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Instructions for our mind

We receive comprehensive instructions for use with every device we buy. But our mind - probably the largest machine of all - we have to understand and be able to use it without any instructions. Wouldn't it be handy to have a manual to read about how our mind works and how to use it properly? Below is a little guide for your mind. It is based on scientific knowledge about thinking and should help you to be able to deal better with possible problems that we humans sometimes have when dealing with our mind.

These instructions come from Wengenroth: Therapy Tools Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Beltz, 2017.

Your mind is an extremely powerful device that will soon prove indispensable in your everyday life. Proper use of this device will enable you to talk to others and yourself, analyze situations, make assessments, make rules, make plans, solve problems, make predictions and do many other things._cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_

Warning: There are risks associated with improper use of your mind. Among other things, it can lead to blockages in action, limitations in the ability to learn and problems on the emotional level.

Below you will find a brief overview of some important features of the device and the associated risks.

Making connections: The main task of the device is to make connections between the different things and events that you deal with in your life. Some of the covers produced are useless or even absurd, bizarre or immoral. This is a perfectly normal accompaniment to the device's almost limitless ability to connect anything to anything. It does not mean that the device is defective. What thoughts your mind generates in a given situation is largely the result of its programming, ie the information it has absorbed so far, plus some preset factory settings. Your device checks the thoughts given out to a certain extent for their inner coherence, but not for the benefit that the thought could have for you as a user in the current situation.

--> Don't be surprised by useless or "bad" thoughts. Their appearance is normal and does not mean there is anything wrong with you or your mind. 

Effect transfer: When establishing a relationship between one thing (A) and another (B), the device ensures that part of the effect of A is transferred to B. For you as a user, this means that just thinking about a certain thing can have a similar effect on you as the thing itself. This can be very useful and desirable. For example, the fact that the mere thought of a possible danger can trigger fear increases the desire to get to safety. The transfer of effects also helps when working on positive goals: Even the mental image of a desired situation can trigger positive feelings and increase the motivation to work towards achieving the goal. The disadvantage of this trait: the transferred effect of the thoughts is not always helpful, but sometimes a hindrance. For example, the mere thought of a bad event can trigger fear and pain, even if that event has not yet happened, and may never happen. 

--> Don't forget that the occurrence of feelings does not necessarily indicate specific events in reality. If you're scared, it doesn't have to mean you're in danger. Being sad doesn't mean your situation is hopeless. Getting angry with someone doesn't mean they misbehaved. Some feelings are just side effects of mental connections that your mind makes.

Control Mechanism: Your mind is equipped with an automatic control mechanism to detect and eliminate problems. Everything the device registers is evaluated and classified as either problematic or unproblematic. If your mind recognizes a problem, it automatically switches to problem-solving mode: the device prompts you to take measures to overcome the problem and suggests possible courses of action. This feature of your device is generally useful, but it comes with two risks:

- On the one hand, your device sometimes defines situations as a problem that are not a problem at all or that cannot be changed. This causes difficulties especially when the device defines the occurrence of certain feelings or the behavior of other people as a problem. 

- On the other hand, the measures suggested by the device are often only of limited effectiveness and in some cases even rather harmful, especially in the long term.

--> So don't believe everything you think. Not every problem your mind reports to you is really one. Not every solution he suggests to you is a good solution.

Anti-manipulation mechanism: Your device works largely independently, which means that you have no influence on what thoughts it generates in a certain situation. For example, it is not in your power to generate only positive thoughts. Device users sometimes try to suppress certain thoughts. However, since this can have unfavorable consequences, an anti-manipulation mechanism was built into the device. This causes it to react with an increased occurrence of thoughts that you are trying to suppress. This is especially true for unpleasant memories. 

--> Do not try to suppress certain thoughts. This works in the rarest of cases and often leads to the suppressed thoughts occurring all the more frequently and intensely.  

Negativity Focus: Your device generally generates more negative thoughts than positive thoughts- if it detects signs of stress in the user, the level of negative thoughts increases. This is because the device's main job is to detect problems and alert you to those aspects of a situation that could pose a threat to you.

--> Don't despair if you can't just think positively. This is simply not possible, especially in stressful situations. But remember that sometimes your mind overdoes it a bit with its warnings and pessimism. 

And now I wish you a lot of fun with your device and getting to know its functions!

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