Art Response to Values Exercise (and description of ACT)

As many of you may have heard, in my Anxiety Program yesterday on Friday, we each made a list of values we wished to live by. This program uses ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.** In a nutshell, using Mindfulness, you Defuse from unhelpful thoughts and feelings, to Accept reality and take Committed action based on your Values. Clearly, anxiety does not help a person meet his or her values since action is compromised by anxiety of some form or other: generalized, social, ptsd, ocd, etc. ACT definitely works for those of us whose anxiety interferes with daily living. Whoda thunk anxiety had been such a problem, My Whole Life?


Back to Values. Values are those things to live your life by and guide your goals. You never reach them. They may change during your life. And they describe who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Goals are things you can accomplish in a certain amount of time (short or long).  (Example: “I want to attend my son’s football games” is a goal but “I want to be an interested and engaged father” is a value.) It’s important that your goals are just that – YOUR goals. Not your parents’ or society’s goals.

Anyway, I was inspired enough by my list of values – in large part so that I wouldn’t forget them, as my mind is wont to do these days – that I wished to make some sort of art response to the lists I made. Following are pictures of what I came up with for this time of my life. I remember doing this kind of exercise every 6 months or so as I have gone through some outpatient programs. Most values have stayed the same. Some have changed. Some have clarified.


May this inspire you for your own personal work and art as well!




Detail - Work/Education

Detail – Work/Education


Detail - Relationships

Detail – Relationships


Detail - Personal Growth/Health

Detail – Personal Growth/Health


Detail - Leisure

Detail – Leisure


**Via Wikipedia: ACT commonly employs six core principles to help clients develop psychological flexibility:

  1. Cognitive defusion: Learning methods to reduce the tendency to reify thoughts, images, emotions, and memories
  2. Acceptance: Allowing thoughts to come and go without struggling with them.
  3. Contact with the present moment: Awareness of the here and now, experienced with openness, interest, and receptiveness.
  4. Observing the self: Accessing a transcendent sense of self, a continuity of consciousness which is unchanging.
  5. Values: Discovering what is most important to one’s true self.
  6. Committed action: Setting goals according to values and carrying them out responsibly.

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