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Cognitive Diffusion

Tuesday, March 12: write post about square breathing, make mention of Wednesday's post about cognitive defusion

Wednesday morning, March 13: write post about Calm App

Wednesday morning one minute later: remember that I was supposed to be posting about cognitive defusion today not the already posted Calm App post, update Tuesday post to say "later this week" instead of "tomorrow". Pretend to have it all together. Daydream about vacationing in some tropical land.

Thursday, March 14, thoughts: "I've got to get that Cognitive Defusion post created." "I am so bad at time management." *Googles time management tricks for 2 hours instead of creating Cognitive Defusion post* immediately followed by Googling all the other things I've been meaning to learn. Sigh.

Friday, March 15: You know that scene in Home Alone where the mom just knows something is off, is trying to figure it out on the plane and then all of a sudden sits up in her airplane seat and yells, "KEVIN!" That was me.

Friday night. Except replace, "KEVIN!" with "COGNITIVE DEFUSION!". Also, I wasn't on a plane, it wasn't 1990, and I'm definitely more of a Elastigirl from The Incredibles type of mom than a Kate Mcallister type. I know, because I took a BuzzFeed quiz online to make sure. Those are always spot on ;)

Anyways, speaking of time management, *ahem*...I digress.

Saturday & Sunday (and by the time I post this, Monday): multiple moments of thinking about the post, thoughts circling around the main theme of time management but really core thoughts about being "bad at this". I was busy working on other projects and worked hard to keep them at bay because I really didn't have time to devote to writing until the evening and I certainly didn't have time to have such thoughts flooding my already overly filled mind. A weekend sprinkled with negative self talk. Ironic, considering what you're about to learn.

Have you ever experienced that? Moments where thoughts become so big that they become your truth?

We have a tendency to overthink things. We over-identify with our thoughts. We become attached to them, fused even, which makes them feel powerful. And we can be left feeling powerless. Except, we aren't powerless. The truth is, these are just thoughts. It's also SUPER normal that we feel powerless against them. This feeling of powerlessness brings a sense of urgency to stop them. And so we try. Sometimes at any cost.

Avoid the feeling.

Ignore the feeling.

Cope with the feeling.

*enter Cognitive Defusion stage right*

A technique used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), cognitive defusion is an alternative to the avoid/ignore/cope cycle. Cognitive defusion encourages us to look AT thoughts instead of FROM thoughts. So instead of "I AM BAD AT THIS", I start to move away from the thought so that it doesn't become a part of me.

When we notice a thought rather than attempted to avoid or ignore, we acknowledge its presence without allowing it to control us. Hold the thought lightly. Don't get caught up in the content.This process helps you to live with your values. Allowing you to get out of the cycle of thinking thoughts are bad. They aren't bad. They just are. Give them space, then let them go.

(Alternative ending: brain enters Disney phase of ADHD and sings Let It Go from the Frozen soundtrack for the remainder of the week… You’re welcome.)

Here’s a video I have used often with clients to explain this technique further:

Now it’s your turn. Try out this technique this week. Let us know how it worked for you! Need someone to walk you through it? Give us a call!


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