VACI stands for Vital Absorbing (Creative) Interest. This is a tool you make yourself.
It is very easy to get absorbed in the rush and bustle of everyday life. There is employment and/or there is work inside the home. There may be children or other relatives to care for. There are bills, partners to attend to, legal matters, mortgage payments, broken appliances, illnesses, friends’ and relatives’ troubles. This can be stressful.
The VACI is for you. The VACI helps you create space for you, helps you take care of you. When you take care of you, you need not feel guilty. Taking care of you can make you stronger and calmer. This affects everything else in your life. In the past, you may have used a maladaptive behavior as a way of achieving a specific state of mind, a retreat, a place where you did not have to think. The VACI replaces this. It is a positive way to take yourself away, absorb yourself in the moment, and be mindful of it.
What is a VACI? Whatever you choose! It does not have to be “creative”, although it can be. A VACI can be something that is personally meaningful to you, such as preventing animal or child abuse, advocating for a cause you believe in, or volunteering in other ways. For some people, a pet is a VACI. Reading, writing, journaling, painting, photography, hiking, snowboarding, camping, fishing, listening to music, composing music, making music, cooking, gardening, sewing, crosswords, refinishing furniture, knitting, carpentry, motorcycling, drives in the country, window shopping in the city . . . the list can go on and on. All of these are examples of VACIs. Many people have more than one VACI.
Are you having trouble coming up with a VACI? You might try thinking back to your childhood. Perhaps you would like to walk barefoot in the spring mud, roll down a hill, catch snowflakes on your tongue, spin in circles, and/or stomp in puddles. Remembering and re-experiencing the exuberance of childhood can put you on the road to choosing a VACI.
When do you pursue a VACI? This is your choice. Your own circumstances will dictate when it makes sense. You may find it useful to turn to a VACI when you feel anxious, depressed, or angry, if this is possible.
How often do you pursue a VACI? As often as you like. There are no rules.
Now that you have chosen to give yourself a life free of debilitating maladaptive behavior, you will find you have more time. A VACI can be a useful and enjoyable way to fill this time. It is limited only by your imagination and your resources. A VACI can also be useful in conjunction with the DISTRACT tool. If you have an urge, having a VACI allows you to do something you enjoy instead of focusing on the urge.
Many VACIs change over time. You may have as few or as many as you like. You do not have to be good at a chosen VACI. You simply have to enjoy doing it. Your VACIs are meant to help you take care of you, and therefore to help you feel fulfilled in your own time . . . to move you towards balance.