• IdiotTheWise

L3, U4, S36 Skillful Distraction & Problem Solving Notes and Stuff.

Skillful Distraction & Problem Solving

This is going over old ground as far as learning new DBT skills is concerned I need to. Practice, practice, practice, choose the right skill technique practices that work for me and fine tune them and practice more. I'm at that fine tuning place.

A mixture of sensible notes and more swear words:


Wise Mind A C C E P T S

There are four groups of crisis survival strategies: Distraction, Self-Soothing, Improving the Moment, Pros and Cons. All of these are strategies that help us to get though difficult feelings and situations, to tolerate (deal with, get through, sit with, accept) the things that we can't immediately change. This is one of the keys to DBT skill usage, to find some of these skills and techniques that work for you, to practice them until they are part of your everyday life and you can call them up whenever you need them.

The first of the four distracting skills is ACCEPTS. This is an acronym to help you remember "Wise Mind A C C E P T S" Distract with Activities: Do hobbies, watch a video, go for a walk, play a sport, cook, garden, go fishing, go shopping.  What other activities can you think of that you can get involved in and distract yourself from your distress? Make a list of your activities and put it up on your refrigerator, so you can find it in a hurry. Distract with Contributing: Contribute. Do volunteer work. Babysit so a friend can go out. Do something nice or surprising for someone. What have you done this week to contribute? What can you do next week to contribute? Plan something in advance. This takes you away from your pain and puts your attention on your concern for someone else. Distract with Comparisons: Compare yourself to people coping the same as or less well than you. If you are doing better than you were a year or two or five years ago, make that comparison. The manual suggests that you compare yourself to others' suffering, watch weepy soap operas, read about disasters. Some people find this helpful, others don't. Just do what works for you. What do you think about comparisons? Distract with opposite Emotions Read emotional books, go to emotional movies, listen to emotional music. For this to work, you need to read or watch or listen to things that have an emotion opposite to one you are feeling. If you are sad, watch a comedy. Watch a scary movie. Listen to silly music. I think that the reason this works is that it kind of jars your feelings loose.  If you are sad or angry, watch a silly or funny movie, and bust up laughing, you have changed your emotion and put yourself in a different place. Distract by Pushing Away a distressing situation by leaving it mentally for awhile. Build an imaginary wall between yourself and the situation.  Imagine yourself pushing it away with all your strength. Block the situation in your mind. Each time it comes up, tell it to go away, or put some other thoughts in its place, perhaps some more pleasant thoughts. Refuse to think about it. Try putting the pain on a shelf, or in a box, to contain it and get it out of the way. I use the technique of putting my distress in a locked box on a shelf in a closet. I can get it later, but right now I can let it go. All of these are techniques to give you a break from dealing with the pain all the time. They haven't resolved the painful situation, but they have put it away for awhile so that you get a break and a chance to live some part of your life without it. Distract with other Thoughts Some examples are counting to 10 or counting the tiles in a floor or the panes in a window or the stars in the sky, anything to keep your focus on the counting.  This is a good one to use in a sudden emergency, when you need to pull something out of your bag of tricks really quickly. Other ways of distracting with thoughts are reading, watching videos or movies, doing crossword puzzles or jigsaw puzzles, writing poetry, if you can keep your thoughts away from your pain. Can you think of some other ways of distracting with thoughts? Distract with other Sensations. You might hold ice in your hand or apply it to the back of your neck (I used to use a bag of frozen peas against the back of my neck - the sensation was kind of shocking, and it shook me out of my tangled up distressing feelings), put a rubber band on your wrist and snap it, listen to loud music, take a hot, hard shower, a cold, hard shower, or swim in very cold water. Any strong physical stimulus like this can kind of jog loose your connection to your pain and distract you from it. After you try one of these activities, you may want to go on to another distracting activities, such as one of the activities described in the last lesson.


The next time you feel like getting angry, stop and take 3 deep breaths, then count to 10 Try some of the alternate rebellion ideas on this website linked here. Create your own holodeck in your mind - like in Star Trek. In your private holodeck, create experiences that you would like to have happen in your life, like having a pleasant conversation with your child or spouse or being in nature and feeling peaceful. Imagine the things you want to happen in your life in the long term, like being in a peaceful committed relationship or publishing your own book. 🖖 Create your own movie theater in your mind. Replay scenes from the day. Talk to the actor that is you and give her advice about the situation she is in as if it really was an actor.

I have log sheets to help me record and monitor the above and track my progress ⬆⬆⬆⬆

I need to re engage with this approach more often in my journal ⬆⬆⬆ . Almost get back to basics I guess. the basic approach really works well for the everyday head head fuckery things.

There are certainly some noisy head things I need journal and straighten out a bit and slow down in head my right now so that's a tomorrow priority task. 🔴

Download PDF • 44KB

Downloadable distraction problem solving sheets PDF ⬆⬆


I'm pretty good at this over the past two years to be fair. I rarely suffer boredom (in my own company) because my mind is active and curious so distraction comes fairly easily when not to stressed out or ill. problem is when I am becoming particularly stressed out which only happens to be fair when I'm becoming a bit fragile or I've become properly ill. It's all hand in hand. It's when i'm at that getting fragile bit that I need to be mindful of using distraction techniques to ensure I don't go into the black zone where my mind gets "locked" on a continuous cycle drive of intruding thoughts (and psychotic thoughts that have been voices from time to time), negative thinking, paranoia, anger and so on. A grim head space. Distraction, healthy distraction is a vital tool to steer my mind away from that place into a "distracted" far more more rational place. Maybe not a happy place altogether but a place where I'm not harming myself or other people.

I've done well with this. I will keep fine tuning these distraction skills. The ability to slow myself down essentially and not loose my shit.

We discussed the helping others thing. A thing that I do from time to time anyway and a thing I have been doing more of recently what with the virus SNAFU. I have also learned when to say "NO" to people asking for help but that's a different blog entry for another time.

My thing recently just for the record sake is fixing up bikes for a local church and the bikes go to skint families for free. It's been a big thing in this virus lock down reality and actually genuinely helped people out. I'm no church goer but it was a delight to help out and it helped me distract myself from having more time on my hands what with limited social contact etc etc.

It's been difficult. So the bike things helped. I am grateful for that.

A discussion about perspective re slide above. When in times of gloom and doom and the black dog is not far away we discussed how gaining some perspective back into out thinking can distract our negative thoughts and redirect them into a more grateful place and hopefully therefore a more positive place. Very obvious and some find discussing this patronizing but in my opinion in most certainly is not and to remind each other and ourselves of such simple things is important. We all get into that place where it's woe is me and we feel a bit sorry for ourselves and so we all need to remind ourselves of the obvious things. Especially us mentals who get stuck into one psychological gear from time to time. We gotta snap that gear out of its cog and take it up a gear, so to speak. higher vibrations baby!

#gratitude is a wonder drug.

⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆⬆💯 Obvious but so true. And I know what it's like to have NO hope left. I am cling to hope these days. Never loose hope.

i don't need this below! I have a plethora of interests and ideas but it does list masturbation. Bingo! ⬇⬇⬇⬇

I do lots of this kind of stuff ⬇⬇⬇⬇ Art and craft is mediation for me. A huge mahooosive help in my healing and recovery process. Probably the main therapeutic element in my life along with nature and exercise hand in hand with that. great healthy distraction tools.

Self-Soothing Distraction Techniques:

Some of us may recognize these techniques as things that we already use. But many of us have never learned how to self-soothe, how to do those often simple things that makes us feel better. These are mostly very physical techniques, that use different body senses. Some of us have never had the feeling that we could do things to make ourselves feel better, calmer, feel relaxation or pleasure. I urge you to experiment with these techniques until you find some that are comfortable and helpful for you. And when you find these, practice them. Use them when you are feeling distressed, when emotions feel overwhelming, when situations feel like you can't stand them any more. Instead of doing something that hurts you, try something that gives you pleasure and comfort, SELF-SOOTHING has to do with comforting, nurturing and being kind to yourself. One way to think of this is to think of ways of soothing each of your five senses:

  • Vision

  • Hearing

  • Smell

  • Taste

  • Touch

VISION: Walk in a pretty part of town. Look at the nature around you. Go to a museum with beautiful art. Buy a flower and put it where you can see it. Sit in a garden. Watch the snowflakes decorate the trees during a snowfall. Light a candle and watch the flame. Look at a book with beautiful scenery or beautiful art. Watch a travel movie or video. HEARING: Listen to beautiful or soothing music, or to tapes of the ocean or other sounds of nature.  Listen to a baby gurgling or a small animal. Sit by a waterfall. Listen to someone chopping wood.  When you are listening, be mindful, letting the sounds come and go. SMELL: Smell breakfast being cooked at home or in a restaurant. Notice all the different smells around you. Walk in a garden or in the woods, maybe just after a rain, and breathe in the smells of nature. Light a scented candle or incense. Bake some bread or a cake, and take in all the smells. TASTE: Have a special treat, and eat it slowly, savoring each bite. Cook a favorite meal. Drink a soothing drink like herbal tea or hot chocolate. Let the taste run over your tongue and slowly down your throat. Go to a potluck, and eat a little bit of each dish, mindfully tasting each new thing. TOUCH: Take a bubble bath. Pet your dog or cat or cuddle a baby. Put on a silk shirt shirt or blouse, and feel its softness and smoothness. Sink into a really comfortable bed.  Float or swim in a pool, and feel the water caress your body.


Many of us may feel like we don't deserve these comforts, and may find it hard to give pleasure to ourselves in this way. Do you have these feelings? Some of may also expect this soothing to come from other people, or not want to do it for ourselves. Have you experienced this feeling? You may feel guilty about pleasuring yourself in this way. It may take some practice to allow yourself to experience these pleasures. These are really simple human pleasures that everyone has a right to, and that will give us some good tools to use when we are feeling bad.


Try at least one of these self-soothing exercises this week. You may want to choose a whole group of things, say all the visual things, or you may want to choose a single thing to try. As you do what you have chosen, do it mindfully.  Breathe gently, and try to be fully in the experience, whether it is walking in the woods or watching a flower or taking a bubble bath or smelling some fresh-baked bread. As you begin to overcome your feelings that perhaps you do not deserve this, or guilt, and start to enjoy one or more of these activities, you will be learning very useful tools to help you deal with negative feelings and difficult situations.


Stolen from Debbie.

(Cheers Debbie :) )

Early on in my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and until I really got into the skills of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), I had a pattern of quickly jumping from an impulse, thought, or emotion to an action. 

I felt anxious, so I would run or freak out.  I felt angry, so I would yell, throw something, or drive recklessly. I felt depressed or anxious, so I would self-sabotage or self-harm in some way.

As a result of this unfortunate lack of mindfulness and no resources or tools learned to cope, I had an automatic response of reacting.  I have experienced a lot of regret and suffered a lot of consequences (in relationships, in my career, and my health) because of this pattern.

Because I would experience major dysregulation of my emotions, in an attempt to feel better quickly,  I would take actions that made me feel better in the moment but that would shortly thereafter (and sometimes for the longer term) make my circumstances and overall feelings worse.

One skill that helped very early on with this issue is the DBT skill of holding an ice cube.  It may sound silly or very simple, but once you try it and find that it works, you may think there really is something to these DBT skills.

I was first introduced to this skill in therapy. Our group therapist brought ice cubes into the room and asked each of us to hold one as long as we could.  We were asked to just notice and observe the sensations and thoughts we had as we held it, to hold it as long as we could tolerate it, and we discussed the experience afterward. 

Everyone, of course, had a different experience, but most everyone agreed that the ice cube provided an excellent distraction and that the intense physical sensations drew all of their attention.

This was my experience as well.  Over the course of the week from that class to my next, I had several episodes of intense emotions, and during one of them, I decided to hold an ice cube over the sink. It helped! It created an intense physical sensation without causing any self-harm, and all of my attention was focused on it.

I held the ice as long as I could. It melted quite a bit into the sink before I let the rest of it go.  Holding the ice cube allowed me to put time and space between the initial intensity of my emotions/thoughts and any action I took as a result. It was an ice cube intervention, and it worked. 

If only some one could have told me about these skills years and years ago when in care or psyche hospital or Leven House but no! NO! How did they fail to teach me these simple skills? How? I don't get it. May have helped me out a whole fucking lot. Never going to understand that. Utter failure. Ho hum 🤷‍♀️.

Anyway that an over view of this weeks sesh and what i'm going back over. Time to get back to the nuts and bolts of journaling and keeping a regular gratitude diary again up to date!

That's me. I'me of for a distracting wank. Over and out :)


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