Jul 28

Take ACTion Training and Workshops

Life is hectic. Have you made plans then been sidetracked with chaos or crises and then struggled to get back in the flow of things? The first half of the year my time was devoted to a sick family member, my son. He was in kidney failure and needed a transplant. The good news – he received a kidney from a live donor and the surgery was a success. He is doing well!! I am filled with gratitude. Now I am back in the flow of things.

I have a few projects I am excited to announce.

I can do it

Self-directed Living Through ACT

(Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Training)

This workshop is an introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). You will learn about the six core processes of ACT, an evidence-based model proven to help people with a broad range of problems including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and addictions live a self-directed life. In learning about the six cores processes you will be able to help your clients approach difficult situations by opening-up, being present and doing what matters. ACT training is proven to increase provider effectiveness and reduce burnout. ACT can be used in the workplace as a coaching tool to increase job satisfaction and purposeful leadership and is referred to as Acceptance and Commitment Training for the workplace.

The self-directed life is an excellent primer for clients and clinicians who are committed to personal growth in living a fulfilling and meaningful life. ALL are welcome to attend.

I posted a blog about Self-Directed Living here.

September 13, 2016 from 1:30 to 6:30

$65. You can click here to learn more and buy your ticket.

Location:  West 25th Ave, Denver CO 80211 (Note: This is a fund raiser with a 50/50 split)

ALL are welcome. This workshop is not just for healing arts professionals as ACT is user friendly for the all. 1262967578y3WagG waht impostant 2013

 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Skills Training and Consultation for Therapists, Coaches, And Health Care Professionals

October 11-November 15, 2016, From 9:30 AM – 11:30 AM, (Six Tuesday Mornings)

This six week training and consultation group for therapists, coaches and health care professional will cover the core processes of ACT – a contextually focused form of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy that utilizes mindfulness and behavioral activation to increase clients’ psychological flexibility.

Empirical evidence demonstrates ACT’s effectiveness in treating a wide range of disorders, from anxiety, depression, and PTSD, to chronic pain, eating disorders and substance abuse. Effective with individuals, couples and groups, ACT helps clients to live in the present moment, connect with their values, and effectively handle painful thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations and urges.

Studies have shown that ACT training increases provider effectiveness and reduces burnout. The group is experiential and participants will have an opportunity to discuss cases.

BONUS: Six weeks post-group, unlimited email support.

Pre-requisite reading will be sent once registered

All supplies, worksheets, exercises and Radiant Living Tool Kit and Gift Set

  1. October 11: Introduce the Martix. Relational Frame Theory (RFT) and Functional Contextualism. An introduction to the science that is behind Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  2. October 18: Creative Hopelessness and Experiential Avoidance. Where to begin and how we humans get stuck.
  3. October 25: Self-as-Context and Mindfulness. The transcendent self beyond roles and stories. Mindfulness experiential and how to bring it into the room. Defusion Skills Case Conceptualization.
  4. November 01: Cognitive Distancing techniques as defusion of the literality language and cognition.
  5. November 08: Values and Committed Action. How to create clarity for guiding behavior choices.
  6. November 15: The Matrix experiential. Bring it all together in a user friendly tool for you and your client

$249 Early Early Bird (Ends Midnight Sept 1st)

$299 Early Bird (Ends Midnight September 30th)

$325 Standard Rate begins October 1st

Available: Three student spots for $199. Contact me first for availability.

Location: 950 Wadsworth Blvd, Lakewood CO 80214 (Main floor conference room)

To sign up visit the ACT training page.


Already Attended a ACT Training?

3d people partner.

I will be facilitating a consultation and supervision group for therapists, pre-licensed therapists, students, and coaches who would like to infuse their practice with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  Meet twice a month on Wednesday mornings from 9:30-11:30 at 950 Wadsworth Blvd Suite #325, Lakewood CO 80214.

A short interview is required to join this group. Please call me if you are interested 720-260-7702

I am asking for a three month commitment. Range from $35-$55 per meeting.


If you buy all three months up front you can receive a 10% discount.

Jul 24

Makeover and Update

Thank you for visiting!

Take a moment to browse through the pages and the blog posts. Leave a comment or ask a question. I love to hear from you.

I am in the process of having my website undergo a makeover and an update to better offer you cutting edge information with the objective of making it easier for you to access the information.

Please check back!

Warmly with heart felt gratitude, Brenda

Apr 05

Righteous Indignation: The Drug of Choice for Humans

I participate in an on-line ACT discussion forum for professionals with clinicians and scientists to discuss current conceptual, scientific, and practice developments in ACT and RFT (Relational Frame Theory). I find the topics interesting one in particular caught my attention by Hank Robb. I first met  the wise Dr. Hank Robb at a ACT training in Boulder a few years ago. Since then, I have read many of his posts and watched a few of his videos. I am sharing one of his articles published on the ACT discussion forum.

By Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP

When Righteous Indignation comes out of someone’s mouth, or simply shows up in someone’s head, it usually sounds something like this, “You BITCH (or BASTARD)! You MUSTN’T treat me this way! I DESERVE something different!”

Each of these exemplifies one part of what I call the “fire triangle” of Righteous Indignation. Just as fire specialists often teach about the fire triangle of oxygen, fuel and ignition, I suggest there is also one for Righteous Indignation: person rating, demandingness and entitlement. Put these together, and there will be plenty of “fire” to get your “blood boiling” with others, the world in general, and even with yourself.

To me, Righteous Indignation is the “drug of choice” for humans because once individuals sense themselves to be “The Avenging Angle of The Lord who has been sent to fix your fricking wagon,” they often do feel pretty good. Being righteously indignant certainly is energizing! It also serves as great “anesthesia” for both fear and sorrow.

“Tired of feeling sad, scared and deflated? Here, try some of this!”

Just look around the world, or around your life. Cocaine, alcohol, methamphetamine and even nicotine pale in comparison to how often folks “take a hit” of Righteous Indignation. On the upside, you can take as many “hits” as you like, as often as you like, without a single coin in your pocket. If you’ve got language, you’ve got all the necessary ingredients. No wonder it’s such a big seller! But, like addictive behavior generally, no matter how well Righteous Indignation works in the little picture of the moment, it doesn’t work that well in the Big Picture of your life. There is, after all, a “cost,” even if it’s not financial. The cost is in the kind of relationship Righteous Indignation builds between you and others, you and the world and even you and yourself.

“So, you’re saying I should live life as a doormat! Nuts to that!”

This common response is built on the notion that the only way to speak up, or stand up, is to get steamed up. Or, said in a slightly different way, the only way to “get determined” is to “get disturbed.” Life experience shows it’s just not so. Think about doing housework or yard work, both of which I personally detest. Did you really have to get all “fired up” to push a broom or vacuum or rake leaves? Now be careful. Maybe you have gotten, or still do get, in a snit every time you do one of these tasks, but that’s not the question. So, I’ll repeat the question. Is it really true that the task couldn’t get done without that snit? Do you really need that “turbocharger” of Righteous Indignation to get things done, or do you just have to act, even though you’d rather not? Experience shows that Righteous Indignation is completely unnecessary in order to get things done. You don’t have to get “steamed up” or “fired up” in order to stand up or speak up. You don’t have to get disturbed to get determined. All you really need do is remind yourself of the point in doing these activities in the first place. What do you achieve? What do you make important in your life by the actions you are taking even when you don’t like taking them? And, if there is no point to what you are doing, then why in the world are you doing it?

So, what’s an antidote to Righteous Indignation? Well, you could notice that each “leg of the triangle” is simply bunk. To begin with, no one falls off the scale of humanity no matter how rotten their behavior. Take DNA samples form ten Nobel Peace Prize-winners and ten serial rapist murders and then ask for an analysis of which are the “good humans.” You won’t get an answer. That’s because a human remains a human whether their social worth is in the stratosphere or the toilet. So much for person rating.

Second, if the world really HAD TO, if it really MUST, go a certain way, it would already be going that way! Why? Because there would be no option for things to go otherwise! The proof that things don’t HAVE TO go a certain way, namely your way or the right way, is that your experience shows they aren’t going that way. No matter how WRONG, WRONG, WRONG something is, wrong things are still ALLOWED to happen because if they were not allowed to happen, they wouldn’t be happening – and they are! So much for demandingness.

people-arguing-alberto-ruggieri indignationAnd, finally, you’re entitled? OK then, where’s your note? I don’t mean a note from your mother or even from the courts. Where’s the note from the universe guaranteeing you certain social arrangements or that social arrangements entitling you to this or that are being “underwritten” or “backed up” by the universe? Yes, if you keep your part of a social agreement you are “entitled,” or “deserve,” for those on the other end to do their part. But that’s a SOCIAL entitlement, not a COSMIC one, and social agreements are often broken. I heard that MOSES got a note. Good for him. So, again I ask, “Where’s yours?” So much for “I’m entitled.”

However, there is another, and far less wordy, antidote when it comes to those all too frequent, and very tempting, opportunities to buy into person rating, demandingness and entitlement: consider the consequences you’ll be living with if you do so! When you look back on having indulged one of those opportunities to become Righteously Indignant from the perspective a couple of days, or even a couple of hours, does it really turn out to have been that desirable? Do you really have the sense of, “Yea! All steamed up! That was REALLY GREAT!”? And how about the way you’ve connected with others or yourself? Did another round of blaming and condemning produce the life you most deeply wish to live? If not, then how about keeping your EYES ON THE PRIZE, or perhaps I should say PRIZES. By doing the raking or the sweeping you get “the prize” of a cleaned up yard or a cleaned up house. However, there’s another prize. Namely, the prize of living the life you most deeply want to live in the WAY you want to live it. Does another round of Righteous Indignation really fit with that life? I don’t mean fit well. I mean, does it fit at all?

Here’s a little self-reminder, “If I plan to be around tomorrow, I’d better act like it today.” None of us know if we actually will be around tomorrow, but what’s the PLAN? Is buying into person-rating, demandingness and entitlement with the result of getting “all fired up” every time life fails to go your way really your PLAN for living? If not, there’s no use in getting Righteously Indignant about your tendency toward becoming Righteous Indignant. Instead, carefully notice exactly how you participate in the process. By getting more and more familiar with exactly how you buy into person rating, demandingness and entitlement, you will come to recognize that you have a choice to do otherwise. One might say that by becoming very knowledgeable about how you end up accepting life’s “invitations” to become Righteously Indignant, you also learn how to effectively decline those invitations and choose to do something else.

As you continue practicing, you can come to recognize when you have begun to indulge Righteous Indignation, stop, and change to more effective actions. Keep working and you come to recognize when you are just on the edge of accepting, rather than declining, an invitation and practice choosing more effective alternative responses. Continue your efforts and you can learn to recognize invitations waaaaay out on the horizon and begin, even then, moving in a direction that fits with the life you actually want to live. This antidote, unlike the first one, doesn’t require much verbal demonstration of what’s bunk and what’s not. Rather, it highlights your ability to notice urges, in this case urges toward Righteous Indignation, and forego acting on those urges in the service of the Big Picture that you choose for your life. It underscores your ability to choose what you do and don’t do on the basis of nothing more, and nothing less, than what fits with the life you actually want to live and what doesn’t. Pursue these powers of noticing and choosing and you can greatly decrease your “drug use” while determinedly pursuing the Big Picture you have chosen for your life.

Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP

Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP

Hank has practiced psychology in Lake Oswego, Oregon, for more than twenty years. He is board certified in both Counseling Psychology and Behavioral & Cognitive Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. He works with individuals, couples, families and groups and tends to see people as troubled or suffering rather than sick or diseased. He helps people to increase positives in their lives in addition to reducing negatives.

Hank is both and founding and current board member of SMART Recovery® and is a columnist for the SMART Recovery® quarterly publication News & Views. Though he does not himself believe in the supernatural, he served eight years, ending in 2008, as Chair of the Spiritual and Religious Issues Special Interest Group of the Association of Behavioral & Cognitive Therapy.

Please visit his website to learn more about Hank. 

(c) Copyright 2016 Brenda Bomgardner

Feb 23

Don’t be a Walker (Zombie): Breaking Out of Corpus Delicti

Walking Dead

The Film Connoisseur

The Film Connoisseur

Here’s the deal. Walkers (Zombies) lack vitality. They possess no meaningful life. They are victims in the form of a dead body moving through life empty with non-functional and missing parts. Are you a Walker?

When you hold onto past injustices you are left holding onto the role of a Walker (Zombie).  First, would you agree we all have been injured at some point by another person? Maybe you are a person who has suffered horrific abuse as a child.  Maybe you have been betrayed by a loved one you trusted. Sometimes your mind tells you don’t have anything to complain about. You didn’t have bruises or broken bones. Still you experience a heavy deadness brought on by the sadness and sorrow living in your heart. You wish you could pluck the pain out of you mind and heart like a weed. It is not that easy. Everything we have experienced, seen, heard, and felt is held within our amazing body and that includes our mind (brain). There are no leaks like a sieve riddled zombie. Our whole being is an additive system built to learn and remember. In other words, we are stuck with our history.  Consequently, this mean you have unpleasant and unwanted memories you can’t just get rid of without a lobotomy.

Corpus Delicti

Does life feel like you have a black cloud over your dead body? Are you struggling to live life by building a casket for your pain so you can bury it? If this feel like a familiar experience then let me introduce you to the legal concept of corpus delicti.

Corpus delicti in Latin literally means the “body of evidence” as in the material proof needed to prove a crime has been committed. Corpus delicti is the actual victim’s body in a murder case. It can also be the remains of a charred building which has been burned to the ground by arson. Corpus delicti is the objective proof used to convict a person of a crime and hold them responsible. Without the body of evidence a person can be acquitted. They might get off the hook!

The question I find interesting when it comes to the concept of corpus delicti in connection to non-material injustices is as follows. ‘If you feel okay and life is fulfilling and you are engaged in pursuing meaningful endeavors has a wrong occurred? Have you been harmed?’ Simply said, ‘Are you harmed if you are not hurting?’ Why is this question important? Your answer can have an impact on your perspective of life. Your perspective influences your sense of vitality and happiness?

Can You Wait Out the Zombie Apocalypse

Can You Wait Out the Zombie Apocalypse

The Crime

Let’s look at the following scenario. A person comes to therapy who is an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I consider this to be a tragedy on a lot of different levels. When this person comes in for therapy they often have a goal of getting rid of the pain (the memory) so they can feel better and live a happy life. Sometimes, and maybe you feel this way, they think they are damaged or broken. They want to be fixed. Quite often, like many of us, they feel angry, depressed (perhaps suicidal), anxious and hurting. Are you a corpus delicti (body of evidence)? Are you, your pain and suffering, proof a crime has been committed.  What happens if and when you feel better? Does it mean there was no crime? I call this stage of healing the walker stage. We all walk though the land of named victimhood. The Zur Institute offers a clear picture of the landscape of victimhood.Check it out here.

You do not have to be a victim of childhood sexual abuse to know you have wounds from childhood. Since our parents, teachers, clergy and other care takers are fallible we have experienced disappointed, we all have been let down in one way or another. We all have a some form of a childhood wound such as mild neglect, rejection, abuse or even being bullied by our peers. Furthermore, it is natural to have memories and feel the sting of past hurt. What can you do about it?


8d3f2a531c1a6281878b2e3db47247d0 Hero deadBeing Innocent

The Zur Institute provides a definition of the innocent victim as a category of people who do not share any responsibility of the offence with the perpetrator. What this means is that we cannot expect them (the victim) to have been able to avert the offense by anticipating it or preventing it. In essence, the victim is/was defenseless.

collage-for-smiling-children-dec-4 innocent

  • Children who are sexually or physically abused, or neglected.
  • Rape or murder victims when the crime is unforeseen, unprovoked, and perpetrated by complete strangers.
  • Severely mentally ill or disabled adults who get hurt or exploited.
  • Those who suffer a crime while unconscious.
  • Victims of random or rampage shooting.
  • Victims of unexpected natural disasters: victims of earthquake in a non-earthquake zone.
  • Victims of corporate greed, such as those perpetuated by corporations who sell genetically modified foods which cause cancer, or corrupt banking practices, which scheme people of their savings or homes.

You can add your own example. An example I added is people who suffer from health problems they are born with or develop not caused by their own neglect. Do you see yourself as innocent yet feel guilty? Do you think or feel as if your very existence is wrong? This can be a symptom of being the body of evidence? What now? Will you claim your life back?

Living Beyond ‘The Body of Evidence’

This part is a little tricky. I do not claim to have the one answer nor do I claim to have all the answers. To begin with I believe in justice and people should be held responsible for their actions. The dilemma is when justice does not happen in a manner that repairs the harm inflicted. You have probably experienced this when you expected someone to sincerely apologize and it did not happen. In extreme cases such as murder, rape, or sexual abuse where the perpetrator is sentenced to jail rarely do they show remorse or admit wrong doing. Then what? You might find yourself in a struggle to understand why the perpetrator doesn’t feel remorse. .  The question of, “Why/”  becomes a bottomless pit.



You are on the hook (with your perpetrator) and left holding the bag in the bottomless pit. What’s in your bag? Hurt, suffering, pain, anger, resentment, vengeance, hate, frustration, hopelessness, depression, righteous indignation, rage, you name it!! Does the bag feel heavy? Can you let it go? Does the bag morph so that it ends up being your purpose in life? Whew!

What happens if you let go of the bag? Does it mean the harm inflicted is acceptable? Absolutely not! It means now is a time to explore your idea of living well. Now is the time to focus on living beyond the body of evidence.  This stage of healing is the integration of trauma, both small and large. Integration leads to becoming differentiated from the perpetrator, as well as other people in your life. I call it freedom.  You are in a fluid position of being able to see and know from different perspectives the history of your life with all its ups and downs. You can be here and now and know about then and there. You can remember then and there and see yourself here now. One step further, you can image about the future looking toward it and from within at the present moment  You are capable of gently holding with loving kindness your own life including both the light and the dark moments.  Living well is the ability to turn your focus toward meaningful and fulfilling endeavors based on your desire. Not as a distraction or way of avoidance. Without hesitation, I strongly believe this is a time of becoming whole.You can focus your time and energy in creating a life beyond trauma.

10533456_800807283293096_6604592750565235800_n CUP


Related Posts:

  1. Healing from Childhood Trauma
  2. Surviving and Thriving
  3. A Life Worth Living

(C) 2016 Brenda Bomgardner

Feb 09

FLASH: 72 Hour Sale for ACT Basic Training

If you are dropping in for the first time or if you are a frequent visitor, it’s just might be your lucky day. I am offering a 72 hour flash sale for a one day training on the basics of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

The training is on March 5th just in time to attend an advanced training by Steven C. Hayes who is coming to Denver to offer and ACT II advanced training through Praxis. Read all about here. 

Also, coming to town is Jason Luoma to facilitate an advanced training on Compassion. Click here to learn more.

If you are not sure if the one day training ACT Basics is for you give me a call/text me at 720-260-7702

The sale begins February 10th and ends at midnight February 13th.





Take time now to sign up and reserve your spot.





(c) Copyright 2016 Brenda Bomgardner

Jan 11

How to Complete Your To Do List (Even If You’re a Procrastinator)

Once upon a time there was an important project waiting to be completed that would be of benefit to you and those around you and it never got done. Gasp!!

Have you ever set out to complete a long term project just to find yourself distracted by other tasks that seem to get in the way? Or you complete part of your project and then lose momentum? Or you feel discouraged with the temptation of quitting as a route of choice – which may be a form of procrastination. If you get up in the morning with the intention of taking a step toward working on your project and find yourself cleaning the bathroom instead you are not alone. I have found myself cleaning toilets (which I deplore doing) on more occasions than I like to admit.

Brenda's to do list

Brenda’s TO DO board in her office. Where to start?

If you find yourself going to bed with the promise that tomorrow will be different and you make a to do list with a clear cut plan and then find yourself busy with trivial tasks such as dusting the baseboards of the entire house, you are most likely engaged in experiential avoidance.  This is not all bad. You need to look for the gold hidden in procrastination (experiential avoidance) as a way to focus and stay the course. I have to admit again, my baseboards are immaculate.

I have a project I have been working on and managing to put off completing by engaging in menial projects. I now have a spotless house, the cleanest closets, and most organized garage in the neighborhood. My project of agony is that I am working at writing a book. Writing the book proposal for submission to multiple publishers has been the hardest part. I find I make promises to myself to write first think in the morning. I solicit permission nagging (they have my permission to nag me) from my family and friends to help me stay focused on my long term desire of being a published author. More than being a published author I value sharing information which can help other people. It’s not that I don’t ever write. What happens is everything else seems to pull me away from writing. You could say I have a lot of excuses every day before I approach the task of writing. It feels embarrassing to admit this private secret to you. You might be familiar with this type of thinking and feeling. Feeling too tired to exercise then guilty you didn’t exercise.


When you have a to do list and the same item keeps sifting to the bottom and you feel the burn of personal horror at the failure to work on your project  keep in mind there is something very important to you veiled within the tendency to procrastination. When you notice yourself walking away from your to do list take a breath, travel inside, and peek at your thoughts. What are they telling you? Look closer and listen to the rumblings under the procrastination. Can you glimpse a spark of fear? What if you fail? What if you succeed? What if your project is rejected? What do you want to do with your life? Hidden away is your passion to accomplish something important to you within your life. It might be to get married, have children, travel, paint, volunteer, speak or publish a book. Sometimes the important stuff is disguised as ambivalence.

The pain of procrastination does not come to you because your project or goal is meaningless. Your pain is pointing to the treasure shrouded with dismissive gestures. The fire of persistence that fills your cup with purpose and meaning is muddled in there with procrastination. Furthermore, it is normal to engage in behaviors that move us away from feelings of discomfort. In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy moving away (experiential avoidance) is viewed as part of human nature. We all do it! You, me, they, and them. Repeat after me.

We all procrastinate! And it’s normal.

Now what?

Pack your suitcase we are going on a trip. Your packing list includes the fear of failure, the fear of success, the worry of rejection, and the anxiety of stories from the dark side. Are you ready? NO! That’s okay. Your suitcase is large enough to hold all your feelings, thoughts, and sensations. It will expand as needed when traveling on your journey.

Where are you going? Your choice. Close your eyes and say the first thing that comes to your mind…… Again, where are you going? Blurt it out! Open you mouth and move your lips!! You can say the first thing that comes to your mind. Quickly!!! Let it just pop out of your mouth. I am going to……………..FANTASTIC!! Notice how you feel when you say it aloud. EXCITING!?!!? SCARY?!?! Now let’s get going. Keep your eyes open and your compass direction set for the course. For your course I suggest you can make a list or journal about your commitment to your adventure. After all, it’s your life. It can help to share your commitment with another supportive person.

Suit case

Notice what happens as you begin to take action. Maybe the stuff in your suitcase you are carrying begins to show up. Maybe not. You can notice it and know you can have discomfort inside and still keep moving. You do not have to empty the suitcase or even rearrange it to walk your path. You only need to take one step at a time in the direction of your compass. If you find yourself cleaning the baseboards or bathrooms in the house turn your energy into the sparks that will light a fire and blaze toward your purpose.

One last word. If you find yourself procrastinating you are not alone and you can always get back on track. There have been many famous procrastinators that found a way to get back on track to do great things. Grab your suitcase and let me be your guide as you fine tune your trekking skills as you navigate the trail ahead.

  1. Bill Clinton 
  2. Dalai Lama 
  3. Victor Hugo
  4. Franz Kafka
  5. Saint Augustine
  6. Frank Lloyd Wright  
  7. Leonardo da Vinci
  8. Truman Capote 
  9. Margaret Atwood
  10. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

ziglar4-web Motivation

 Below are a few resources on motivation

25 Most Inspirational Songs of All Time

10 Inspirational Movies Based on True Stories

Remembering David Bowie as an Innovator—And Entrepreneur

Self-Motivation FREE Quiz 

What do you do you to stay the course or to get back on track. Your ideas and strategies can help others so please share in the comment section.

Nov 23

Change Your Life with the Power of AND

What I learned from life coaching is simple and amazing and can change your life. This little trick helped me reduce my stress level and enlarged my world of opportunities. When I share this tip with clients they are dumbfounded by the simplicity of AND. It is a three step process which can take less than a month to realize the huge benefit from the power of AND.

  1. Week one. Practice mindfulness (sometime called awareness training) for at least a total of six minutes a day for one week. You can break this up into three bite size pieces by focusing in two minute chunks. You can do anything for two minutes!! the-power-of-the-word-AND Right? Pick a few ordinary tasks or behaviors and bring your full attention into the task such as brushing your teeth, engaging your five senses while you are at work or on lunch, or noticing how you are sitting or standing right now. 
  2. Next week. Put your awareness skills (mindfulness skills) to work. Count the number of times you use the words either, or in your conversations with other people or conversation with yourself. Yourself is the inner voice that engages when you find yourself in a tug of war. You will probably lose count of how often AND shows up which is okay. I am interested in your experience with the number of times you count either or so be sure to leave a comment below. 
  3. The third week. When you notice your language is peppered with either or substitute the word AND and say the sentence again. Did you notice the difference? Is there a difference? What is the difference? Pay close attention to your feelings and your stress level (tug of war). Here is an example: “Either I love my uncle or I can’t stand him because he is overbearing.”  Now let’s substitute AND.  “I love my uncle and he is overbearing which I don’t like.” If you did not notice anything that is great too that you noticed you did not notice a difference. Keep noticing.
  4. The fourth week, you can do the same with yeah but. As an example, I struggle with anxiety about public speaking. My coach says to me, “You can give a presentation at the Colorado Counseling Association Conference.” Me,Yeah but I can’t do a presentation I get too anxious.”  Rerun with AND. ” I get very very anxious and I can give a presentation.Feelings do not prevent us from engaging in behaviors. We can always choose our behaviors regardless of our internal state. Watch your thinking and the language in your mind. Are you really paralyzed with fear? I see you moving!! I say this lightly with a wink. We take language quite literal. We all do this. I have felt paralyzed with fear AND it was difficult and challenging to do things that scare me.

maxresdefault andHow we got here

The nature of human language and cognition leads us to a place of continually evaluating almost everything we encounter. When taking the perspective of having a view point of seeing and saying things are good or bad, right or wrong, negative or positive with an either or mindset leaves little room for an expanded experience of life and especially of an expanded experience of who you are beyond an evaluation of good or bad. Successful or failure. Smart or dumb.

Does the experience of your world seem constrained? Do you find yourself caught up in a struggle of trying to figure out if you feel one way or another?  You are not alone. How did we get this way? Entanglement with evaluations began a very, very long time ago. Think back to when humankind first lived in caves on the savanna. How do you think each generation survived to produce another set of offspring?

The paranoid and skeptical caveman and cavewoman who were constantly looking for danger by evaluating the surroundings on the savanna were the survivors of the tribe. The survivors had a keen eye for good or bad leading to strengthening their cognitive abilities to judge and evaluate each new situation as safe or dangerous. Fine tuned skills developed for assessing how to get lunch without becoming lunch. Our language evolved along the lines of survival and problem solving.

Fast forward to the world of today and we still use the same skills of judging and evaluating with a strong emphasis on the words and concepts of either or. Either we are safe or we are in danger. You may have thoughts and say things like, I am either mad or happy. I am either good or bad. Lovable or unlovable. Worth or unworthy. Capable or inept.  It is the nature of survival that is embedded in our thinking and language and we can be grateful for being hardwired to survive. Yep, you can be grateful.

How can the word AND change your world? The word AND can let you step into a life that feels bigger. A life that feels more peaceful and a perspective filled with more opportunity for authenticity. How does this work? Simple!  Practice awareness of how often you use the words either or and yeah but. That is only four words. I know you can do this. Simply practice noticing. See the above four step process. A quick version: You can start with counting how often you say those words in one day. Then the next day when you notice yourself using either or replace it with AND. When you notice yourself saying yeah but replace it with AND. It’s easy. When you replace either or with AND notice how you feel and notice what your mind does. Same for yeah but. Just notice what happens when you replace it with AND. Does your perspective change? How do you experience yourself? Are you entangled with decisions about solutions?

The 4_36ba3c66fd654bf28e8c3986654a440cIMG_4820 andresult is you can have your feelings of anger, fear, frustration, sadness and feeling bad or unlovable without having to get rid of them or solve the problem of your feelings AND still proceed in doing what matters most to you.  In other words, you can feel angry and still be friends with someone. You can feel depressed and still go for a walk. You can feel unlovable and still act loving. The beauty of AND  is that you do not have to make a choice of either or you can have both experiences of good and bad and all the other feelings that might show up.

The same goes for yeah but. Let’s say you are offered an opportunity to go on an amazing adventure to someplace you have never been before and your mind says yeah but I am too scared. Yeah but leaves you with no choice. You can say, “I am scared AND I will go on an amazing adventure.” You can say, “I am scared AND I am not interested in this amazing adventure at this time.” When you say AND you have a created choices regardless of your fear. You have left the war zone.

It is a great joy for me to watch people transform their lives with the ability of increasing their awareness skills so they can notice how language and cognition is a tool to be used to grow a larger way of living. One of the next pieces of creating a fulfilling and meaning life is to gain clarity of how AND is connected to your heart’s desire. Once you are relieved of being entangled with the struggle of solving the problem of either or and yeah but ask yourself, “What next?”

Let me know how it goes!! 

(C) copyright 2015 Brenda Bomgardner

Oct 22

Clinical Training for the WINGS Foundation

I am excited to be facilitating a clinical training for the WINGS Foundation.


If you are interested in learning about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy I will be at the Jefferson County DA’s office tomorrow. Still time to signup. The training is open to therapists, health care professionals, coaches and the general public.

To sign up, click here. See you there!

Sep 29

Evolution of the Dirty Mind:

Part 2

Last month you learned it is normal to want to escape pain with behaviors that help you survive as well as the human race to survive. Behaviors such as fight, flight and freeze are hard wired in each one of us and we can be grateful for these responses. If you watch a young child or infant you can see their behavioral responses when frightened, hurt, or in pain. They pull back when hurt (flight), thrash about when in discomfort such as being too warm (fight) and startle as if frozen when frighten by a loud noise.


Painting by Karl Persson

Dirty pain evolves as language skills evolve. We develop an ability to relate anything with anything and then believe the relationships define reality. We become more dependent and attached to our internal world of our mind and gradually lose touch with the evidence the physical world presents.  We develop a dirty mind that creates a cycle of dirty pain. We try to escape the inescapable experience of our own mind. Consequently, we become trapped and stuck repeating with great effort and much “thinking about” solving the problem of emotions that are uncomfortable, memories that are unpleasant, thoughts that are  punishing, and physical pain that is normal.

Our thoughts turn toward escape whenever we experience an unwanted and aversive internal state. The interesting part of this development of being able to relate or frame together any two things is that normal discomfort becomes something we judge as something that needs fixed.

Take the emotion of anxiety and dissect it into several components. Anxiety is a pretty normal reaction when a person goes for an interview or presents a speech. Take an inventory of the experience of anxiety.

  1. Thoughts about worry, being rejected, not being good enough, things may turn out bad.
  2. Memories about the past when you were laughed at or ridiculed and failed to perform well.
  3. Bodily sensations such as flushing, jitters, heart pounding, and sweating hands
  4. More thoughts:
  5. Why do I feel this way?
  6. Reason giving as – because you make me feel this way.
  7. If only I could calm down by having a glass of wine or smoking a joint.
  8. I can’t stand it!!


This is an example of how we use our language ability to combine words into defining our reality of being worse or bad and unacceptable. Often then, we experience our very essence of “me” as being unacceptable. The stuck cycle begins when we frame and relate the natural feeling of anxiety as being something that is wrong …with us. Our problem solving survival mind turns against us as the enemy. The dirty mind is now running the show.

Clean pain such as being anxious turns to panic attacks and can even develop into agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house). The dirty mind is sad about being sad which may look like depression. It is our mind telling us we can’t accept our own experience in our internal world. Thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories become something we try to get rid of at all costs including a narrowing and shrinking of life enhancing behaviors.

The fix is to learn how to relate to your thoughts in an open and accepting manner as a natural process of the mind. This is easier said than done. See if you can begin to see your thoughts as a product of the thinking mind rather than as the enemy you need to fight off. You can befriend your internal experience. Consequently, returning to a state of clean pain rather than entangled suffering at being at war with yourself.

Aug 28

Do You Have a Dirty Mind?


Part 1:

Now that I have your attention let’s first talk about the how the mind can turn clean into dirty. The way I am using clean and dirty are as concepts and processes applied to the experience of pain. Pain comes in many forms and is generally something we do not want to experience. Another word for not wanting something is called aversion. Meriam Webster defines aversion as a strong feeling of not liking something. Feelings, emotions, memories, thoughts, and physical sensations can be events we develop an aversion to having and experiencing. The natural response to unwanted events in our private world and in the public world is to move away from the aversive event.

Your private world is anything you experience under your skin. They are events such as feelings, thoughts, memories, emotions, and physical sensations that only you know you experience and therefore they are called private – within inside you. Sometimes, private events become public events such as crying, twitching, shaking and even flushing. With private event, I can see you and you can see you doing and experiencing each of the aforementioned things. However, with private events, I do not know for certain what is happening inside of you. Chances are, I can guess and be fairly close. Guessing is a form of making up stories. The story I make or you make up about another person who is crying or shaking might be right on target and you might be considered an emotionally intelligent and empathic person. However, it’s a prudent to hold stories lightly because you don’t know for sure. Even the stories you tell to yourself should be held lightly. Why? They might change. Remember when you believed the dark was scary or the tooth fairy put money under your pillow. Did you believe that was the truth? Hold your stories lightly with a gentle embrace.



Following is an illustration of what holding lightly might look like. I see Jane crying and Jane sees Jane crying.  The story I make up, “Jane is hurt.” The story Jane makes up, “I am a happy beyond words.” I also see John crying. I make up a story about his behavior, “John must be sensitive.” John has his own story about his crying, “I am a sissy.” This is an over simplification of how you make sense of private and public events with stories of what you and others experience. We have a tendency to explain and compare our inner (private) world with other peoples’ outer (public) world. Again, hold your stories lightly with a gentle embrace and compassion.

Let’s get back to pain and aversion. To understand a dirty mind it is easiest to begin with a description of how you experienced pain from an early age when you still had a clean mind. When you were a baby and you experienced the discomfort of being hungry, tired, wet, cold, or lonely you cried or squawked until you got what you needed to be comfortable. You cried to get your needs met. You did not have stories about being good or bad and right or wrong when it came to expressing your discomfort. When you were a little older around the age of three you learned to ask to have a glass of milk or a cookie when you were hungry or thirsty. You could say, “Up Mommy, Bye Bye Daddy.” You pointed and said “cookie” and at about this time you were developing an imagination in an effort to understand the world. You could make up stories. You were able to imagine and believe the dark had scary things in it and that your parents could read your mind. Hence, you began to develop stories about being good or bad. As you acquired language your novice abilities with combining words meant you could know the experience of being told to go to your room and your imaginative skills could make up a story that meant you were bad when you were told to go to your room. Furthermore, that did not feel good. The experience became aversive.  Your thoughts and emotions (your private events and experiences) became aversive.



Here is another way to understand aversive. You touch a hot stove. It is painful and you pull away. You see a spider you feel scared you run and hide. Is that normal? Yes! Yes! It is normal to want to get away from or escape when frightened or hurt and something is causing you emotional or physical pain. Even the threat of something you perceive as undesirable is cause to run the other way. You are hardwired to escape. It is automatic to jump back when in fear. Fear is a basic emotion all humans experience. The three survival behaviors are fight, flight or freeze. I want to be sure you understand this is not only normal it is needed for you to survive and for the human race to survive. It is not good or bad and it is not right or wrong. What I am describing falls into the category of clean pain. It is when you have a clean mind in relationship with normal pain.

Dirty pain comes along a little later when your language skills become more complex along with more sophisticated cognitive abilities.  We begin to put two and two together literally and figuratively.  At first we accept our pain when it shows up even when it feel bad (aversive). Just like when we step on a nail we feel pain and we accept it as being normal. Something happen along the way to adulthood that permits us humans to form relationships based on our excellent problem solving skills.

I have a little favor to ask. Watch for your stories you make up about your own uncomfortable and undesirable (aversive) feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories, or sensations. I would love to hear what shows up! Seriously. I want to hear about your stories. It will take courage for you to share and I know you can do it. Just leave your story below in the comment section below.

Part 2: Evolution of a Dirty Mind

Related posts:

  1. Warning: Stress Is Not the Enemy
  2. Can We Really Trust Our Own Mind?
  3. My 5 Secrets to Managing the Storm


(C) Copyright 2015 Brenda Bomgardner


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