Escaping The Happiness Trap: Introduction & I’m Having The Thought That

Evening lads and lassies!

I just recently discovered Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) through the book The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris. When I first heard of it, I was like “Meh, it sounds very AA. I can’t accept my negative thoughts. I refuse!” But then I thought about it. I’ve tried many medications, CBT and Law Of Attraction, and they didn’t do jack for me, so who knows? Maybe this lesser known approach could work! I assumed I’d have to force myself to accept my thoughts, which sounded really hard, but really, I only need to notice them and play around with them.

I’ve decided to try all the techniques in the book, and document one in particular each day. It’ll keep me motivated and hopefully help others. The first thing we are told to do is learn to notice when we’re going through a process called cognitive fusion. Cognitive fusion is hard to explain, but it’s when you can’t see a thought as what it is – a thought. Having anxiety I know too well that this affects my life. Cognitive fusion happens and I freak out like the world is ending and engage in a variety of control strategies. For example:

There’s a group of loud teenage boys coming towards me. My mind flashes back to the times I have been publicly humiliated and I get scared (cognitive fusion), so I put my headphones in and on full volume. That way if I hear anything that rhymes with an insult, I won’t assume it’s aimed at me. (control strategy).

The headphones are like my life support, so don’t expect me to give them up any time soon. I’m nowhere near brave enough for that yet, nor will I be for a long time.

I’m taking baby steps. I’ve come to be dependent on control strategies. I literally feel like my life depends on avoiding being publicly humiliated. So this will be far from easy!

By the way, ACT won’t get rid of these negative thoughts, or avoid them, but will help you react to them better.

 

Now, on to technique number 1 – I’m having the thought that….

We need to remind ourselves that thoughts are just thoughts. Many times I have found myself saying “I’m as ugly as sin”. Today I had to put the words “I’m having the thought that…” in front of it. So “I’m having the thought that I’m as ugly as sin.” It reminded me that it’s just a thought, not fact. The only problem with this is, what if someone else calls you a horrible name? I don’t know if I’d believe it’s just a thought then. Any ideas?

I tried this technique on a few occasions today. I felt intense rage over something stupid (like really stupid – i couldn’t find something) and freaked out for a good half hour, so I failed at cognitive defusion. I really hope I learn something useful for anger management. I’m certain I scare the neighbours. At one point in the day my dog was barking really loud, so I was like “I’m having the thought that the dog is an asshole”. It reminded me it was just a thought and the dog wasn’t being an asshole. Probably just chatting with his hearing impaired friends.

So far this technique has half worked for me, but it’s still my first day!

Next time: Musical Thoughts

Au revoir!

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4 thoughts on “Escaping The Happiness Trap: Introduction & I’m Having The Thought That

  1. It sounds grand! Once I was walking through a shopping centre with my other half when a gaggle of teenage girls came up ridiculously close behind us and yelled ‘That is disgusting!’ because I had leggings and a dress that finished 6 inches above my knees. I thought ‘Fuck off, I look FABULOUS!’ Then later that afternoon we stopped off for fish and chips and the young, gorgeous guy behind the counter couldn’t take his eyes off me (in a good way.) I like to think it’s all swings and roundabouts. There are always gonna be some cnuts, but then there are some decent people too. I’ve had the group of lads thing as well, clutched my bag, and had them very sweetly say ‘Excuse me, can we pass?’ as I was walking down an alleyway cacking it.

    I really hope it works for you!

    • I wish I was more like you. If i even imagine someone saying something like that, lives are in danger. I just can’t handle people judging my appearance. It’s a disgusting thing to do to someone you don’t even know!

      Yeah there’s a lot of dicks out there, but a few nice people. Went to a club one night and a guy came up to me saying “You’re extremely beautiful”. That was really nice of him, but I thought it was part of a bet because it was a HUGE body hating day for me. I was grateful though ’cause usually when I’m in someones line of vision i assume i’ll be abused. And when I turned him down (nicely) he didn’t call me an “ugly bitch”, like a lot of guys do when turned down. The world needs more people like that.

      I always remind myself that a guy insulting me is probably going home alone. I have an awesome guy who loves me when I get home, so that’s some major comfort.

      I think we need to remind ourselves that there are decent humans out there. It’s hard to believe it though!

  2. It takes a while to become the kind of person who doesn’t give a fuck, 80% of the time I’m there, the other 10% i can relate to what your saying. I agree entirely it is disgusting to judge others appearance, as my gran always says “If it suits the wearer bugger the starer.” I repeat that to myself when people say anything to me.

    As for me calling you ugly when you’ve rejected them, it’s because you’ve rejected them. Some guys aren’t mature enough to handle that!

    • Oh thankfully I’ve never had to deal with that. One of the benefits of not being hit on much in my life! I think I was called stuck up by an internet perv though – or was that a dream….But I do think those guys who call their rejectors ugly are lame. Like, why hit on someone in the first place if you think she’s ugly?!

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