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.
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.
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