Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Psychological Flexibility

Psychologically Flexing (PFing) Through Your Day

PFing is noticing the difference between your 5-senses and Mental experiencing (vertical line of the Matrix and Away and Toward behaviors (horizontal line). Here is how to practice PFing through your day.

You have probably noticed that almost every day something happens and it gets to you. Maybe someone cuts you off in traffic, someone 'forgets' to reload the toilet paper, or maybe someone has 15 items in the 10 items or less line. These events are part of life and they are perfect opportunities to do some Psychological Flexing (PFing).

The process is quite simple. First you notice when one of these events happens, and we start by giving them a name: Hooks. As noted above, hooks are the things that happen that, well, hook us. You especially know if some event was a hook if your are still thinking about it an hour after it happened. Then it's really a hook.

Many people report feeling a tight feeling somewhere in their body during a hook. Other people just notice the thoughts or the feelings of the hook. Once you notice the beginning part of the hook, then also notice other 5-senses experiencing that you are having at the time of the hook. After that, notice the thoughts, feelings and urges you are having during the hook.

With just a bit of practice you will probably discover that hooks are sort of interesting; there is really a lot to them.

At first you might not notice the hooks during the hook. Minutes, hours or even days will go by before you say, "Oh wow, I was hooked." That's fine, you are just practicing noticing hooks and soon you will be noticing them in real time.

Once you notice a hook in real time, you can take it to the next level: Noticing what you do next. So the sequence is:

1. Notice the hook,
2. Notice 5-senses and mental stuff of the hook,
3. Notice what you do next.
Notice that the exercise flexes you first on the vertical line of the Matrix, and then on the horizontal line. In other words, you are noticing the difference between 5-senses and Mental experiencing (vertically flexing) and noticing Away vs. Toward behaviors (horizontal flexing).

As you practice this a bit you may notice one more thing showing up: Choice.

From a psychological flexible point of view (what you get with PFing) you will notice that you have a choice of behaviors after the hook. So then the list becomes:

1. Notice the hook,
2. Notice 5-senses and mental stuff of the hook,
3. Choose what you do next.

If you are like the rest of us, sometimes you will forget about step 3. However, the more you practice PFing, the better your chances of noticing you have a choice.

Have fun PFing!


Kevin Polk, Ph.D.
Psychological Flexibility Training (PFT)

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