Fusion and how it gets in the way of our goals – or, how to live with our worries without them getting in the way

Last time we were here, I promised to get into fusion and why it is such an issue.

First, let’s define fusion. Fusion is that pesky little voice telling you those not-so-nice things. They are also faulty rules that we follow, even though they don’t help us. Some examples of fusion are:

  • I’m never going to be able to stick to this eating plan.
  • I’m too fat to go to the gym.
  • People with my issues shouldn’t work out.
  • I blew it today, so game over. Bring on the ice cream!

Fusion keeps us from living the life we want to live – especially if we believe our thoughts. You see, thoughts are just behaviors that have been learned over time. And the logical ways we deal with them are often ineffective. Don’t believe me? Here is a little exercise:

Try not to think of donuts as you read this passage. Do NOT think of any donuts. Not Boston Creme, not Jelly, not plain. You may not think of donuts. Now take 30 seconds and try to do the same.

Sorry that you are now craving donuts. I know I am.

The more we try to avoid or push down these thoughts, the faster they pop up – like a ping pong ball in water. Then we try to squash them – maybe by avoiding the gym. Maybe by binge eating. Maybe by using alcohol or drugs. Maybe by withdrawing from life. The list goes on. The point is that fusion leads to experiential avoidance.

Before you beat yourself up for these thoughts, understand they are perfectly normal. They might have even served a purpose at some point. But now they are outdated and really are just getting in the way.

There are many ways to defuse from those thoughts and feelings that are holding you back. Defusion is a key process in psychological flexibility – the ability to feel the feelings and do the committed action anyway. There are a number of great defusion exercises at https://stevenchayes.com/my-act-toolkit/. My personal favorite is Give your Mind a Name.

My mind’s name is Grizelda. Yes, I named her after the Monkees song. I also think the song explains fusion quite well. Let me know what you think:

Grizelda is a cross between Kristen Chenowith and Stevie Knicks. She loves lattes and manicures, and is always up on the latest gossip. She won’t hesitate to tell you what she thinks. And she shows up unannounced and uninvited.

So what do I do with Grizelda? I don’t argue with her. I just thank her for her opinion and move forward. If I have to, I slip her a $20 and tell her to go get her nails done.

What is your fusion? Let me know how it goes if you try any of these ideas. May you defuse effectively!

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