Image by Jan Tinneberg
 

METAPHORS

Acceptance Commitment Therapy ACT-Metaphors

Metaphors are figures of speech that are not true in a literal way. They're not lies or errors, though, because metaphors are not intended to be interpreted literally. They are a type of figurative language intended to convey a different meaning than the literal denotative meaning of the word or phrases used. They draw from real-life situations, or situations that could be imagined as real, again appealing to the mind’s love of using what it already knows.

Source: Stoddard, Jill A.; Afari, Niloofar (2014-04-01). The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. New Harbinger Publications.

 

ACCEPTANCE METAPHORS

THE PROBLEM WITH PROBLEM SOLVING

Imagine you arrive home and smell natural gas in the kitchen. You could fix this problem quickly, even though doing so could involve several steps.

  1. Recognizing that something is wrong (detecting a strange odor)

  2. Identifying the cause (figuring out that the odor is gas from the stove and that a knob is not completely shut off)

  3. Anticipating what could happen if things continue and no action is taken (knowing that there could be an explosion if there is a spark)

  4. Determining what should be done and executing it (turning the knob and off and opening windows)

  5. Evaluating whether the plan worked by comparing the actual outcome to the expected outcome (waiting to see if the odor dissipates)

  6. Determining what was learned and figuring out how to prevent or handle similar problems in the future (calling one’s partner and sharing the experience)


Each step has a role in moving toward resolution of the problem. If, however, you applied these steps to problems such as painful thoughts and emotions, could they be involved in generating suffering?


For instance, identifying a cause could be harmful if it shows up in the form of attributing blame or responsibility (e.g., “It was all my fault” or “You should have known better”).


Looking into the future for potential consequences of situations and choices might look like excessive worrying if this strategy becomes a predominant mode (e.g., “I know I need to do this, but what if                              happens?”).


Determining what should be done and doing it requires accessing verbal knowledge or a rule (e.g., a spark will cause an explosion if there is a dense concentration of flammable gas). When dealing with problems outside your control, trying to adhere to rules about how things should be and behaving strictly based on those rules (e.g., “I’ll make changes only on my terms” or “What goes around comes around—that’s how I see it”) can maintain the position of being stuck as a person who waits for circumstances or other people to change, and struggles against what is.


Evaluating, comparing, and judging when applied to the self might contribute to a persistent view of chronically falling short of a standard and the use of negative labels about yourself (e.g., “Why can’t I just stop being this way?” or “I’m a loser, and most people probably think that way about me too.”).Taking lessons about what worked and evaluating future outcomes could result in your incorporating evaluations and labels into a conceptualized view of yourself or the world that is harmful and limiting (e.g., “I should just stop trying,” “Maybe if I stop caring, I won’t get hurt again,” or “That’s how people are, so why should I bother getting close to anyone?”).

EATING AN APPLE

Acceptance is like eating an apple. One reason for eating an apple could be that you’re trying to lose weight and you’re trying to stay away from things that are “bad” for you. Instead of your usual snack of a cupcake, you have an apple. You may “choose” an apple, but what will it be like to eat that apple? As you eat it, you start comparing it to the cupcake. With each bite, you’re thinking about how the apple isn’t as sweet, fudgy, and good as the cupcake. Then, when you’re done, you eat the cupcake anyway. Another way to experience eating the apple is to let the apple be an apple, rather than needing or wanting it to be something it is not. You could notice the crispness of each bite, the juiciness, and the sweetness for what it is and not for what it isn’t, a cupcake.

COGNITIVE DEFUSION METAPHORS

This is your item description. Use this space to add a description of the services, products, team members or any other items you want to highlight on your site. Have a lot to say? Easily turn any item into a full page by clicking ‘Create a page from this item’ in the edit panel.

PRESENT MOMENT METAPHORS

This is your item description. Use this space to add a description of the services, products, team members or any other items you want to highlight on your site. Have a lot to say? Easily turn any item into a full page by clicking ‘Create a page from this item’ in the edit panel.

VALUES METAPHORS

This is your item description. Use this space to add a description of the services, products, team members or any other items you want to highlight on your site. Have a lot to say? Easily turn any item into a full page by clicking ‘Create a page from this item’ in the edit panel.

SELF-AS-CONTEXT METAPHORS

This is your item description. Use this space to add a description of the services, products, team members or any other items you want to highlight on your site. Have a lot to say? Easily turn any item into a full page by clicking ‘Create a page from this item’ in the edit panel.