Thursday, November 18, 2021

Moving from self as content to self as context

In Acceptance Commitment Therapy ACT, one of the. hardest thing to explain to patients is the idea and concept around “self as context” vs “self as content”. 

So what is it?

One can view it as how one identifies oneself in a “zoomed in” or “zoomed out” perspective.

When one “zooms into” how one identifies oneself, it may sound like this. I am a male Asian.

When we zoom out a bit more, I am male.

A bit more, I am a human and a citizen of the world.

A bit more, I am the “awareness” that observes my thoughts and feelings. I am the “observing self”.

At a more “zoomed in” self identity level, there will be more rigidity, anxiety, stress, fight/flight, and less openness. In this space, there will more “identity wars” and ongoing conflict. It’s at the “us” vs “them” level.

As one “zooms out” more on the “spectrum” of self identity, one is moving from self as content towards self as context. There will be more understanding, more appreciation, more unity, and less conflict perhaps.

The important question is, how “zoomed in” or “zoomed out” are we with self identification?

Knowing where we are will help us to shift to a more helpful level, and shift perspectives. 

In counseling, at the core of it, we help people shift self identity from self as content, to self as context.

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