Mindfulness is further promoted through the process of cognitive defusion. When defused, people notice their internal events—thoughts, feelings, physiological sensations, memories—as they occur, in the moment. Their focus is on the events themselves (e.g., “I am having a thought”), rather than on the meaning or content of those events (e.g., “I am a hopeless person”). In this way, people do not get entangled in their internal events and are better able to let them come and go. From an ACT perspective, defusion alters the undesirable functions of internal events (especially thoughts) without changing their form, frequency, or situational sensitivity (Hayes et al. 2012). Put another way, defusion involves changing the way that people interact with their private experiences, so, whilst they still may be present, they no longer have detrimental psycho- logical/behavioral effects on them.
Defusion, SAC, and hence mindfulness are facilitated when people are willing to experience, be open to, or accept unwanted or difficult internal events. If, instead, people attempt to avoid those unwanted experiences, such avoidance diverts their responding away from the present moment and toward getting rid of, changing, or minimizing those unwanted internal events. Such inflexible responding to these types of experiences is unlikely to promote people’s values, because they are guided by trying to avoid unwanted internal states, rather than by seeing how they can best work toward their values and goals in the present situation.