ACT Episode 2: Waking Up the Witness
Episode 2 is focused on "waking up the witness" and increasing your ability to be aware of what you are creating with your psychological gifts and determining if what you are currently creating is lined up with your core values
Note: These videos are designed for you to watch in sequence, so please start with Episode 1.
Episode 2: Waking Up the Witness This episode starts with the question: “Is Happiness Normal?” and challenges “the myths of happiness” identified by Russ Harris in The Happiness Trap. These myths include: 1) it is normal to be happy; 2) healthy people are happy people; 3) if you experience unhappiness there is something wrong with you; 4) if you are unhappy it is on you to fix yourself, meaning you should be able to use your willpower to get rid of your unhappy thoughts. Buying into these myths can cause a person feeling normal human emotions to become scared, upset, frustrated, or judgmental with themselves for how they are feeling. We can then begin struggling with these thoughts and feelings, actively trying to get them to go away, which only makes them bigger. Like struggling in quicksand, the more we struggle with difficult thoughts/emotions the more we are going to sink deeper into the muck of the experience.
Having difficult or painful emotions is a natural part of the human condition. We all have difficult emotions sometimes. When we accept this basic truth of human life, we can stop struggling with the fact that we are having a hard time, and we can shift our attention towards effectively navigating the hard time.
The first skill one needs to develop in order to effectively navigate the inevitable pain of life is to be able to observe or notice that we are having a hard moment. Waking up the part of us that can witness what we are experiencing in this very moment can help us become more aware of what we are creating. Acceptance Commitment Theory calls this part of ourselves: The Observing Self.
We are constantly making up mini movies in our minds, and we don’t know we are doing it, and we get fooled into thinking the movies we are making up are “reality”. Noticing what we are making up can help us assess whether what we are making up is useful, necessary, helpful, or lined up with our values. Our observing self can notice when we are innocently resisting something that is happening in our circumstances. It can help us realize that it’s in our best interest to “defuse” from this thought in order to make space for a more helpful thought to come to us.
After watching this episode feel free to visit The Happiness Trap website and access the free resources related to Acceptance Commitment Theory.
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This episode introduces the skill of “Connection” which is an informal mindfulness practice. Shifting our attention to the here and now allows us to release our attachment to our current thought, making space for a brand new ones to come through.
This episode explains how we get “fused” with our thinking and how dangerous it can be to take our thinking seriously. Learning how to “defuse” or unhook from your own thinking is an important part of developing your psychological flexibility.