By Christine Allison, MA, LPC, NCC
Have you ever been so absorbed in your thoughts that you lose track of the world around you? Do you sometimes get so caught up in the intensity of your thoughts that it feels like you are actually experiencing something that you are really just thinking about?
In ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), these are examples of what we call “fusion” with our thoughts. Think of two pieces of metal that are fused together. They are stuck, welded, melded together – there is no space between them. We can experience our thoughts this way. Sometimes there is no space between us and our thoughts. We are consumed by them and immersed in them. In ACT language, we are “fused” with our thoughts.
How Does Fusion Work?
When we are fused with our thoughts, we see the world through the lens of our thoughts, as if our thoughts were sunglasses we are looking through. If the lens of our thoughts is a cheery color, this tends not to be a problem. But if the lens of our thoughts is a gloomy color (a default for many and especially for those struggling with depression and anxiety), this can create unnecessary suffering and keep us stuck in negative patterns.
Learn to Defuse
The ACT skill of “defusion” helps us change our relationship with our thoughts. Defusion enables us to get some space from our thoughts so that instead of being stuck inour thoughts and seeing the world through the lensof our thoughts, we can take a step back and look atour thoughts. When we look atour thoughts, we see them for what thoughts actually are – words and images that pop up in our minds.
Our thoughts are not real in the same way that a 3-dimensional object is real. When we are defused from our thoughts, we see that they may or may not be true and that they may or may not be helpful.
Try this Trick
A very useful question to ask about a difficult or painful thought is: “Is this a helpful thought for what is important to me right now?” If the answer is “No, this is not a helpful thought,” then we can let that thought pass on by like a car driving past on the street. We don’t need to stop the car (thought) and examine it or engage with it. And we certainly don’t need to jump in the car (thought) and go with it where it is going. We can let it just pass on by and refocus our attention and energy on something more important – something that matters to us in a much deeper way than some random, unhelpful thought!
Help is Available
For more ideas on how to handle your thoughts, contact us today at Wellness Treatment Center for an appointment with a helpful practitioner. We’re available to help you start to navigate new thought pathways, using objectivity to create positive thoughts.