Defusion means becoming unstuck from something, in this case, anxiety. Anxiety often looms large. It consumes our thoughts and emotions and it impacts our actions, too. Anxiety sticks to us, and we to it when all of our time and energy, thoughts and feelings, actions or lack of action are fused with anxiety. To reduce anxiety, we need to separate ourselves from anxiety. In acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this is called defusion. Defusion can really help with anxiety.
When we’re fused with our anxiety, it’s as though our anxiety is part of who we are. We come to believe, because it feels real, that our brains are full of anxiety and anxious thoughts. French philosopher Rene Descartes stated, “I think, therefore I am.”
Anyone with anxiety can take this to a new level: “I think anxious thoughts, therefore I am my anxiety.” This fusion with anxiety holds us back.
Using Defusion to Reduce Anxiety
We can struggle against difficult thoughts and experiences, or we can let them be and choose to behave in ways to move us closer to where we want to be. —Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 Steps
When we struggle against something, where is our focus? Hint: it’s on whatever it is we’re struggling against. When we struggle against our anxiety (which of course is a natural thing to want to do), we are focusing on it. We’re stuck to it and can do little else. We are giving anxiety power and control.
What Is Defusion?
Defusion is like coming unglued, in a positive way. You are loosening yourself from a strong adhesive and creating space between you and your anxiety. The anxiety is still there, but now you have room to breathe and to move and to pull back and look at things from your own perspective.