the context. (there’s that word again.)

“… belonging was literally a matter of life or death.” My note at Kindle location 2737: Sure can feel this way sometimes. Not so much anymore, but I’ve always admired the lone, strong man – because he is so much “better” than people who need people.

I just realized – there’s the reason that I need this pivot more than I realized. While I no longer admire the lone wolf mentality, it’s in there, and it always will be. I can’t delete the belief from my nervous system. I may not necessarily need others to keep me from certain death, I do need them to meet my psychological needs, and they need me.

“We lie about ourselves to defend our ego; we play the victim; we berate ourselves for failing to meet inflated standards that might please others; and we become consumed by worries about rejection and perceived slights.” My note at Kindle location 2739: I’ve ridden all of those rides multiple times.

“High self-esteem is a worthy goal.” My note at Kindle location 2741: Meh… no it isn’t. The ability to do, and then doing, “esteemable acts” is a worthy goal. A healthy self-esteem is a worthy goal. Yes, he says this later, but this one sentence is just wrong. I suppose what your definition of “high” is.

The esteemable acts idea is straight out of AA. We don’t build self-esteem by imagining convincing myself that we are great – it’s done by doing the right thing/best thing/most helpful thing as best we can.

I find it interesting that Dr. Hayes starts with the “High self-esteem is a worthy goal” idea, but then talks about how it can get too high. That I agree with – I might have said “A healthy self-esteem is a worthy goal”, but I think we are saying the same thing.

“We may also try to prove our worth by taking on tasks that are beyond our talents, suffering more damage to our self-esteem as a result.” My note at Kindle location 2753: Unless we base our self-esteem on the fact that we took on something beyond our current abilities, instead of the results themselves.

[More highlights about our “self stories” – I’m thinking this may be an important idea… :-)]

“… allowing that awareness alone to be at the core of what we take ourselves to be.” My note at Kindle location 2757: which is why we can safely call this aspect of self the “I” – it’s whichever we choose to be (conceptualized, transcendent, physical…) it’s up to us, and I choose “transcendent” (although I’m not a huge fan of that word.) Further note: Interesting that I wrote this a week ago and said that “transcendent” was fine… and I just took a note that says that I prefer “observer”. The label doesn’t matter. It’s still just a story.

“Which storyline will lead you forward to where you want to go? Which storyline seems most useful to you and under which circumstances? Who would you rather determines which storyline gets your attention? The Dictator Within, or your transcendent self?” My note at Kindle location 2911: I get to choose.

The exercises that helped me most from this chapter were I Am/I Am Not (I did this one a few times), Catching Self-Awareness on the Fly (picked up an Android app called Notifications of Mindfulness to help me out with this one), and Distinction Between Awareness and the Content of Awareness.

That’s it for now (and that’s plenty!!!). On to the third pivot, Acceptance.



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

[This is a crosspost from a community on Reddit discussing the book A Liberated Mind. Made sense to post it here as well.]

Like I said in my previous post, I’m working through the six pivots from A Liberated Mind over the next six weeks. And I said I would apply these both to everyday situations, as well as my specific issues related to nicotine, sleep, and the “other thing.”

Nicotine – holy shit! I haven’t vaped in 75 hours! WTFF! I am using the gum (4mg), but I’ve used the gum before with little to no success. For me, 75 hours does not constitute a “little” success. After 30+ years of Marlboro Reds, then about 5 years of ecigs (the last 6 months on the Juul), this is freakin’ huge. I have to constantly defuse from Ms. Mind (I’m a male, but calling my mind female gives me a little more distance) because she doesn’t think I’m really doing it since I’m using the gum – she’s just trying to be helpful.

Sleep – meh. Maybe a little change, but dropping the vapes is probably interfering with it as well. Not so much defusion on this one as some of the exercises from Guy Meadows “The Sleep Book.”
“The Other Thing” – No real application, so no real change.

I’m posting an edited version of my highlights and notes below. Hope there isn’t too much – the last thing I want to do is violate Dr. Hayes’ copyrights.

Highlight from pg. 178, Kindle location: 2,406
We learn to become more cognizant of the automaticity of our thoughts and to watch the ones that aren’t helpful from a distance, as if to tell the Dictator Within, “Thanks, but I’ve got this covered.”

Highlight from pg. 178, Kindle location: 2,407
The critical voice and its commands don’t go away, but we see them more as the products of our mental mechanisms, like the pronouncements of the contraption created by the Wizard of Oz. We don’t need to argue with our thoughts. It’s more like putting the mind on a leash.

Highlight from pg. 179, Kindle location: 2,415
This is the yearning to create coherence and understanding out of our mental cacophony.

Highlight from pg. 180, Kindle location: 2,431
Not only is the desire for coherence natural, but ACT can satisfy it if we stop expecting “untidy” thoughts and feelings to go away.

Highlight from pg. 180, Kindle location: 2,433
If we’re seeking to make our self-story coherent so that it conforms to social expectations, it’s time to stop investing in that goal.
My Note: Even if it’s too rebel against social expectations, simply for the sake of rebelling

Highlight from pg. 181, Kindle location: 2,435
But there is a constructive kind of coherence that is just a pivot away: that of paying attention to the thoughts that are useful to us for living in accordance with our values, and letting go of a focus on thoughts that are unhelpful.

Highlight from pg. 181, Kindle location: 2,439
trust function over form.

Highlight from pg. 181, Kindle location: 2,439
accept how chaotic our thinking can be and direct our attention and our behavior toward thoughts that are useful.

Highlight from pg. 185, Kindle location: 2,504
watching her thoughts from a distance with a sense of open curiosity.

Highlight from pg. 187, Kindle location: 2,516
function over form.
[“function over form” really struck me… obs]

[Since I’m using the Kindle version of the book, I highlighted my answers to the Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire (pg. 188) on my first read through. I’ll give it some time and take it again in the future. I scored myself at 5, 4, 7, 6, 5, 6, and 4, which gave me an overall score of 37… doh!]

Highlight from pg. 191, Kindle location: 2,552
Your thoughts seem predictable. You’ve had them plenty of times before, so much so that they seem to be part of who you are. Make a note of these thoughts, actually writing them down, and you can practice defusing from them over time.
My Note: “they seem to be a part of who you are” – highlight this one twice!

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,559
highly comparative and evaluativeH

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,559
When your mind is just noting what is effective—seeking functional coherence—once you notice it, the review quiets.
Note: again with the functional coherence – I think that concept has really helped me. My thoughts can be completely jumbled in the background – just develop the ability to be coherent in the foreground.h

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,564
overbusy mode

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,564
lots of contradictions

Highlight from pg. 192, Kindle location: 2,564
(“You are wrong, you do not need that donut! It will make you fat. Well, even fatter. That’s why people avoid you. Oh, come on, it’s just a donut . . .”).
My Note: replace “donut” with “hit off of my Juul.” replace “fat” with “sick and addicted and in chains to the man.” The man – lol.

Highlight from pg. 194, Kindle location: 2,594
The goal is not just to make the specific pivot, it’s to learn the dance.

Highlight from pg. 195, Kindle location: 2,597
literal coherence

Highlight from pg. 195, Kindle location: 2,604
The goal is progress, not perfection.

Highlight from pg. 195, Kindle location: 2,607
Disobey on Purpose

Highlight from pg. 196, Kindle location: 2,617
the mind’s power over you is an illusion

Highlight from pg. 196, Kindle location: 2,618
You can easily build this into your life as a regular practice (right now I’m thinking, I cannot type this sentence! I can’t!).
My Note: I can’t take this note. Nope, can’t do it. I can’t type this, I can’t form a coherent thought about this! And I especially can’t save this note…

Highlight from pg. 176, Kindle location: 2,624
Even Mr. Mind or Ms. Mind will do.
My Note: Since I’m male, maybe I should start calling it “Ms. Mind” just to provide a little more distance?

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,626
Appreciate What Your Mind Is Trying to Do

Highlight from pg. 179, Kindle location: 2,629
“I really get that you are trying to be of use, so thank you for that.
My Note: Ms. Mind is just trying to keep me alive and functional, the best way it knows how.
Add-on: Not an it!

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,633
Sing It
My Note: First one I started to use from “The Happiness Trap.” Really powerful for me, but I find that sometimes I’m trying to use it to push away the thoughts rather than defuse from them. Pushing them away is just another way of fusing.

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,635
My default is “Happy Birthday.”
My Note: My default is the Brady Bunch theme song – “Here’s the story – of a man named Lyman…. who was thinking that he was gonna fail again….”

Highlight from pg. 197, Kindle location: 2,637
The measure of “success” is not that the thought goes away, or loses all punch and becomes unbelievable. It is that you can see it as a thought, and do so just a bit more clearly.
My Note: Again – I was going for the “go away!” or “get weaker!” – sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t.

Highlight from pg. 199, Kindle location: 2,657
The Hand Exercise
My Note: I’ve tried this one a few times, completely in my imagination. Not a regular part of my toolkit yet, but I’m going to try to remember to use it more.

Highlight from pg. 199, Kindle location: 2,668
These words are an echo of your history.

Highlight from pg. 200, Kindle location: 2,672
The Little Kid
My Note: Tried this one a few times too – not a whole lot of success – I’m never sure what I should be saying to the kid.

Highlight from pg. 200, Kindle location: 2,674
You are not ridiculous.

Highlight from pg. 202, Kindle location: 2,709
quite a pile of these badges:
My Note: add “addict” in there, along with the highlighted ones. “lazy” too. and “stupid”. and “retarded” (sorry, that’s the label that comes up.) Add On: “Evil” just popped up too.
These are the badges/labels that I highlighted: unlovable, sick, shameful, untrustworthy, fraud, cruel, liar, pervert, anxious