What if your thoughts, even ones that you previously considered to be negative, harmful, unproductive, or even toxic, when put into context weren’t the monsters that you have made them out to be? Welcome to the world of Functional Contextualism.” This key principle of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) will help you understand that often even our most unproductive thoughts when put into the right context, can simply be stories that our brain is trying to get us to buy into in order to protect us. Too often we hear that we simply need to change the thought, and your behavior will naturally follow. But this isn’t as easy as we make it out to be. Have you ever thought about running away from a situation and then stayed? Or have you ever gotten so mad at someone that you thought about yelling at them to get even...and then not yelled at them? Then clearly your thoughts don’t always control your behaviors. The key is learning how to put the thoughts in the proper context. In today’s episode, we’re going to geek out on an ACT term called “Functional Contextualism.” Functional Contextualism will help you immediately make a small shift in your thought process to recognize thoughts for what they truly are, just pictures and words inside of our head...yet we often give them too much meaning...when taken into context, our thoughts can be clues to what we’re truly afraid of, and, better yet, what we truly want.
In this episode, Tony references Russ Harris’ values worksheet, as well as a sample chapter from his book, ACT Made Simple. You can find this information here https://res.cloudinary.com/psychwire/image/upload/v1519263962/pw.com/resources/harris/Values_Checklist_-_Russ_Harris.pdf and here https://psychwire.com/harris/resources
Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the "uh's" and "um's" that, in his words, "must be created by wizards and magic!" because it's that good! To learn more about Descript click here https://descript.com?lmref=v95myQ
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This episode of The Virtual Couch is sponsored by http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch With the continuing “sheltering” rules that are spreading across the country PLEASE do not think that you can’t continue or begin therapy now. http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your own mental health a priority, http://betterhelp.com/virtualcouch offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.
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[00:00:00] Ok, so have you ever felt like your, I don't know, broken something's wrong with you? Why do I keep thinking the things that I'm thinking? Well, by the end of today's episode, I really want to convince you that nothing's wrong with you. And we're going to go super deep, geeky psychology today. You're going to learn all about functional contextual ism. That and so much more coming up on this episode of The Virtual Couch.
[00:00:36] Hey, everybody, thank you for tuning in to Episode 230 of The Virtual Couch, I am your host, Tony, over me. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified mindful. I have a co-writer, speaker, husband, father of four, ultramarathon runner and creator of the Path Back. And it is the all new brand new reboot Path Back 2.0. If you have not been there for a while, if you have been thinking about putting pornography behind you once and for all and is still being done in a straight face, told the shame, become the person you always wanted to be. We just head over to pathbackrecovery.com. There is an all new e-book, five myths that people make when trying to overcome pornography. That doesn't make sense, does it? There are five myths, five myths to be overcome, five myths that are misunderstood. As a matter of fact, that is all the more reason I would highly recommend you go to pathbackrecovery.com and see see what the title of that e-book actually is. But I have already been doing some pretty exciting things with the new Path Back recovery program, including including a weekly question and answer call. So if you are interested in learning more about that, you can drop me a note at Contact that path back recovery dotcom.
[00:01:43] And just right now, go over to TonyOverbay.com, sign up to find out more information about upcoming programs because the magnetic marriage course is coming soon. And it is wonderful. I am so proud and excited of the magnetic marriage course. There are some concepts, some things there that are going to help you communicate more effectively with your spouse. And that is again coming soon. Dates will be announced soon, but be the first to know about the magnetic marriage course and go to TonyOverbay.com and sign up to find out more and just step over it. Instagram, if you don't mind, at Virtual Couch. I have a couple of people that are just doing some amazing things behind the scenes and putting out some just really good content, taking quotes from my episodes or episodes where there were other guests, and then putting those up on the Instagram page. Or also I believe that Tony Overbay, licensed marriage and family therapist and just encouraging a little bit of feedback and to get some of your thoughts on some of the content that I've been sharing. Now, speaking of content that I have been sharing, this is one of those episodes that I'm just going to go off the cuff. I'm going to read a little bit, but I want to just talk because this is about acceptance and commitment therapy. If you listen to the virtual couch for a while, you will know that is my therapy modality of choice, acceptance and commitment.
[00:02:57] Therapy has been an absolute game changer in the way that I act and practice as a therapist. And it is not that I am putting down any other modality or type of therapy. I was schooled at a grad school as a cognitive behavioral therapist. And just really quickly, I'll give you my passionate speech. Cognitive behavioral therapy is wonderful. A lot of motivational speakers work off of that. A lot of amazing life coaches work from a cognitive behavioral therapy lens and a lot of therapists. It's the major modality that's taught in therapy school and grad school because it's been around for a long time. And cognitive behavioral therapy will say that your thoughts lead to your emotions and your emotions lead your behaviors. Now, that is very simply put. And so the theory behind that and we'll talk more about this in a minute, is that if you change your thought and it works from this paradigm of considering your thoughts as automatic negative thoughts, it's a cute acronym of ants and you're going to stomp out the ants or it's your stinking thinking. And any of those acronyms or that concept is saying that you have these automatic negative thoughts that just come up and then you that leads to an emotion and then that emotion leads to a behavior. And again, I was a practicing cognitive behavioral therapist for many, many moons, many years.
[00:04:12] And then after attending a training on acceptance and commitment therapy, it just changed everything, changed everything in my life and also my practice. So acceptance and commitment therapy says, instead of looking at that is, hey, what's wrong with me? My thoughts are wrong. My thoughts are automatically negative or that I'm broken of some sort. It's saying that, no, you actually have the thoughts, feelings, emotions that you have because you're a human being and you have been through all of the life experience that you've been through up to this point that causes you to feel, think or behave the way you do. And again, it's because of your nature, your nurture, your birth order, your DNA, your abandonment, your rejection, your hopes, your fears, your dreams, your losses, that all of those are unique to you as an individual. And that is why you think, feel or behave the way you do. If you didn't have the thoughts, feelings and emotions that you had, then I often interject and there that you may be a robot or perhaps a psychopath, which I don't believe that you are. So you are human and that is why you have the thoughts, feelings and emotions you do. Hey, I know that the significance of what I'm doing right now might not even seem like a big deal because you're just listening to the podcast.
[00:05:21] But after I edited the podcast, I just had this this aha moment, this epiphany. So I came in here and split the file. And I'm recording this on Tuesday morning, really early before I released the podcast. But first of all, and I really didn't mean this to be an add. But I was editing with the software called Descript that I mentioned in the past that is made or created by wizards and magicians, and I'll have a link in the show notes. But basically I upload this audio file that was already done and put it into descript. And then I say remove filler words and it shows all the uhs and ahs. And it is it is amazing. I mean, it makes me realize how often I say and ah, but I'll put a code or not even a code, a link in the show notes. So if you want to go check out the script, give it a shot because it's just, it's, it's next level, it's future. Again, magicians and wizards have created it, but I'm about to just go big on this whole concept and acceptance and commitment therapy called functional contextual textualism. And I got on a roll. I mean this is stuff that I could talk about all day. So prepare for the passion.
[00:06:21] But before I even go there, the epiphany that I had is we're about to talk an awful lot about thoughts. And so I was looking back through the book The Confidence Gap last night, as I was I was I was falling asleep, which led to some pretty crazy dreams. I'm not going to lie, but I just had I was reading the chapter on thoughts again, and I wanted to just throw a couple of things out there before I get into the meat of this episode. What our thoughts. So Dr. Ross Harris in the book The Confidence Gap says thoughts are words and pictures inside of our head. And it can be that simplistic. There are a ton of different categories of thoughts, including memories and images and fantasies and beliefs and ideas and attitudes and assumptions and values, goals, plans, visions, dreams. So there are all kinds of thoughts, but in a nutshell, they are words and pictures inside of our head. But often we just give them so much value. And he also talked about that. If you kind of step back and look at your thoughts, our thoughts have a tendency to be negative. And earlier in the book The Confidence Gap, he talks a little bit about how our brain has evolved to go to this kind of naturally negative vibe.
[00:07:24] But he says, again, that's perfectly natural and normal because the human mind is very quick to judge and criticize and compare and point out what's not good enough. And that, in essence, is telling us what we need to improve upon, even if it's not necessarily something that we care about. And so, although our culture bombards us with the messages about the importance of positive thinking, I think it's important to note before I go big in this episode that the simple fact is the human mind has evolved to think negatively. And so then he goes on and just talks about some really great reasons why we've evolved to be a bit of negative thinkers. But one of the things that I wanted to bring up before I just jump in here big is this concept that we often hear that your thoughts control your emotions and your emotions control your behaviors. And so I just wanted to read out of the confidence gap. Russ Harris says another common idea is that negative thoughts are problematic because, quote, our thoughts control our actions. And I just feel like he laid this out much better than I do in this episode later. So he said if this were true, the human race would be in big trouble.
[00:08:29] After all, how often have you gotten so mad at somebody that you care about, that you thought about hurting them in some way or yelling at them or shaking them, relieving them or getting back at them. And I love how he kind of has an aside there where he says, be honest with yourself. We've all had these thoughts at times. So now just imagine if those thoughts had actually controlled you. If you had actually gone and done all those hurtful things, what would have happened to your closest relationships? Would you still even have any friends left? And he said, have you ever thought about quitting something? But you persisted. Have you ever thought about running away from a situation but stayed and stuck it out? So clearly our thoughts don't it's not just this A to B thing or thoughts don't naturally control our actions. They certainly influence what we do, but they don't control what we do. And so what we're going to talk about today is how you really can reduce the influence of those negative thoughts without trying to get rid of them. So with that said, let me get back to this episode on functional textualism and what to do with those problematic thoughts.
[00:09:27] So a quick example that I like to give, and I give this one often because it was during the time that I went to an acceptance and commitment therapy training. I was working with a client. They had been heavy as a child and I was working with them for some social anxiety issues. They wanted to meet people they wanted to date. So they were attending these single functions, these functions specifically designed for single adults to meet and hopefully find each other wonderful end date and live happily ever after. So when this person would walk into a room, everyone would turn and look at the person and the person would immediately think, oh, my gosh, they're staring at me. They're making fun of me. They're all making fun of me. So with a cognitive behavioral lens, you would say, hey, there, your thoughts are automatically negative. You're automatically thinking these negative thoughts that they're all looking at you and thinking these negative things. And so that would lead to an emotion of sadness in this situation and a behavior of turning around and leaving the room. So in a cognitive behavioral therapy model, you would then say, what else could they be thinking? Could they be thinking that you look awesome? OK, well, if they did think you look awesome, what would that how would you feel about that? Well, maybe I would feel a little bit of happy happiness or excitement, and then what would that behavior be? I would run into that room, jump up on the table and start singing in Oklahoma at the top of my lungs.
[00:10:44] So that's that would be the homework. So then person goes to another activity, opens the door. Everybody looks and this person says, I don't think that they think I look great and I'm not singing Oklahoma at the top of my lungs. So then they would return to therapy and say, what is wrong with me? And so as once I was learning acceptance and commitment therapy with this particular client, it was an immediate shift. The shift was you know what actually tell me more about your past.
[00:11:09] Tell me about growing up. And they talked about being very overweight and they talked about people looking at them wherever they went. And they were so aware of the stares and glares of everybody around them, the jokes, the things that were said as they walked by to their face and even behind their back as they walked by.
[00:11:26] So as they then lost a tremendous amount of weight. Now, when they entered the room and everybody just turned and looked, then they had those thoughts of people are making fun of them or looking at him or thinking he looks bad because that's all of his experience growing up, that people had been looking at him and had been making fun of him. So the first part was, man, if he didn't think, that would be crazy. So he's human. He's had all the experiences that he's had. And now if we even add into there, if somebody says, well, just don't think that, is that going to work? No.
[00:11:59] So that's where our good old friend psychological reactance or the instant negative reaction of being told what to do kicks in when someone is told, don't think that our brain actually says, I'll think whatever I want. And in fact, they'll think what you're just telling me not to think. But I'm getting off the path here. But so in acceptance and commitment therapy, there's that acceptance. You're not broken. You think the way you think because you are the only one who has been through the situations that you've been through. And I absolutely love that concept. So here's the geeky application of that today. And I have brought this up in therapy in sessions often, but I've felt like it's a little bit too dry to bring up on a podcast. So bear with me now. I am a huge fan of Dr. Ross Harris. He is the author of The Confidence Gap The Happiness Trap. Those books that I love, those books that I referred to so often and they are easy reads and they really do lay out the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy.
[00:12:54] Russ Harris also has a book called Act Made Simple, and he has a chapter called The House of Act. And in this House of Act, there is this concept called functional contextualism. So it's probably something that one might glance over and not give it much more thought. But the concept is so good. So I'm going to read from this Chapter three, The House of Act by Russ Harris in the Book Act made simple. So Dr. Harris says functional cantextualism. He said, let's start with the ground up with functional textualism. He said it's the philosophy that underlies a lot of the concepts that go beneath acceptance and commitment therapy. OK, so he says, imagine, if you will, a chair that has four legs. So now imagine that something has happened to this chair so that the moment anybody sits on it, one of the legs drops off. So would you describe this chair as broken or faulty or damaged? Would you call it a dysfunctional chair or even a maladaptive chair? And I want you to think for a second, would you consider this three legged chair is broken or faulty, damaged or even maladaptive? And I love when I do this exercise in my office because I feel like people for the most part, are going to be pretty honest and say, yeah, I would call it that. I feel like this is one of those where if I was teaching a Sunday school class and telling this, given this example to a bunch of 12 year old boys, they would say, no, I wouldn't say that. I think it's perfectly fine. So just because they wanted to be difficult. But if you're I feel like if you're being honest, you. Yeah, a three legged chair, one would consider broken, faulty, damaged, maladaptive, maybe even dysfunctional.
[00:14:31] And Ross Harris says, I've asked this question to many hundreds of therapists than they always answer yes to at least one of the above. The problem is this instinctive answer. Yes, there is something wrong or faulty or flawed, and the chair forgets to take into account the all important role of context. So sit with that for a moment. The context, do we give enough context to a situation or do we give enough context to what we bring into a situation or what someone else brings into a situation? He says, yes, there is something wrong, faulty or flawed. But again, when we put context into play, he says, I want to invite you now to think laterally. Think of at least three or four contexts in which we would say this chair functions very effectively to serve our purposes. So again, what are some contexts that a three legged chair would serve its purpose? And I love doing this exercise in my office. Sometimes people come up with some amazing things. Sometimes people draw a blank and that's OK. So he said, Did you come up with some? Here are a few. Playing a practical joke, creating an art exhibit of broken furniture, finding props for a clown's actor comedy show, and I love at this point when I'm reading these, a lot of times people go, OK, I get it, I see where you're going. Maybe demonstrating design flaws and furniture making class improving balance or coordination or muscle strength. And he says you try sitting without making the leg fall off of sitting down, without making the leg fall off, or hoping to injure yourself at work to get a compensation claim.
[00:15:58] So in all of those contexts, the chair functions very effectively to serve our purposes. So he goes on to say that this example illustrates how functional contextualism gets its name. It looks at how things function in specific contexts. So from the viewpoint of this functional contextualism, no thought or feeling or memory is inherently problematic or dysfunctional or pathological. Rather, it depends on the context. So in a context, that includes what's referred to as cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance, then he says our thoughts and feelings and memories often function in a manner that's toxic or harmful or life distorting. So let me go back and put that one in perspective. So in a context that includes cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance. So if you cannot get yourself to complete a project, a research paper, for example, if you then think, man, what is wrong with me? And now I'm fused to this thought cognitive fusion of useless thought that I will never get this paper done, that I'm horrible at writing papers, then that leads to it's called experiential avoidance, which is in essence, I'm going to avoid this. I'm going to do something else. I'm going to turn to something else right now because I just fuse to this thought that I will never finish this paper, that I don't know what I'm talking about.
[00:17:14] I'm horrible at papers. And look at all those ways that your brain is trying to fuse you, hook you to this story of I don't even know what I'm writing about. I'm not even good at this subject, because if it confuse you to that thought, then you will avoid writing the paper. So there is that experiential avoidance. So he said, again, if the context includes cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance, then our thoughts or feelings or memories often do function in a manner that's toxic or it's harmful or is life distorting because you're not going to write the paper and you're going get the bad grade, you're going to feel like what's wrong with me? And all of a sudden I'm failing out of school and I'll never have a career. And so in that situation, those thoughts are toxic, harmful, life distorting, he said. However, in a context that includes diffusion and acceptance, i.e. mindfulness, then those very same thoughts, feelings, memories function very differently. They have a much less impact and influence over us. They still may be painful, but they're no longer toxic or harmful or life distorting. And more importantly, they don't hold us back from value living.
[00:18:18] So this was a legitimate session that I was talking with someone recently. So they did need to finish a paper. And so if they have a value based goal of education or completion or follow through, then the fact that they aren't even sure if they know the subject or if they their brain is trying to hook them to one of these stories, it's trying to get them to fuse to the story of what if my paper's bad? What if I don't what if I haven't prepared enough? What if I don't get it finished? So in any of those situations, if you've used to that thought, then you don't have to write the paper but diffusion. So in context, those thoughts in context, if you diffuse from those, if you just think your brain for watching out for you.
[00:18:58] Ok, thank you Brain. I may not know everything I need to know about the subject or. All right, that's a fair point. I might not get a good grade on it. Or even better yet, you're right. I might not finish in time. Thank you for filling me in on that. Thank you for making me aware of that. I know you're looking out for me. Then in that context, you defuse and then accept that it's OK. I could have studied more acceptance or all right, I might not get the best grade. There's some acceptance, so acceptance and then diffusion and all of a sudden those thoughts in context, they just aren't really a big deal.
[00:19:33] They don't hold you back from value living. You continue to turn back to that paper and continue to write the paper. Your brain will still try. Hey, you're not making very much progress. OK, thank you, Brian. I appreciate the warning. I appreciate the heads up. I'm not even arguing if that's a true or false statement. That's not a very productive one for me, trying to get this paper done. So models. And here's what gets really cool. This is why I like the whole concept of functional contextual ism. Most models of psychology are based on a philosophy called mechanism. So mechanistic models treat the mind as if it were a machine made up of lots of separate parts. That if you still hung in with me this far, I think this is what becomes pretty fascinating about a lot of motivational speaker is a lot of people that are using things like cognitive behavioral therapy in life coaching and that sort of thing, that it's based off of this mechanistic thinking, this mechanistic model, again, that treats the mind as if it were a machine made up of separate parts. So in this mechanistic model, problematic thoughts and feelings are just simply seen as faulty parts of the machine or errors in the structure of the machine, so the aim in such models of this mechanistic thinking is to repair or replace or remove the faulty parts so that the machine can function normally.
[00:20:49] So mechanistic models of psychology, they assume that there are things such inherently dysfunctional or maladaptive or pathological as thoughts and feelings and memories. So in other words, in this mechanistic model, then there are memories, thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges, schemas narratives, ego states, core beliefs and so on, which are fundamentally problematic or fundamentally dysfunctional or pathological. And so much like that faulty chair, they either need to be fixed or removed entirely. So mechanism has been the most successful philosophy of science and most scientific fields. So it's not surprising that most models in psychology are based on some sort of this mechanistic philosophy and that there's nothing wrong or bad or inferior or basic about the concept of mechanism. But Russ Hirose merely emphasizes that functional contextual ism is a radically different philosophical approach to the mainstream. And so it naturally leads to a different way of doing therapy. It leads to a way of saying that those are just thoughts and feelings and emotions and urges and ego states and all of those things. And so taken out of context that they can seem very scary and heavy.
[00:22:07] Taken in context. It's just your brain trying to protect you, your brain trying to warn you, your brain trying to stay in this path of least resistance. So it's so important to just learn the concept of context in that model where I'm panicked about finishing a research paper, my brain is actually looking out for me because it's afraid that if I don't finish that, I'm going to be angry with myself pushing myself, or it's afraid that if I don't put in my best work that I'm going get a bad grade, I'm going to feel worse. So even the concepts of things like anxiety, it's there to protect this. It's there to keep our brains in this fight or flight state, in theory, to keep us safe, to keep us nimble and ready to run and ready to flee, because it's we're afraid of the unknown. And I love talking about this concept. While I have this soapbox. Let me continue. Our brains are designed as a don't get killed device. That is what they do. And they have this idea. And this is so funny when we're talking about our own brain, because I'm thinking of mine right now as I'm thinking about it, which I think is meta is the kids say, but our own brains believe that they just have this finite amount of electrical current or electrical activity.
[00:23:20] So the brain's goal is to chill and relax. So the more we think of patterns of thought, the more we do patterns of behavior, the more our brain says, I think this guy is going to keep doing this, or I think this guy is going to keep thinking this. And when you are thinking new thoughts and acting upon new stimuli, your brain is going to work off of a little bit more electrical activity. And it's fine. Again, it does not have a finite amount. Somebody needs to wake the brain up and tell it that. But so our own brain, though, thinks that it does. So every time that we do something, every time that we develop these patterns of behavior, we're paying a little more attention. And at some point when our brain finally says this is what this guy does, this is how he ties his shoe, this is how he backs out of the driveway, this is what he thinks about whenever he goes to work or this is what he thinks about whenever he gets down or depressed, then those thought patterns become habitual and they're moved into this habit center of the brain called the basal ganglia. It's a little walnut sized part of the brain. That is where these habits are stored. And the key part being that your brain does not require a lot of electrical activity when it pulls things from the basal ganglia, from this habit center. So it wants to put things into order. It wants to to identify patterns so that it can put these things in your basal ganglia so that you can use as little electrical activity as you can, so that you can just chill and relax and your brain will live forever. But are you living your best life in that situation?
[00:24:54] The answer is no. You're living a life that is more fearful. It's more avoidant. So learning these tools, this functional, can textualism that learning in context that first of all, you have all these thoughts and feelings and emotions that you have because you are a human being who's been through all the experiences that you've been through. And now when we can identify what really matters to you, what are the values that are core to you, not the ones that your parents have told you would be important.
[00:25:20] You are society's told you it would be important, even your church, your work, the society, just when you're told here's what you should do. Here's what you should think. Here's how you should believe then nobody likes to be should on. So the more that we. Figure out what our particular unique gifts in life are, and we all have these unique individual gifts and perspective and talents and takes and it's a matter of when we find them, then we start to move toward them. Those become our value based goals. But then here's that part I just laid out for you. It's scary. Your brain thinks I don't know what's going to happen if this guy follows his dream or follows is this new path. So I'm going to throw up a lot of what ifs. And if I can get him to hook or fuse to one of those what ifs, then he's not going to go off and do something scary. He's not going to go off and try to learn some new skill or put himself in a new relationship that might hurt him. He's not going to put himself out there and be more vulnerable because that maybe hasn't worked in the past. And I'm worried about if it's going to work in the future and bless your brains little peak squishy heart that it's still just trying to do you a favor. A solid our brain looks to the past and says, hey, this happened.
[00:26:30] And the most productive, powerful thing that we can do is say, thank you, brain. That didn't happen and I appreciate the information. And then it'll say, what if this thing happens in the future? And then the same concept, you know what, brain? That is a very good point. And I will be very aware that could happen in the future. But all I can deal with is what I have in front of me, what is right now. And even then, here comes anxiety saying, OK, what if, though I'm a little bit scared, there's a lot of stuff going on here. And even then we learn to turn to our breathing, a little bit of mindfulness, try to lower that heart rate, get that cortisol level down, and we can be as present as we can. And we start to turn toward those value-based goals. And then that is when we can start to move toward a more productive, more just rich, fulfilling life, because that is life is to be lived. Life is to be explored and lived. And every day that you are fusing to these, I don't think I can do it or I don't think you understand those stories. And I know that part can be incredibly hard. But every day that you're fusing to that and every day that you're saying maybe I'll try tomorrow, maybe I'll try next month, maybe I'll try next year. That is experiential avoidance, my friends. And that is not the key to living a powerful, productive life, but being able to recognize this concept, this functional can textualism that our brain is not this mechanistic model. And the thoughts and feelings and emotions we have are not faulty parts there because of our human experience.
[00:27:55] And then learn that what to do with those in context. Thank your brain for bringing those to your awareness and learn how to diffuse and just turn toward the present, toward a value based goal that means something to you. I could go on and on and on, but I hope that you get an appreciate and understand the concept of functional contextual ism. While I'm talking about acceptance and commitment therapy, I did have an opportunity to train a few hundred therapists last week, Via Zoom, and it was incredible, honest to goodness. It was one of the most powerful moments that I've had in my long career as a therapist. I was able to train them on stages of faith, stages of life, faith, crisis, faith journeys, acceptance and commitment therapy being true to your values, your beliefs, all of these things. This is part of why I was so fired up to just talk about this today, because it's been so on my mind after the preparation for this training. And I will end with this concept. But in this training, I was talking about acceptance and commitment therapy, and I was talking about a concept that is, again, another game changer, which is socially compliant goals. So there's a section in the book, A Liberated Mind, and that is by Dr. Steven Hayes, the founder of ACT. And it's in this section where he's talking about values and he talks about he says in the section about values, values. It requires pivoting from socially compliant goals to chosen values, which then redirects the yearning for self direction and purpose.
[00:29:17] And doctor Hayes, he says people often attempt to achieve goals because they feel that they have to. Otherwise, people we care about or whose views we care about would be displeased or they will be disappointed in themselves. But research shows that such, quote, socially compliant goals give rise to motivation that is weak and ineffective. We may try to drive our own behavior with such external goals, but we also secretly resent them because they undermine our own process of unfolding this, he says. This yearning for self direction and purpose cannot be fully met by goal achievement, since it's always either in the future. I mean, I haven't even met my goal yet or in the past. I already met my goal so that he talked about values and why values are so important, because values are chosen qualities of being and doing, such as being a caring parent, being a dependable friend, being socially aware, being loyal, being honest, being courageous. My very favorite value is being authentic and saying what I feel in my heart. So living in accordance with our values. Now that is never finished. It's a lifelong journey. It's not a goal driven journey, and it provides a way to create enduring sources of motivation based on meaning, because ultimately what your values are is up to you. Your values are simply a matter between you. And the person in the mirror. So if you don't already have an idea of what your core values are, I want you to pick up a book or Google acceptance and commitment, or look at a liberated mind or the happiness trap or look in the show notes of today's episode.
[00:30:50] And I'll link to a wonderful worksheet by Ross Harris, where he lays out a lot of values, 40 to 60 values with definitions. And you owe it to yourself. You really do. To go through and find out what values are important to you and why. And this is an exercise that you can do on your own and then turn toward those values, find things that you can do that are part of these value based goals, because if you are not acting upon a value based goal, then you are doing a socially compliant goal. And again, remember, your motivation is weak and ineffective because it goes against your process of unfolding. All right. I could go on and on and on, but I am so grateful that you took the time to spend with me here on the virtual couch. I welcome any feedback. Contact that TonyOverbay.com will find out more about the magnetic marriage course. That's coming up. And if you have stuck with me this long, I am about to unveil a launch, invite people into an online group. It's ready to go for any women that are are breaking free from some relationships with perhaps a narcissistic spouse or someone is in a relationship with somebody that's struggling with narcissistic personality disorder. So if that's you and you're interested in learning more about this group, please text text me, please email me a contact at TonyOverbay.com. OK, taking us out today, as per usual, the wonderful the talented Aurora Florence with its wonderful.