As a therapist and coach, I use holistic tools to help my clients reset their overwhelmed mind. One of the modalities I use is ACT which stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Before I dive into the three life changing principles to reset your overwhelmed mind, I want to share the background of ACT
- A = Accept your thoughts and feelings, and be present
- C = Choose a valued direction
- T = Take action
The goal of ACT is to create a rich, full, and meaningful life while accepting the pain that inevitably is part of the journey. ACT puts a big emphasis on mindfulness and surrendering to the present moment. It is a powerful modality that helps us to create distance from our thoughts and emotions.
ACT invites us to consider that there are two core psychological processes: Cognitive Fusion and Experiential Avoidance. These two are responsible for most of our overwhelmed mind.
Let’s explore both of these:
Cognitive Fusion is believing in our thoughts. In other words, being enmeshed with them
When you create diffusion in the mind, you can see a thought for what it is, just an ongoing experience of words or pictures inside your head. You might recognize that a thought is not true (which follows much of Byron Katies work). You might also recognize that you don’t have to follow the mind just because it tells you to do something. You are not afraid of the mind in this diffused state, because your recognize thoughts are not YOU.
Experiential Avoidance is the chronic struggle to push away, avoid, or get rid of unwanted thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You may have noticed that the more time and energy you spend trying to avoid or get rid of your thoughts and emotions, the more you’re likely to suffer.
Let’s consider for a moment the cycle of anxiety for someone with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety and overwhelm is natural for all of us, but it becomes chronic when we are in experiential avoidance. This means you try to avoid anything that would activate the anxiety and overwhelm you don’t want to feel.
We do this with anything, though. Experiential avoidance is so very common. We are seeking pleasure and avoiding pain at all costs.
These 3 principles are what’s called the ACT Triflex:
- Be Present: Observing yourself, watching your thoughts and making contact with the present moment through being mindful.
- Open Up: We open up when we diffuse from our thoughts, and choose acceptance of life’s circumstances. This doesn’t mean we don’t try to work towards change, but that we surrender to the need to control what is uncontrollable.
- Do What Matters: Knowing your most deeply held values, what matters most to you, and committing to action of these values.
An overwhelmed mind is a clear sign you are diffused with thoughts, which I also call sub-personalities. Often, when in this state, we are also in experiential avoidance, suppressing or trying to “fix” the problem at hand. This means we are not being accepting of what is.
Let’s try a meditation to piece these together to reset overwhelm:
First Principle: Be Present
Close your eyes, focusing on your breath
Notice the thoughts. Watch your mind like a movie. What kind of movie is playing right now? Comedy, Thriller, Mystery, etc. Just label and come back to your breath
Feel the air on your skin, take in the sounds of the room
Second Principle: Open Up
Notice where you feel the overwhelm inside. Is it in your chest? Your belly? If it’s hard to pinpoint just stay with the feeling of overwhelm.
Let the thoughts come of all you have to do and all the time you don’t have to do it. Can you be open to it? Even just for a moment? Can you give it permission to be here in the recognition it is only energy moving through you?
Let it be for just a few moments, then take a deep breath and open your eyes
Third Principle: Do What Matters
Reflecting on what your values are: Is it to be loving? Kind to yourself? Is it to move at a slower pace and be intentional in your day?
Choose one value, and commit to this throughout the rest of your day. This helps you get back on track.
If you practice these daily or anytime you have an overwhelm attack, it will help you reconnect with the true resilience deep within.
Please do share in the comments what it is like for you as your practice! I invite you to join our Facebook community at the button below for weekly live trainings and meditations, resources and support for the spiritual awakening journey