How to use ACT “Dropping Anchor” to Focus on What Matters

sunflower during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on

As frustrating and overwhelming as our emotions can be, it is important to take the time and space to listen to them as it is their job to communicate a message to us. Our instinct is to push uncomfortable emotions away, which is completely understandable and what we are wired to do. However, we all know there are consequences to not paying attention to our emotions – they get bottled up and show up at extremely inconvenient times. 

Our brains tell us that we have to change our behavior as a result of our emotions. Examples of this self-talk include “You can’t do that, you’ll feel too anxious,” “Someone will be able to tell that you’re freaking out,” “It’s way easier to just stay home.” 

Self-compassion is important because these thoughts are common with our mind’s goal of avoiding discomfort. These thoughts might even be true, which makes them hard to dispute! In this moment, it is important to remember what is important about the moment as most things that matter to us cause some form of discomfort! Relationships with family, friends, partners, a new job opportunity, pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, trying new hobbies.

We can use an ACT grounding skill called “Dropping Anchor” to help us navigate the stormy seas of emotions and still do what matters to us. Use the acronym ACE to help you remember how. 

A – Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. 

Adopt the stance of a National Geographic documentary narrator, curiously exploring what is going on in your inner world 

C – Come back into your body 

Slowly push your feet into the floor, straighten up your back and spine, press your fingertips together, slowly stretch arms and neck, shrug shoulders, intentionally breathe slowly. You can try one or all. 

E- Engage in what you are doing 

Give your full attention to the next task or activity at hand. Notice your surroundings – 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing to taste. 

You can repeat this process 2 or 3 times until you feel connected to the present and are able to remind yourself what is important.

Leave a Reply