ACT

This may seem really random, but I thought some of you out there might find it kind of cool or interesting. As a counselor, I’ve been mostly trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (depression/substance use) and cognitive processing therapy (for ptsd/trauma). Anyway, I’ve been learning more about a type of therapy called ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It’s so ridiculously powerful. It kind of makes me giddy inside when I think about it. I just wanted to present to you some examples of the powerful metaphors that ACT uses to help clients experience something different. The following is some excerpts from the  book I am reading called Learning ACT. Ah, warm fuzzies!

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Chessboard metaphor: The self (i.e., the arena or context in which experience takes place) is likened to a chessboard. The chess pieces are said to correspond to the client’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and so on. Chess is a war game and the board (“I”) has no real investment in how the war turns out. The therapist can also note that, although the various pieces are threatening to each other, they are not threatening to the board, which simply touches and supports them.

Client: [immediately after the chessboard metaphor with actual chessboard and pieces used] So, I’m the board and my thoughts and feelings are the pieces? But what about my thoughts about who I am?

Therapist: [picks up more chess pieces and sets them on the board] More pieces to be added to the board.

C: But when I feel things, it’s real, it’s overwhelming.

T: [picks up another chess piece] Yes, it is definitely an experience you are having. [sets chess piece on the board, representing the feeling] And that thought you just had, the one that said, “But when I feel things, it’s real, it’s overwhelming,” is another piece, too, another experience. [sets another chess piece on the board]

C: So everything I say will become another piece?

T: Yes, each experience you have, whether it be a feeling or a thought is another piece on the board. And, as the board, notice that you are in touch with the pieces, you are in contact with them [slides pieces around on the board to demonstrate contact], yet the pieces are not the board.

C: Well, I think I would just like to dump the board over.

T: And that thought, too, is another piece on the board. See how this works?

C: I know, but I don’t want those pieces.

T: [compassionately] I can understand why. But again, check your experience and see. Have you ever been able to kick the pieces that you didn’t want off the board? Have those bad memories and feelings disappeared?

C: No.

T: So even “I don’t want those bad pieces” goes on the board. Remember, though, the board is not the pieces. The board- you, the experiencer- is larger than any single piece. You are in contact with your thoughts and feelings. You are aware of having them, and yet you are not them. You experience them, and you are continually adding to your  board… and the pieces are not the board. The board can hold the pieces and remain intact and whole, even if a piece says, “This is overwhelming.”

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T: Have you ever said to yourself that you can’t stand it for another moment?

C: Yes.

T: What happened?

C: Well… [chuckles]

T: Another moment passed, didn’t it?

C: Yes.

T: And then another and another. Those moments just kept on coming, and here you are now. You stood it, even though your mind told you that you couldn’t.

C: Yes, but it still felt very bad.

T:Agreed. I do believe it felt bad. But imagine for just a moment that your thoughts actually controlled all your  behavior, that every thought you had caused you to do something, What if thoughts actually caused everyone’s behavior? What would the world look like?

C: It would be a mess. IT would be obliterated.

T: Yeah, things would really be bad. Thank goodness our thoughts don’t cause our behavior. Our reasons, our stories, don’t force us to do things. But they like to look big and scary sometimes, as if they could force us to do things. But all they can do is look big and scary. Your mind tells you, I can’t stand this another moment, and then your experience tells you that you can. My question is: Who is aware of all these thoughts in the first place?

C: I am.

T: And is that sense of awareness dependent on only certain thoughts being there? Can you like and don’t like?

C: Sure

T: It is from that place that choice is possible. Whose life is this, anyway? Your thoughts? can you make choices while observing your thoughts? While being with your thoughts, while noticing them, can you take actions that fit with the life you want to live?

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Updates of sorts

Lamb is doing awesome in her big girl Ariel bed. She usually wakes up 1-2 times at night to pee (I still have to help her). From what I can tell, she’s been waking up with a dry pull up most nights. I am considering letting her sleep without a pull up because it’s easier for her to get her pjs up and down by herself, but the struggles with the pull-up. I think the step to making her more independent for going potty at night will be making it so she can do it all herself! We’ll see. I am in no rush to be changing bed sheets at night.

Adam’s sister is pregnant and due in October. Early on they found out she kind of has like placenta previa but not just that but some kind of like short umbilical cord or like the positioning of the umbilical cord is such that if the placenta migrates upwards, it could be bad. So, anyway they expected the baby could be either born early or born small. Well she had an ultrasound at 31 weeks and the baby was measuring very small, less than the fifth percentile. She has another ultrasound next week. Anyone have experience or know anyone who had anything like this?

I know measurements can be off and all, but I feel like ultrasound measurements are generally pretty accurate. Well, she’s clearly freaking out, and her husband (“uncle douchebag”) is really freaking out, because he has OCPD. That’s Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. I diagnosed him 🙂 No one knows. But seriously, he really does. I’m not even being like exaggerating. It’s kind of sad. Guy is ridiculous. Anyway she said he’s being very negative and insensitive. She wouldn’t say more, but  her mom told me “he doesn’t think she is eating enough.” which to me means, he’s probably blaming her. And he’s one of those super overly-cautious people. You know, like I actually witnessed him get a wet paper towel and wipe off his 1 year old’s hair when a bubble landed on it. Like, it was too much for him to stand. And anytime the kid got bubble solution on his hands, he’d take him inside immediately to wash them because, “he might get it in his mouth or touch his eyes.” Yeah.

So, having a baby with potential health issues does not sit well with him. Here’s hoping she turns out well. I think she’ll be born early and probably spend some time in the NICU. Hoping they can fatten her up there.

Big girl bed update

So, we had success. It’s only been one night, and I know that often progress is 3 steps forward, 1 step back. However, I am kind of over the moon right now.

At the last attempt, we had just taken the side off her crib and that didn’t go over well (she was probably afraid of falling out). So, I just happened to look on Craiglist and I found a Ariel Mermaid toddler bed for sale for $25. BOOM I jumped on that. Cheesiest bed ever but if my kid will love and it and sleep it in it? No problem. And if she doesn’t? I’ll just sell it and get my money back! I figured it would be a low risk investment.

So, yesterday we set up the toddler bed and she’s pretty excited about it. The hubs and I take apart her crib (while she’s in the room). I figured it would be important for her to see us taking down her crib so she wouldn’t be surprised or wonder what happened to it. It made me so sad to take it down. I started crying. I thought about how it just felt like yesterday that we were setting it up.

I started having all these worries that I was kicking her out of the crib too soon. Lots of kids stay in the crib until they are 3. But recently it had just felt wrong putting her in the crib. I mean, she’s so independent in so many ways that having to pick her up to put her in and pick her up to take her out, just seemed wrong. She’s also really big for her age so I just felt like I had this big toddler who could potty all by herself, sleeping in this bed meant for a baby. It felt wrong.

But I also know how attached she was to her crib. It’s not like she had any problems sleeping in it, or ever tried to really climb out of it. It was her little safety secure place. Would she scream and cry an awful “I want my crib back” scream of terror? I was just an emotional wreck over it. The crib was gone. Night was coming. This was happening.

We still have an adult full size bed in her room, so I made sure to tell her I would be sleeping in the room and be there with her in case she needed me as she got used to her new bed. Come bed time, she was happy to get into bed. She was also happy to GET OUT of bed. She was figuring out that wow, she could get up, go open the bathroom door, and go potty. She did this about 3-4 times until I told her okay, enough, it’s bed time.

I had to threaten to “leave the room” if she wouldn’t lie down in her bed. I did actually have to leave the room for 5 seconds and she cried. When I came back in she agreed to lie down in her bed. And, drum roll…. she fell asleep!!!

She woke up in the night to go potty, got out of bed herself, opened the bathroom door herself, and went potty almost all by herself. I had to of course dispose of the pee and help her get her pull up back on. She then walked back to bed and stayed asleep until 6am. She woke up, had to pee, and asked for some milk. Her pull up was dry too! Second night in a row. She drank her milk in bed and then eventually got up and we started our morning. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that it happened. She slept! I slept! I think in a few more months she might be able to go potty all by herself. We’ll have to see where she is with things and her fear of the big potty. That’s another post. I’ll have to take a picture of the awesome set up I have going on with that but she still won’t use it.

Anyway, here’s a picture of her this morning! That door next to her bed is her bathroom door. We put her toddler bed in the same spot and same direction as her crib.

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The Big Girl Bed Flop

So, the solution I chose was to turn her crib into a daybed. You just take the front railing off and boom, toddler daybed. I figured we could get some railings or something for the side if needed. So, her grandma, Lamb, and I all head over to BabiesRUs to let Lamb pick out the bedding of her dreams. (She went with “Mermaid” by the way, which is no surprise to me as that’s all she wants to see these days). We walked all through the store and looked at everything. She only wanted her Little Mermaid bedding. Well that and one of those walking toy “poppers” that kids learning to walk use? Yeah, she walked around the entire store pushing that thing as it POP POP POPOPPOPOPed. You could tell where we were in the store because it practically sounded like gunfire. Her grandma of course purchased the popper for Lamb too. Baby toys are always the  best.
So we got home, Adam had already removed the side of the crib rail. We put her mermaid comforter on it and Lamb was SUPER thrilled. She jumped on the bed. She squealed with delight. She was having THE best day.

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Until 20 minutes later, when it was nap time.

The dark cloud that is toddler madness arrived. The storm clouds of “I hate change” rained down on us. Lamb was having NONE of this new bed. NONE. She screamed. She cried (and cried, and cried, and cried). I couldn’t soothe her. She wouldn’t lay in the bed. She wanted nothing to do with it. She requested her baby bed. After 2 hours. TWO HOURS of refusal to nap I begged Adam to put the crib back together again. *sigh* Then she happily napped. And I was worn out.

Lamb likes her routine. She doesn’t like change that much I suppose. She likes the comfort and safety of her crib. She’s clearly attached to it (just like she’s attached to her lovie and her baby bottles of milk). Oh well. Too much too soon. I suppose one day we’ll just be making the switch to putting her in the adult sized bed in her room. She just needs to be able to get up and down from it a little bit easier. I think I will try the bed rails on it sometime soon though.

Funny enough, she continued to call her crib her “Big Girl Bed” later when a friend came over. “Look at my big girl bed” (I guess because she had an Little Mermaid blanket in her crib).

Yeah. It’s not the worst thing in the world to have your kid in the crib. I mean ,it’s nice. She’s still stuck in there. I suppose she could climb out if she really wanted to. One day she’ll be big and I’ll wish she could just be in that crib. I’m never going to push her to grow up faster than she’s ready. And if she needs to take her crib to college with her, so be it.

As far as night time potty training, well she’s still waking up sometimes to go potty. And, we just gotta take her. So much for getting full nights sleep. That didn’t last long enough!