Exercise: My First Steps – Naming My
Triggers and Noticing My Responses

My triggers:

What difficult thoughts, emotional triggers or behaviours impact or influence my life right here, right now that get in the way of living a rich, full meaningful life or being the person I’d like to be?

My responses:

What are you doing that seems to make life worse or makes you feel stuck?
Getting hooked on specific thoughts.
Worrying about past and future.
Judgement – not good enough, of oneself and others
Reason giving or excuses
Rules about yourself or others – right and wrong way of doing things
Important or meaningful people, places, events, activities, situations that you are avoiding or trying to escape from
Private experiences you avoid, get rid of or unwilling to have – thoughts, memories, emotions

Exercise: Setting Goals and Doing What Matters

You will be learning new skills to help you handle these difficult thoughts and feelings more effectively, so they have less impact and influence over you.

What aspect of your life is most important to you?

work, study, health, parenting, marriage or intimate relationships, friends, family, spirituality, community
Identify values important within the aspects you have chosen. (see values list)

What do you want to achieve?

– Emotional Goals: What are these difficult thoughts, feelings, images, emotions, sensations, memories, urges you’d like to have less of?
– Behavioural goals: What would you like to stop/start; do more/less of?
Any activities you’d like to start, resume or develop?

What people, places, events, activities, challenges would you like to approach rather than avoid? What relationship would you like to improve and how?

What life problems do you want to solve?

Are there psychological/physical or external barriers that stop you from living a rich full meaningful life?

What strengths, skills, personal resources do you already have that can help you?

Who do you turn to for support?

What small steps can I take to help me achieve my goal/s? (Towards Moves)

SMART goals:


S = Specific

What specific actions will you take?

If a goal is vague and non-specific (e.g. I’m going to wake up early) it’s going to be hard to know if you have achieved it or not. So change it to a specific goal (e.g. I’m going to get up at 7am every day.)

M = Meaningful

What values will you be living by, when you do this?

If the goal is not meaningful – i.e. aligned with values – why bother? Either set a new one that is meaningful, or explicitly link the current goal to values, so it becomes meaningful (e.g. remind yourself “Doing this would be living my values of being committed.”)

A =Achievable

R = Realistic

Is the goal realistic for the resources currently available – which may include time, energy, money, physical health, social support, and so on?

T = Time-framed

What day, date, and time will this occur, and for how long will you do it?

Exercise: The Choice Point

The Choice Point is a very helpful tool to help identify the route for your journey and the steps you need to make to get you there. You can print this out and fill in the boxes and you can use it as your road map.

Exercise: My ACT Journey

Exercise: Moment of Reflection:

At the end of the day just have a moment of reflection:

  • Did I achieve my goals today?
  • What got in the way?
  • What worked?
  • What can help me tomorrow?

End your day with a brief loving kindness meditation

Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness exercise Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7


You can try any of the mindfulness exercises on the website or you can choose you own. For example:


  • Drinking coffee or tea
  • Washing up a cup
  • Walking
  • Weeding the garden
  • Noticing the sounds around you with your eyes closed
  • Having a shower


These are just a few examples.

Open UP

What difficult or unpleasant emotions, thoughts, physical sensations or experiences do I want to get rid of or avoid?

How do I respond when I experience them*?

Did your responses make you feel better? Did they make your problems go away? Did it work? For how long?

How long have you been responding this way?

Did your responses make you feel better? For how long?

Did they make your problems go away?

How long have you been responding this way? Has this way of responding given you the life you want for yourself and be the person you want to be?


Can I choose to respond differently?


Experiences My response Did it work




Avoiding people or places or activities or situations

Using distraction to keep away from painful experiences, for example, working late, watching tv etc

Comfort eating, drinking to relax or fall asleep, using drugs, self-harming, researching condition online, constant search for second opinion

Ruminating, overanalysing situations, constant preoccupation about the past, fantasies about the future, catastrophising, thinking positively

Others – going to the gym, yoga, meditation, singing etc.

Unhooking from Thoughts


Experiences My response Did it work Alternative response



  1. Choose a value
  2. List behaviours related to this value
  3. Choose a behaviour or set of behaviours you will commit to
  4. Make a plan
  5. Just do it
  6. Commit
  7. Keep a diary
  8. Reflect


Overarching Value:


Behaviours I will commit to