My Daily DBT Recommends My Dialectical Life

My Daily DBT was an exercise for me to start blogging daily about my use of DBT skills and share them with you.

While doing this project, I realized that a friend of mine is already doing this beautifully through her site, My Dialectical Life.  She charges $15 a month for you to receive a daily email with skills, ideas for implementing them, encouraging quotes, and more, and I can see why it is worth it.  She puts so much time into doing this on a daily basis, and the information is valuable.

I will continue to tweet from my Wise Mind using the @DailyDBT twitter handle, so be sure to continue following me there for helpful tips on DBT.  I will leave the posts to date up on this site, and I will continue blogging from my personal blog, Healing From Borderline Personality Disorder.

Thank you, and keep practicing the skills!

DBT: Half Smile, Though Your Heart Is Aching

Last night I watched a documentary that caused me to become emotionally dysregulated.  I am a vegetarian, primarily for ethical reasons, and I knew that this movie, about being vegan (with a diet completely free of any animal or animal byproducts, including dairy, eggs, and whey) would likely cover some information on the cruelty that animals that are produced for food endure --  things I find extremely difficult to conceive, let alone watch. (Don't worry -- I don't get into them here.)

I was also very interested in watching the film, because although I don't see myself as a full-on vegan in the near future, I am interested in reducing my intake of dairy and wanted creative meal ideas, and so, I chose to watch it.

During some scenes, I cried so much and felt so sad for the animals. At one point, I had to fast forward the film, because I realized that I needed to take it down a notch in terms of the emotional intensity I was experiencing.

Fortunately, a scene then came on about Ohmahnee Farmed Animal Sanctuary.  I got to see happy animals who get to live out their lives on a farm with no threat of ever being harmed.

Seeing this, I felt relieved.  I wanted to smile, but distraught from what I had just seen, it was difficult to feel natural doing so. I wanted to feel better though.

Instead of forcing things, I practiced the DBT skill of "half smiling." (Not sure what "half smiling," how to practice it, or why it works? Click here to learn more.) The basic idea is that you smile half way. No forcing. No being phony. Just the beginnings of a smile.

It helped. I was able to take some deep breaths and eventually feel less sadness.

The next time you are trying to shift your mood from sadness to, at a minimum feeling less sad, give this skill a try.

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

Extra: I created a video/vlog about this experience over at my personal blog. Click here to see that now.

PS -- Here's a quote from the movie that I think applies to life in general:

"Veganism is not a religion. It's not about being perfect. It's about reducing suffering." -- Quote paraphrased from the movie Vegucated.

DBT: Breaking Free From a Judgmental Mindset

How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey. -- Steve Maraboli

Steps for reducing judgment/judging:

  • Determine whether reducing judging is a priority for you. If it is, you are more likely to succeed in reducing this behavior. If you're only doing it because someone tells you that you should be less judgmental, you may not yet have the motivation to follow through.
  • Notice Judgments (observe, notice, describe). Judgments may come in the form of thoughts, actions, and voice tone.
  • For one week, monitor judgments by counting them each day. It is said that you can reduce a behavior by counting it.
  • Replace judgments with consequences. (For example, if you notice yourself saying, "She's a jerk because she hasn't called me back yet," try, "I feel hurt that she hasn't called me back yet.")

Here's a really good video that a student did as part of a final project on the DBT Skill of Non-Judgment:

Your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

DBT: Don't Believe Everything You Think

The urge to quit doesn't mean I have to quit.

If you're feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, and want to quit, you still have a choice. Instead of being at the mercy of the urge and automatically giving in to it (or even thinking that you have to), you can take your control back.

See the urge for what it is: an urge.  Remember that you are the one noticing your experience. You are not your experience!

Describe your experience. You can do that in this way:

"The urge to quit has arisen within me. I am noticing it."

At this point, you have a choice to either give in to the urge or to take steps to get stronger on your path to wellness by choosing ways to cope with the urge.  You might distract with other activities or soothe yourself through your senses until the urge passes -- and it always does.

Sometimes you just have to give yourself a day before taking action.  There have been many times that I've wanted to quit minor and major things in my life. When I began to say, "Okay, I don't have to do anything right now -- I can put this off and see how I feel tomorrow" -- that's when I really began to notice and believe that urges pass. This has saved me from sabotaging and destroying many good things in my life.

Give it a try!

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

You May Also Enjoy Reading:

Stop Sabotaging: A 31 Day DBT Challenge to Change Your Life

DBT: What NOT to Do When Having a Mood Swing

We all experience mood swings from time to time, but for those of us with emotion regulation issues, they can make us feel incredibly dysregulated.  When we feel this way, there is often a tendency to want to resist (deny/ignore/fight) the change in mood, which is what NOT to do when having a mood swing. Many of us have found that responding in this way is ineffective.

However, a skill that can be very effective is mindfully applying opposite action, which is an option to work on shifting an unwanted mood or emotion. You're not denying, ignoring, or fighting the skill -- you are consciously noticing it, accepting it, and then working to shift it.

Here are the steps.

First, we accept that the emotion or mood is here for now:
This mood is uncomfortable, but it will pass -- all moods are transient. I will feel better soon.

Second, we ask impulse/behavior the unwanted mood prompts:
For example, for me, last night loneliness led to feelings of deep sadness.  Sadness usually causes us to want to withdraw and wallow.

Determine the opposite action - something that will induce the opposite feeling:
My mood swing came on near midnight, so going out and being around others wasn't a real option, but I took to Twitter and connected there. I also began watching a movie that I believed would elicit positive feelings. I have about 20 minutes left of the film, but I believe I can recommend it at this point.  If you're feeling down and need a boost in your faith in humanity, I recommend watching Craigslist Joe.  It really did help improve my mood. I felt less sad after watching it.

You can watch the trailer here:

You can click here to watch the entire movie at Amazon.

What uncomfortable mood are you experiencing. If you go through the three steps above, what solutions do you come up with to help you shift effectively and mindfully?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

You may also enjoy reading:

How to Change Your Emotions [If You Want To] - Opposite Action

DBT: De-Stress Now with Differential Relaxation (John Harvey)

Are you one of those people who carries tension in your muscles? Do you find yourself tensing up or ending up with tension headaches and discomfort?  I can relate to this.  I especially get tense around my shoulders and neck, but sometimes I notice I'm even tense in my arms, legs, hands, and feet!

Tension is one of our body's ways of reacting to stress, and it benefits us to notice it and then release it.

Do you tend to feel resistance when it comes to slowing down for fifteen minutes or so to do a relaxation exercise?  I tend to experience this, as I worry that it won't work and that I'll be too anxious to sit still and complete the exercise. It seem, inevitably though, that if I stick with it, the benefits are substantial.

Consider giving yourself the gift of a few moments of mindful, guided, muscle relaxation with this video.  Notice how you feel now before you start. Rate your tension and stress on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being absolutely NO stress, and 10 being the most stressed you've ever been in your life.

Now try the exercise.

After the exercise, please rate your stress level on a scale of 0-10, and feel free to share it in the comments below.

Stress management is an important part of managing our emotional health, and an exercise like this falls under the category of "Improve the Moment" in DBT.

Thanks for reading.
More soon.

DBT for Mood Swings and Emotion Dysregulation

Sometimes emotions can show up intensely and unexpectedly.  It can be quite frightening to have a sudden change in mood, say from happiness to sadness, but people who suffer from emotion dysregulation disorders often experience this (and the related stress) quite frequently.

On New Year's eve, just before midnight, I was overcome with sobbing.  I had just watched the Dick Clark commemorative show, which was filled with clips from music videos that I remember seeing when I was a little girl.  My mood shifted from happiness to nostalgic to sadness and grief, and quite rapidly.

What do you do when you suddenly feel flooded with emotion?  I decided, instead of fight the urge to cry or deny that it was valid to be having the experience, to allow myself to experience and let it pass, as I knew it inevitably would. In doing this, I practiced the DBT skill of Radical Acceptance, sometimes known as, "it is what it is."

That's the great thing about emotions and moods -- they can't last forever.  It seems that if we try to fight them, deny them, or suppress them, we only give them power to become stronger. If we allow ourselves to feel safe in experiencing them -- to let them flow through us and pass, we can save ourselves a lot of needless suffering caused by resistance.

I find that such episodes can be exhausting and that much self-care and self-soothing is needed to calm my nervous system and bring me back to baseline.

Can you relate? Do you experience frequent shifts in mood?  How do you handle them?
Might you try to mindfully allow the feeling to express itself and pass next time?

Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

You may also enjoy reading:

Practicing the DBT Skill "Radical Acceptance" in Baby Steps
Radically Accepting Uncomfortable Emotions
Mood Swings and Unstable Emotions with BPD

DBT: A Dialectical New Year

How was 2012 for you? If you answered "it was a terrible year/the worst year of my life," or "it was the best year," either primarily negative or positive events came to the forefront of your mind when I asked.  We all know that, realistically, no year is "all good" or "all bad."

Even in a year filled with sorrow, there were moments of joy and happiness, and even in a year filled with happiness and success, there were moments of disappointment and sadness.

In DBT, we are urged to notice black or white thinking (also known as polarized thinking and all-or-nothing thinking).  On this first day of a new year, it's a good opportunity to reflect on 2012 in a dialectical way. (What is a dialectic?)

For each of us, the past year was filled with experiences of all sorts. Sad moments and happy moments coexisted in the same year. Successes and failures occurred within the same twelve month period.

2013 will be no different.  As we enter into the new year, let's practice noticing how seemingly opposing feelings, thoughts, and desires can co-occur, and how we can slow it down, observe this, and make sense of it all.

Wishing you a very Happy, Skillful New Year!

Thanks for reading.
More soon.