Jaron's Story: Loneliness
Jaron, an anthropology student, pursued an individual study abroad trip to Peru. His close relationships with family and friends had always been central to his life and identity. In Peru, he felt his nationality, race, and size were all social barriers, leading to a sense of isolation and loneliness. Playing ball one day with some local children helped Jaron break out of his isolation and engage with others.
Also termed thought distancing, cognitive defusion focuses on recognizing thoughts and emotions as internal constructs that should be acknowledged, but should not be the basis for behavior.
Cognitive Defusion fosters awareness, regulation, and flexibility. It encourages the acceptance of thoughts as mental activity and challenging the errors present in our ways of thought which impact our emotions and behaviors.
Sit in a comfortable position and either close your eyes or rest them gently on a fixed spot in the room. Bring your awareness to your breathing and use your breath as an anchor of focus.
Bring your attention to your thoughts; what are you thinking about now, feeling? Visualize your thoughts in words and when you read them, remind yourself; "I'm having the thought that..." "I notice the feeling of..."
Continue to notice, accept and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings; but remind yourself that they are not facts and they are not causal events.
Imagine your thoughts as leaves floating down a stream, or clouds passing the sky.They are there, but they do have to change the setting around them; they also change from moment to moment.
Simply because you're feeling or thinking about something stressful, does not dictate your behaviors; just as one cloud does not change the whole sky; and one leaf does not change the stream's direction
Re-attune your focus to your deep breathing again. When these thoughts become less powerful ask yourself if they are helpful? Accurate? Are you filtering out another viewpoint? Predicting the future? Worrying about the worst case scenario?
Deep, or diaphragmatic, breathing is a skill that helps in soothing. It focuses on paying attention to the breath by breathing deeply into the belly, creating a balanced flow of air.
Deep breathing fosters regulation and self-soothing. It can be used as an in-the-moment coping strategy for distress, and can make the other skills more meaningful.
Begin by sitting in a comfortable, but alert position with eyes closed or on a fixed point in the room to minimize distraction. Now, taking a moment to notice any thoughts or sensations you may be having, and acknowledge them.
Bringing your attention to your breath; on your next in-breath; trace the air from the point on inhaling and visualize the air as it travels into your lungs, hold it for a moment, and on your out-breath visualizing the air leaving.
On your next in breath, slowly breathe into your diaphragm; [your abdomen and belly should become full with air]. Holding it for a moment, and the letting it go. Repeating this diaphragm breathing until you are not controlling, but noticing your breathing and using your breath as anchor should you get distracted by your thoughts.
Then expanding your attention to your body as whole; visualizing your whole body breathing with each in and out breath
Reflection focuses on taking the big picture into account. To be reflective is to have a balanced perspective of the past and present, as well as thinking about opportunities for future change.
Reflection fosters optimism, flexibility and connectedness. Reflection allows for balanced thinking and the possibility to problem solve.
Holding in mind the thoughts and feelings that you may be struggling with; reflect upon both the positive and negative aspects of an event as well as the impact of your internal experiences of this event to help you gain perspective. What can learn from this experience?
- What is in my control and what is not?
- Is it helpful for me to be thinking the thoughts I am thinking?
- Is there any other way to see this situation?
- What would I say to friend in the same position?
What am I wanting to change? What are all my possible options? Is this a current problem, or a potential problem?
Can I implement any of these strategies and evaluate their effectiveness?