- Self-as-context or the core self is the perspective from which a person’s experience unfolds. The place from which observations are made.
- It helps build psychological flexibility because it loosens up attachments to language of their conceptualized self.
- Often taught with meditative or metaphorical interventions.
Self-as-context is the sense of self that is a consistent perspective from which to observe and accept all changing experiences. We attempt to teach this to our clients in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in order to help build psychological flexibility. To be able to learn to contact the core self helps people relate to their thoughts, sensations and emotions in a healthier manner. In the last video, we went through the observing self exercise and it was excerpted from the first ACT book called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: An Experiential Approach to Behavior Change by Hayes, Strosahl and Wilson published in 1999. Going through that exercise helps people realize that they are not the content of their life but rather human existence sets up a context for those experiences while living.
Another metaphor that can help is talking about the self as the sky. The observing self is like the sky. Emotions and thoughts are like the weather. We can embrace the idea that the weather constantly and naturally changes and never actually harms or changes the sky. Thunderstorms, hurricanes, blizzards all happen and the sky is there holding these events. No matter how difficult the weather gets, the storm always passes. Sunny days can be looked at the same way. The sky simply holds all experiences. We sometimes forget that the sky is there. At times, we can’t see through the clouds and sometimes we take the sunny days for granted. But the sky is always there simply holding the weather. And just like the sky, the observing self is always there making room for difficult thoughts and feelings and other experiences.