Last week we identified that defusion is a key concept in contacting the present moment, another core process of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). But what is defusion? How can we simply let go of our thoughts?
Defusion is the act of watching your thinking. It means learning to step back and separate or detach from our thoughts, images, and memories. Often times we let our thoughts push us around. For instance, having the thought that, “I’m a bad student” or “I’m not smart enough”, pushes our emotions and actions in a negative direction (you might start feeling sad, defeated, unmotivated, and you might overeat, drink alcohol, or avoid studying as a result). Defusion is allowing those thoughts to pop up, wave at them from a distance, and then not getting tangled up in them.
Defusion is hard! So often we are quick to think thoughts and then immediately engage with them. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can change our thinking, like we can alter our emotions and behaviors. Once you start noticing your thoughts, you might be able to pick out repeating patterns or thoughts that come up, over and over again. Try jotting those down and thinking about where they come from. Remember, you don’t have to be your thoughts – especially the negative ones.