Emotional Regulation. COMMON Challenges. Notes, research and examples ........ II.
Some notes 'n' things from the session and some digressing (and more swearing):
Okay. I'm keeping this brief because I'm done in and this bastard app keeps crashing.
Skills deficit - unlearned emotional management skills.
Why the majority of people with EUPD, contrary to the (some what understandable) attitudes and stigmas out there from the uneducated and uncaring in the subject, we are not in fact, manipulative and negative by design. Our destructive behaviours are a reaction, an ongoing reaction to trauma. It's these reactions we are trying to unlearn and change by learning the skills that we were never taught as children and young people.
Some people ARE manipulative and ass holes, by design, with malice. The vast majority of people with BPD are not and this has been proven in the fields of psychology and psychiatry through deep, ongoing studies.
BPD sufferers, although a pain in the arse when acting out and indeed, in, are in the main not trying to hurt people willingly, on purpose, entirely consciously. The negative toxic behaviours are mall-adapted fucked up reactions to traumatic stress, everyday stresses (just can't cope, overwhelmed), no healthy life/coping skills to fall back on, and often a fucked up amygdala and hippocampus (damaged by years of traumatic stress), as has been confirmed in my case anyway.
The healthy behaviours were never learned due to, in my case, traumatic things and parents who didn't know how to parent, to put it in nut shell.
We discussed this at depth, the what and why's and how's of it all. To much to go into in this summing up of the session and a bit too private for this blog entry.
It was good to get some in-depth feedback, vindication and back up from psychology professionals on this topic. Some clarity about what is and is not "manipulation" and how maladaptive behaviour doesn't automatically mean one has a sneaky as fuck, horrid personality. When I got ill again, I was told I was just that and that i was a "nutter" and that I was an emotional bully and a damn sight worse.
I was an emotional bully. But not intentionally and not calculated and it was not the person I ever wanted or want to be again. It was a horrible, unwell, destructive and dark reactions to my inner world that had got out of control. I was fucked.
These are not excuses. No. I was a nasty piece of work there for a while.
These are reasons. Facts. Facts I am facing and addressing, right here, right now.
Why we learn maladaptive coping skills and how that happens.
The fact that the vast majority of us were not taught the most rudimentary emotional coping skills as children and teenagers, even young adults as we were developing goes a long way in explaining a lot about manipulative behaviours in adults. Not just BPD and but in general. Traumatic experiences aside. Lots of us BPD peeps we did not learn about healthy emotional skills and interaction. Rather, many of us learned the opposite. That effects our entire lives. It has mine.
As a result, more often than not, we become angry at parents/guardians and that impacts how we feel about others on our lives, especially those who we let get close to us. Anger is transferable and people who do not deserve it get the brunt of our brokenness. These learned patterns need unlearning and replacing with healthier patterns of thought.
Fuck. Is it real that at 40 something years old I am only now getting the actual correct and appropriate support and help with this crock of shit?
Still, I must practice critical acceptance of this. But it sucks to be honest. But there you go.
We looked at how these maladaptive behaviours we unfortunately develop to cope and survive the neglect and abuse become habit and patterns of behaviour, they become deeply ingrained schemeas, they become physical in our neural pathway makeup that partially serve us with short term benefits (maladaptive coping). However the long term psychological and emotional consequences, the neural damage, and other forms of damage and self destructive factors slowly but surely destroy our happiness and our lives.
Self destructive patterns of behaviour. A real C U Next Tuesday.
We looked at mood based decision making.
Triggers that dis-regulate our emotions and actions. Emotion = action.
Triggers that place us in a "fuck it" kind of funk or worse.
Depressive, angry vibe. Stubborn moods. Mood swings I've been afflicted with all of my life pretty much. Not fun. Seriously dark, black holes of despair.
The kind of moods where we don't get things done. Goals are not met. Teeth are not cleaned. Showers are not had. Life is not lived. Procrastination on every level.
Those moments we can't even be arsed to try to be "skill-full" even if we have insight into them.
This in DBT terms is known as willfull mind. The opposite of willing mind.
Willing Vs Wilful.
(or is it wilful? Wilful of willful?)
We discussed how these mood based mind sets and decision making choices are ineffective head spaces and must be regarded as red flags and knowing how to recognise these red flags and act on them in healthy manner and that is why we are here discussing this.
Knowing when it's time to calm down, switch it up or force some effort and find a mindful pause in thought to help change the funky mood and how to go about doing that.
We looked at:
False self defeating beliefs and our ability to manage those thoughts.
To much to type up here and I haven't got the time. Instead, here is some good stuff I was reading on the subject ripped from the web from
In DBT, willingness refers to recognising the reality of the situation and being an effective problem solver. It is the opposite of fighting what is happening and refusing to tolerate the facts around you.
We often see in popular culture the admiration of grit and willpower. There is this idea that if you are not succeeding in something it's because you lack willpower and you just need to buckle down and try harder. Refuse anything but your strictly planned goal! In DBT this is referred to as willfulness and we see it as a limiting way of looking at a problem.
In real life some things can’t be changed or aren’t worth changing, and instead the need to recognise the reality and be flexible in our problem solving is far more effective.
So, in this exercise we are going to practice willingness - a skill that will help you find creative and flexible solutions to your problems. Distress Tolerance: Willingness vs. Willfulness
In this exercise we will go over three steps that will help solve a problematic situation that you are experiencing. First you will describe the problematic situation, you will state what you are willful about (what you are refusing to accept and how you are fighting this situation), and then you will proceed to figure out what you are willing to do about the problem (after you've radically accepted the facts about it).
Step One: Describe the Situation
First, describe the problematic situation. Try to state the facts - what happened, when it happened, who was involved and what is the problem that you are experiencing. Don't write down how you feel about it or what your thoughts are (those will be the next steps). This step by itself, will help you start seeing the situation in a way where you willingly are going to be able to solve it (instead of willfully, i.e. by fighting and resisting the situation).
Example: "I got a bad performance review at work last week. My supervisor and I don’t see eye to eye. I am very dissatisfied and don’t want to accept the performance review."
Step Two: How Are You WiIlful About this Situation
Describe your emotions, your thoughts and your physical sensations that reflect how you are resisting the situation and how you don't want to tolerate what is happening. After this, write the result from this way of solving the situation - what you want to do.
Example: " I really don't believe that I was treated fairly, and I think that I deserve a much better performance review and raise than what I got. All of my other performance reviews have been great, so I don't think that this is right! I assume that my new supervisor has it out for me, and doesn’t appreciate all the work I am doing because I do my work quietly and don't suck-up. Also, I am being punished for disagreeing, I don’t just nod say yes to everything like my coworkers. This is just so unfair! I want to talk to my supervisor and HR and really just have an argument about this performance review. I am feeling very angry and I see no problem in me expressing that anger!"
*This way of solving the problem clearly will produce tension and is not the best solution. Having a heated argument will probably not result with positive effects. Step Three: What Are You Willing To Do
In this step we will explore the alternative concept of willingness. If you accepted all the facts of the situation, what would your emotions and thoughts be? What would you be then willing to do? Is there a different, more flexible solution as opposed to spending unnecessary energy fighting the unchangeable facts? Take your time and think about it.
Example: "If I accept the facts of the situation, that I got a bad performance review and that right now I can't change the past or the assessment that I got, I would probably feel a little ashamed but also really curious about what went wrong. What I would do is have a meeting with my supervisor, and openly try to understand what my weaknesses were. Maybe there is really something that I haven't understood well, or maybe I've missed something important. Either way, there is no harm in asking in a calm manner. I will proactively ask for more frequent feedback. If none of that works and I just can’t get on with them, maybe I will just explain that we aren’t a good fit and see if I can get transferred to another division or look for another job."
Perhaps the concept of willingness vs. willfulness is a little abstract at first to internalise. Take your time and think about how you would apply the willingness approach in your everyday life.
Also, maybe you will become aware that you spend a lot of time refusing to accept what cannot be changed. Use this awareness to try to substitute this attitude with the more liberating one - willingness.
Use the worksheet to think about a situation and how you approached it willfully and willingly. Example:
Is this concept similar to radical acceptance?
As you dive deeper into the DBT skills (like radical acceptance) and exercises that we prepared for you, you will notice that many of them are connected. For example, to be willing to find a flexible solution to a problematic situation you want to solve you would need to radically accept the facts first. Also, you will probably consult your wise mind in order to check whether the solution you picked is the one that you feel most right about.
How can I more easily remember the difference between willfulness and willingness?
Try to remember it this way: if you feel frustrated and are trying to change something that simply cannot be changed and you spend a lot of energy in vain - that is willfulness. On the other hand, willingness makes you effective about solving the problematic situation. You accept the facts and you do what you need to solve the situation, no more, no less. Willingness feels better than willfulness - it feels more light and there is a liberating sense of going forward without feeling bitter about what you don't like.
How does this exercise fit into the big picture of distress tolerance?
You can look at this exercise as a new skill to better solve problems. If you frequently or strongly get overwhelmingly emotional and that prevents you from living optimally, then you will probably find this exercise useful. Thinking about events from the perspective of willingness will soothe your extreme emotions and will help you in a situation of emotional distress. Remember, the distress tolerance skills are all about surviving the emotional crises that you experience without making them worse.
⬆⬆ A good article and the worksheet example is simple but effective and I use that format in my private journal.
On to the next bit of the session and we got into:
Take a moment and stop shoulding!
We then went on to discuss the words should and shouldn't and how they are loaded words, full of negative connotations and pressure.
Something that has been my Achilles heel all my life. Applying to much pressure on myself to get shit done in order to compensate for feeling worthless and failing because of the unbearable perceived pressure. Catch 22.
Should, shouldn't, failure and judgements.
We need be mindful of the should's and shouldn't and validate our self's non judgmentally in what ever situation we are in rather than heap on unnecessary self expectations on to our own backs.
Think about it differently and try to critically accept what actually is going on.
"We shouldn't should all over ourselves"
This was a penny dropping moment first time around on this bit, because I do this a lot! Allllll the fucking time actually. Less so at the moment as I have been very mindful of this but I still need to keep looking at this and practising being in the moment and accepting what ever is going on and deal with it mindfully.
It is what it is.
This is another good article I have stolen:
“Should” is a shame-based statement, here’s how to move towards non-judgement and still knock out your to-do list in 2020 (sic).
It happened a few months ago. I bicycled to my local gym and said hello to a regular who lives in my neighbourhood. “I really should bike here,” she told me. But why? I thought. She had already accomplished the hard part, arriving to our challenging weight training class. Why add on one more “should?”
I’m guilty of this myself: I should cook at home more, I should make the bed, I should work out more, I should be adult enough to keep a succulent alive, I should be finally getting around to learning how to smile in my Instagram photos, I should call my mom. But hearing the word aloud from my gym classmate made me pause my endless cycle of shoulds—only compounded by my new year’s resolutions.
Our waterfall of shoulds is clouding our to-do lists and they often imply we’ve already failed and—frankly—they often don’t seem to make us more productive. UK-based psychologist Sophie Mort a.k.a. Dr. Soph agrees with this. In a recent blog, she examines how “should” is a form of self-criticism, writing: “When we criticise and reject ourselves (even in such a subtle manner as when using the word should) we create anxiety and stress in our minds and bodies. What do we know about anxiety and stress? … They shut down our brains ability to problem solve and to maintain attention to a new task.”
To get some insight about how to escape the anxiety surrounding the “should” cycle I called up my former colleague Cindy Finch, who is a writer, clinical therapist, and adjunct professor of psychology at Pepperdine University.
“In my circle, we call that should-ing on yourself,” Finch said. “When I say “should” it’s a shame-based statement. And by that, I mean that it’s not that I made a mistake, or did something wrong. It’s I am wrong at a core level.” She says that when we use shame as a belief, at its roots is the idea that we are flawed. “If I say words like ‘should, aught, must’ I’m not teaching myself new behaviour. I’m just using a negative emotion to create a positive behaviour—and that doesn’t work.”
Instead it can be helpful to understand how change happens and lean into that. Just how does change occur? She says it starts with a thought or an urge. “For example, if I want to run a marathon I don’t just begin at the start line on a Sunday morning at the LA Marathon—there were multiple steps before that like picking out shoes, finding a running partner, practising … it’s a very long build up to run a marathon. But even before all of that happens the thought of, ‘Maybe I want to run a marathon,’ is the beginning of change,” Finch explains.
But if the next day you wake up and don’t go for a run or your too hungover from happy hour, and start blaming yourself for not being able to even get out the door—pause. “Don’t beat yourself up and say, ‘you idiot you didn’t go running,” Finch says. “We short circuit ourselves when we get into the blaming and shaming.”
A better way than “should-ing” on yourself?
Stop and notice those negative thoughts and shift them to staying curious about what a runner might do instead of blaming yourself, Finch says. “That’s has a whole different feeling to it than I’m just a piece of shit that didn’t get out of bed today.” You might not have gotten out of bed for a run, but you can spend time finding a group of other runners to help you stay accountable, plan your training schedule, or research new running gear that you need online.
While you’re at it, it helps to give yourself some sort of validation in the form of a positive or supportive comment and to stay away from all-or-nothing thinking. Finch says to take out the judgement good or bad, and manage your expectations by setting small achievable goals—and celebrating your wins even if they’re small.
“A lot of us have the narrative in our head that if you really wanted to do something you already would have done it. Instead notice the small things that are unfolding where change is happening,” Finch says. She calls it gentle awareness.
Finch recognises that some people are indeed motivated by shame—but it’s likely that they burn out quicker. “That’s a stressful way to live,” she says. Why not instead, take a non-judgement stance towards yourself and others to protect your energy.
According to Finch, another way to get out of the should trap is to build in solutions. If you build in a partner that is going to meet you at the gym, for example, then there is no “should.” Try problem solving ahead of time so you don’t get into the loop of mental anguish.
What are some words to use instead of “should”?
I can go the gym. I get to make my bed. I choose to spend an extra hour studying or reading.
If you give yourself a choice—you haven’t already failed.
Written By, Sophia Kercher
This blog was originally posted on: https://www.girlboss.com/life/stop-saying-should
⬆⬆ Spot on.
Then we spoke about .......
This feels like it's never going to end:
We discussed how when in the trows of a particularly dark episode it feels like eternal hell but, actually and we already know it really deep down but cant access the logic, no emotion will last forever. It doesn't and it won't.
Transition of negative emotions into a better place will eventually happen and always does. It can be given a nudge in the right direction though with learned skills and practices. I believe I becoming testament to this.
I can't handle this:
Discussing the feelings and emotions of that horrid feeling and the emotions and physical feelings it can being to the surface. We all know how that feels in our own way so I wont bang on about that here today.
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
Look it up and read it. ✔️ - Done - ordered. I need to read this when I finish my pile of books waiting to read already! recommended by Debbie, one of our DBT peeps:
We also touched upon about how important positive affirmations are and the need to practice them and repeat them. Very very important to challenge those negative schemeas.
Make them your mantras!
Things we kinda spoke about in brief in the next bit, well, touched on, key points in a nut shell:
Difficult/bad emotions - shit happen, it just does.
Emotional mind - as opposed to "wise mind".
Weak/crazy - allowing ourselves to feel certain ways does not make us weak. Being "stoic" or disassociating from certain feelings all the time is not effective, the same way being over sensitive all the time isn't. I have suffered with all of this in different phases over the years and in different ways with different people. It's not straight forward.
Black and white thinking - all or nothing, totally good or totally bad thinking with no grey ares thinking to balance out thoughts out. Again, I slip in and out of this and it's complex. I now know why, how and what to try and do about it. I am working on this.
Trying to find wisemind. The middle ground.
Rational vs emotional - as above but making comparison between the two discussing examples.
Fact checking skills - getting them fact straight and acting on FACT not emotion and judgement.
Self regulation skills - discussing the skill practices available that we have covered and the ones that we are yet to cover.
Challenge the dark thoughts - talking about reasons and need to challenge dark thinking with light thinking, positive thinking. PMA!
What other interpretations are possible - recapping on being mindful in making the effort to find the opposing interpretations, healthier, non catastrophising alternative interpretations. The crux of this unit, really.
And then, very importantly I feel and eloquently explained to us by Debbie, how
some intense emotions that many of us BPD bods experience, can very positive and beautiful and can produce wonderful things. Creative things. Passionate things. very empathic, compassionate things. The rarely addressed side of our stormy conditions. The silver lining to the storm clouds. And that is really really profoundly important to highlight amongst all the heavy dark stuff.
The beautiful deep profound positive emotions and reactions need regulating though, as not to go to high or to OTT or come crashing down after a "BPD high" so to speak. And I think that is a thing. BPD and bi-polar often get mixed up because of this but it is different.
I think sometimes, counter intuitively, we can be beautifully dark. Some real magic comes out of those black places.
"Difficult or negative emotions are bad to have!"
They need regulating, to find the middle way, wise mind.
We briefly touched upon genetics and genetic triggers and how they can effect BPD hand in hand with environmental factors and in some but not many people, genetics the sole cause of BPD.
Twin Studies Show Genetics Play a Large Role in BPD.
There have been a few twin studies of BPD, which have shown that 42% of variation in BPD is caused by genetics and 58% is caused by other factors, such as the environment. This suggests that BPD is fairly strongly related to genetic causes.
In addition to environmental factors — such as a history of child abuse or neglect — borderline personality disorder may be linked to: Genetics. Some studies of twins and families suggest that personality disorders may be inherited or strongly associated with other mental health disorders among family members.
Borderline personality disorder does run in families. An individual with a parent, child, or sibling with BPD is five times as likely to be diagnosed with the disorder than someone who has no such family connection.
So, there ya go.
We recapped on our session by talking about the need to be effective in our emotional regulation and how we interact with others and our own internal dialogue and the ways we can practice being effective and the need to try and get that shit locked down. I still have work to do on being effective despite some, well, actually, quite a lot of progress on that front. I still have lots and lots of work to do.
Stolen from one of my go to DBT resources for guidance and inspiration at https://www.dbtselfhelp.com/. A good site, check it out if you are looking for DBT insights.
Being Effective - Doing What Works
The goal of this lesson is to focus on being effective -- to focus on doing what works, rather than what is "right" versus "wrong" or "fair" versus "unfair." Another way to think of it is as the opposite of "cutting off your nose to spite your face." The more I practice Wise mind with a nonjudgmental stance and remain focused, the easier it is to include the Effective skill. Being effective is often allowing ourselves to let go of feeling 'right' so strongly, that it overshadows our ability to make decisions that may correct a situation. Being determined to be right, or feel it's a matter of principle, can be a very self-defeating decision. In other words, letting go of a desire to be right and doing what works using DBT skills is being effective. Frequently, I have the opportunity to practice being effective. If I'm driving down the road and the driver of another car is trying to cut me off and cut ahead of me, I find it most effective to slow down and let the person move on. If I get caught up in the fact that I legally have the right-of-way and don't allow the other car in front, I face the possible consequences of being in an accident or a victim of road rage. Does this mean I should always give in? Defiantly not. But I have to weigh the importance of the situation and determine whether it is worth my energy to prove "I am right and you are wrong."
Pick your battles wisely! If my son came to me asking me to give him $120 for tickets to a concert, I would say no and not back down. For me, I might not be able to pay a bill, like for electricity if I gave him the money. I considered the consequences of the situation and acted in a way that was ultimately effective. It seems that Effectiveness is often tied up with 'Radical Acceptance,' one of the Distress Tolerance skills. I don't have to like the situation or agree with the other person. Even if I am right and the other person is clearly 'wrong,' it might be most effective to let it go. In order to help me tolerate being effective, I can radically accept the situation. It's all about economy of energy. In the situations above, I evaluated the situation in the car and decided that the situation wasn't important enough to get into a snit about. I could imagine myself raving at the other driver and getting upset, but to what end? Will it make much difference in my life? On the other hand, having enough money to pay my bills is important. This situation could have a big effect on my life. I might risk having the electricity shut off and getting a bad credit rating. My son's desire to see a concert doesn't compare to the distress I would feel when I couldn't pay a bill. I understand that the consequences may be that my son will be angry with me for a time. Again, I can use the skill of radical acceptance to help me tolerate his anger. I could say to myself, I have made the decision. I'm unwilling to change my mind, so I might as well radically accept the consequences of his anger.? (This also helps to keep me from reacting impulsively to my emotions.)
Do you remember the last time you "cut off your nose" to make a point? Have you ever played by the rules to get something you really needed, e.g., health care for yourself or another family member? How did that feel at the time? (Perhaps you felt like you were sacrificing some of your self-respect for the sake of achieving your objective.) How do you feel about it now? (Perhaps you feel like you acted effectively.)
Have you ever imposed your own culture or views on others? Have others imposed their views on you?
Are there situations in your life right now where vengeance, useless anger or righteousness are keeping your from being effective?
So yeah, in a nut shell, are my emotions and reactions effective as in:
Appropriate for situation?
Good for your goals?
A skill that fits and works?
Check the facts and weigh it up mindfully. Find the pause for a moment and think about what skill your need to reach out for in order to keep your shit locked down and not make the situation 10X worse than it is already or needs to be.
In my efforts to remain effective in moments of self doubt, depression and BPD wobbles, I have used this resource online just to give me some structure in keeping on the straight and narrow. Using these resources helps me to not reach moments of catastrophe and melt downs and actually helps me to keep my head straight about what does and does not matter and indeed who matters and who does not. Practising these skills has been essential and has helped to access further more advanced skills in my emotional life.
just last week I used this resource and this very format in my journal to help me press the fuck it button on someone and something and move on without kicking off (bridge burning skills), which would have been a waste of energy and pointless in my life. It work!
The skill of being effective refers to actively doing what needs to be done so that you will have your needs met or in order to move closer to a certain goal (Marsha Linehan). This DBT skill is directly related to experiencing positive emotions: when you get things done and are effective in life you feel good. Maybe you've been feeling depressed for a while and you have been postponing your obligations and this, in turn, makes you feel more depressed. Being effective can be hard, but look to make small progress to get the ball rolling, and over time you can make real progress at developing this skill and improving the quality of your life. DBT Emotion Regulation: Being Effective
In order to practice being effective, first you need to know what your goals are. We are going to look at the short-term goals that you have for this day and the long-term goals that you want to achieve in the near future.
Part One: Short-Term Goals
Think about the things you need to do today. Start with the small and obvious tasks - when people experience depression and low mood, even these tasks can seem like too much work. That's okay. We'll look at the basic needs, step by step. Think about cooking a meal, getting a shower, cleaning or tidying your apartment. If they seem too much to you, just remember that you will do them spread out during several hours.
Then, continue with the other obligations that you have, such as work or studies. Set realistic goals. Think about what you've been perhaps postponing. Write all this short-term goals in the worksheet.
Next, think about the precise steps you have to take in order to achieve this. For some it may be obvious and self-explanatory (like taking a shower, or getting something to eat). For the others you may need to write the steps.
You may find this exercise beneficial to do on a daily-bases. If that is the case then we encourage you to do so.
Short-term goals for today:Steps to reach them:1. Getting a showerGet in the shower!2. Eating a healthy breakfastChoose recipe, get ingredients, prepare meal, enjoy, do dishes3. Doing the work activities I've been postponingMaking phone calls, and answer mail for starters.4. Cleaning up my apartmentCleaning the piled up dishes and doing laundry.
Part Two: Long-Term Goals
Thinking about the long-term goals that will make you fulfilled is a very important task that also can be very enjoyable. Think about all the things that you wanted to do, but for some reason you never got to do. Relax and think broadly - do not limit yourself on things that you feel like you should be doing. Maybe there are certain hobbies or activities you always wanted to do.
If you want to work on developing a certain aspect of your life, then you can refer to the Actions Based on Values worksheet. Think about all these aspects.
Choose one goal from the brainstorming that you did and write it down in the worksheet. Then just like with short-term goals, think about and write down the steps to achieve this goal.
1. Long-term goal:
I want to pursue painting on a semi-professional level in my free time. Eventually I would like to have some of my paintings shown in an art exhibit perhaps in some local, independent gallery.
2. Steps to achieve this goal:
- I feel like I would like to educate myself a little more. I will search for online courses and enrol in one of them. - I will spend two hours each day painting. Not only I find this very relaxing, but it brings me an aesthetic fulfilment which feels amazing. - I will work until I have several paintings I am comfortable showing to other people. - I will start researching on how to approach indie galleries so that I can get my work exhibited.
3. Worksheet ⬆⬆⬆
Use the worksheet to set your goals, and break them down into actionable steps.
So, just to really drive this stuff home:
Choose Willingness over Willfulness (stubbornness) :
It's all about ....
Being open and willing and surrendering to what is required to be healthy and what is helpful to your own well being.
Not being stubborn and resistant to positive action and change.
Willfulness is a really unhelpful mind set/attitude and is used to fight reality and acceptance.
A good practice to look up and read about and keep practising is willing hands. Look it up!
Stolen straight from these legends: https://peerguideddbtlessons.weebly.com/willing-hands.html
WILLING HANDS - A SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE DBT SKILL
Willing hands has to be one of my favourite skills in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, or DBT. It is one of the skills from the DBT Distress Tolerance module, and is what we call in DBT an acceptance skill. From a DBT perspective, acceptance is a process that reduces our suffering and increases our feelings of freedom, by allowing us to come to terms with the facts of our life as they are in the current moment. Willing hands is a way of accepting reality physically, with our bodies.
To do Willing Hands we need to un-clench our hands, turn them palms up and relax our fingers. If seated we simply turn our hands palms up and rest them on our lap or on the arms of our chair, and if standing we turn our palms forward and relax our shoulders, arms and hands. Often anger is the opposite of accepting reality - anger can be associated with a belief that things should not be as they are. Anger motivates us to change reality, to problem solve, to overcome something. Sometimes this is an appropriate response, but in other situations, such as situations that we cannot change for the moment no matter how angry we feel about them, acceptance is a wiser strategy, and one that causes less suffering for us. Try this exercise. Sit still with your eyes closed and imagine a conflict you had recently with someone, during which you felt strong anger. Notice how the anger returns to a degree when you re-visit this event in your mind's eye. Now move your hands into the Willing Hands position in your lap. What happens to those feelings of anger? Almost always people feel more accepting and therefore less angry when they move their hands into the Willing Hands position. Did that happen for you today? I encourage you to practice Willing Hands throughout your day - when you first wake up, when you feel irritated or impatient, when you have thoughts about a person who has hurt you. I very much hope that practice of this simple skill will bring you an increased sense of understanding and peace.
AND! I read this too and thought it was a good short piece as well, so I stole it as well for my homework and blog:
HALF-SMILE AND WILLING HANDS – PARENTING WITH DBT: A SERIES ON EFFECTIVE PARENTING STRATEGIES
The Mind-Body Connection: Half-Smile and Willing Hands
Think of a stressful parenting situation you’ve been in lately. . . riding out a tantrum, getting homework done, confronting your teen about a lie. How were you feeling? What were you thinking? Were you aware of any sensations in your body? We often think about how situations and stress impact our bodies. But, research also shows that our bodies can impact our minds and how we can experience events. In other words, the relationship between mind and body goes both ways. As such, we can make use of our bodies to help ourselves feel better in stressful situations. Half-smile and willing hands are two DBT skills that focus on using our bodies to communicate with our brains that we are okay. They can help us regulate our systems, accept situations, and feel better in the moment.
Relax the muscles in your face, from your forehead down to your jaw and chin.
Allow the corners of your mouth to turn up ever so slightly.
Adopt a peaceful facial expression.
Seated: Place your hands on your laps, palms up and fingers relaxed and slightly curved, as if you are receiving.
Standing: Drop your shoulders down. Unclench your hands and turn the palms out, relaxing your fingers.
Lying down: Unclench your hands, turn your palms up, and relax your fingers.
Sam was having a tough time with his two girls, now 13 and 15 years old. He often found himself frustrated with what seemed like frequent complaints and demands. Sam noticed that he felt particularly tense when the girls came home from school and started complaining about teachers, peers, hunger, and fatigue. After learning DBT, Sam decided to use some body acceptance strategies when interacting with his girls after school. As soon as they arrived home, Sam used his half-smile and willing hands skills. It wasn’t drastic, but he did notice a change. Sam found that using his body to manipulate his experience allowed him to feel calmer and less reactive to the girls’ demands. They noticed Sam’s improved energy, and this created a positive feedback loop between them, introducing more peace and ease into the interactions at home.
Stacy Ruse LPC knows:
Worksheet format typed out for future use on this blog perhaps. I have used this format a few times now in my private journal and it suits my needs to access mindful DBT skills. I'm not going to share an example though as it is all too private for my public blog thing but examples have been uploaded to my DBT portal..
Downloadable/printable version at the bottom of this bit of my entry.
Worksheet 4A (p.282 in the print version) in Dr. Linehan's workbook: