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  • Margaret Sala

A thought is just a thought


Imagine you're a bus driver and you're driving your bus. Your bus has got lots of passengers - these passengers represent your difficult thoughts, emotions, memories and difficult sensations. Some of them are friendly but most of them are not. Some are angry and others judgmental. Some are really scared and don't want you to take risks. Some are sad. Others are ashamed. So what do you do? Well the natural thing to do, first of all, is you start fighting with your passengers. You don't want them on your bus! You only want the nice passengers, the friendly ones. So you tell them to get off! And if they don’t get off, you try and push them off. But these passengers that you keep fighting with don’t go away. So you come up with an idea. You put your fingers in your ears you close your eyes. Then they don’t bother you! But soon you realize that in that state, you can't get very far. You can't drive your bus. You can't move forward. So you may be relieved in the short term - but in the long term it doesn't seem to work.


With your eyes and ears closed, avoiding the passengers or distracting yourself, you can't experience all the nice passengers. And you can't move your bus at all. Eventually you find a solution. The solution is to accept. To allow. To let go. To stop fighting and avoiding the passengers. To be willing to let them be there. You just need to focus your attention on driving the bus in the direction of your dreams, your values, where you want to go. And yes, it's not ideal to have them - you don't want them there. But you don't tolerate them or either - you just let them be there. And maybe you can even learn a few things from them as you journey in the direction of your dreams.


That's the metaphor of the bus, which is commonly used in ACT therapy. Your passengers represent your unpleasant thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. And the solution is to stop trying to get rid of those inner experiences. Instead, recognize that these are just fleeting thoughts, emotions, and sensations - products of the mind. They don't need to control what you do. You can make room for them internally, and move towards what's important to you regardless.

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