Is it useful?

A site that I love and always read is Barking Up the Wrong Tree. I always find Eric’s writing on science and psychology so interesting and helpful.

I want to record here some of the ideas from his most recent post: This is How to Use Mindfulness to Make Better Decisions which really resonated with me today.

In a state of cognitive fusion, we’re inseparable from our thoughts: we’re welded to them, bonded to them, so caught up in them that we aren’t even aware that we are thinking…. Cognitive fusion basically means that our thoughts dominate our behavior.

Thus in ACT, we may talk with clients of being “pushed around by your thoughts” or “allowing thoughts to tell you what to do,” or we may talk of thoughts as bullies, or we may compare the mind to a fascist dictator, or we may ask, “What happens when you let that thought run your life?” Similarly, when our thoughts dominate our attention, we often talk about being “hooked,” “entangled,” “caught up,” or “carried off” by them.

From ACT Made Simple

This is certainly true for me. It’s also a concept I want to try to discuss with my daughter. I think the sooner you learn to identify your thoughts, the earlier you start to make better decisions, and manage your stress better, and… I just think it is key to everything.

But is it really true? Here’s the thing:

I don’t care.

And neither should you. When it comes to mindfulness, “Is it true?” is the wrong question.

The right question is: “Is it useful?”

…Does it motivate you to exercise, or eat well, or spend time doing the things that make life rich and rewarding?

This is an interesting concept to me at the moment. I have always thought that to motivate myself I needed a stick. Fear drove many of the things I did. Like fear of things going wrong. Everything was driven by buying into every random bad thought and treating it as fact. It just made me anxious.

Now I am trying to motivate myself from a place of kindness. So the old mean thoughts crop up, and there is a part of me that still thinks they are “useful” in that they are trying to stop bad things happening, but… it just backfires on me if I buy into the fear.

The thing is, I don’t always remember this straight away. I do get caught up. But I’m hoping if I practice this noticing and challenging of “junk” thoughts, that I will get better at it as time goes on.

Eric also has a book which I can highly recommend.