Emotional Regulation DBT Problem Solving Problem solving ...... revisited.
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
DBT Stuff I'm turning to this time in my hour of head fucked need ...
I'm was in a really bad place when I started this entry to be honest, not in a brilliant place spiritually/emotionally and mentally and having to deal with relocation issues (I'm moving away) and work/timing dilemmas and covid19 absolute fucking ball aches and two faced game players I let into my head space. So, I'm in a bad and sad place, stressy and aggressive and wanting to lash out ..... but I'm mindful not to go there and I'm mindful not to "catastrophise" any further than I have been and get sucked back into a black hole of depression. The depression has been and is on me heavy and I'm pissed off about it but I must turn it around and that I shall. Only I can.
Only I can.
Therefore, for the time being I've decided to to return to this DBT "problem solving" discussion, resource, technique and practice I covered with my "DBT_ path" group, as I feel it's appropriate for my current head space and set of SNAFU's I am faced with.
I need to remind myself about healthy problem solving skills and getting back into wise mind and positive thinking and avoid some bad choices.
I got a lot out of the problem solving session the first time around I did it with my DBT peeps live online and I put the skills discussed into good practice and have remained mindful of all of the tips, tricks, hacks and skills practices we initially covered. However, feeling quite stressed out and challenged I can feel my skills slipping and I am losing insight of the "barriers" that prevent me from being effective in coping well with my emotional overloads and the skills that I have learned that help me not slip into a shit storm of splitting and sheer anxiety.
Reminder to self:
It is what it fuckin' is. ⬅
What is Radical Acceptance?
Radical Acceptance is accepting what is – exactly as it is.
It is saying yes to reality. It is saying yes to both reality as it is right now and to the reality of the past. No matter how painful or unfair it is. No matter how hurt, angry or ashamed you feel.
Wait, what? I’m supposed to radically accept the unacceptable? Yes.
Radical acceptance does not equal approval
You do not have to like reality, but you do have to accept it because what other choice do you have?
Fighting reality does not change reality; it just increases your emotional suffering.
Part of being human is experiencing pain. There’s no way around this. And it’s true that some people’s lives have more pain in them than others. But while pain is unavoidable, suffering is optional.
Pain + resistance = suffering Pain + radical acceptance = peace
Resistance is putting demands on reality to be different than it is. It is throwing a tantrum, in big and small ways. It’s not effective; it just keeps you in a war with you. Or with the world. And you will not win.
The path out of suffering is to lay down your arms. Imagine how your life would be if you said yes to whatever is happening instead of no, no, no. What would you do? Would you cry, scream, grieve? Strong emotion often comes with radical acceptance. But if you allow yourself to feel that strong emotion, it will eventually move through you.
And when it does, calmness follows and very often, a deep peace. In that place of deep peace, all sorts of transformative things can happen.
You may see possibilities of moving forward that you couldn’t see before. You may forgive yourself.
How would your life be different if you stopped fighting reality?
What do you need to Radically Accept?
Whatever is happening in the present, no matter how uncomfortable it is.
It’s accepting big things like your life not turning out the way you hoped, a chronic illness, or a president in office who scares the living daylights out of you.
It’s also accepting the smaller day to day things like public transportation shutting down, an event you were looking forward to getting cancelled, or being assigned a work project you don’t like.
Everything that has already happened.
Big and small things. The personal and the political. Childhood trauma, accidents, war. All of it.
When working on radically accepting everything that has happened to you and those you love in the past, remember that radical acceptance does not equal approval and has nothing to do with forgiveness.
Remembering this is especially important if you’ve been a victim in some way.
Radically accepting the future is a little tricky. You only need to radically accept realistic limitations on the future.
Every life has limitations, but we often exaggerate those limitations. For example, if you and your partner break up, you need to radically accept the relationship is over. You do not need to radically accept that you will be alone for the rest of your life.
When you are radically accepting, check your wise mind to make sure you are only accepting facts.
I've been sharp as fuck with some people for the past week or so and I've caught myself doing this and I need to address it and the barriers of communication that hinder any progress in my current situation. I'm not going to address any specifics in this blog entry, that's private stuff but I am going to look at how I can address this and what to do next.
I'll start by looking at barriers again and reminding myself about them with some of my own ramblings, reflections, and digressions in this colour :
(resource bits copied from https://dialecticalbehaviortherapy.com/ )
Barriers I): Old Patterns
Your upbringing and past relationships may have influenced the way you communicate today. You may have learned certain habits of communicating that are not assertive, but that lean towards a more aggressive or passive style. Falling into these patterns may be not the most effective way of communicating in every situation and may be standing between you and the results you want.
(yep, fuck yeah, that's what went down amongst other insidious things ⬆⬆)
Among the more aggressive habits of communication are:
1) Discounting the needs of the others. 2) Blaming others for a conflict situation we may have, - I am very mindful of this one at the moment. I have found myself slipping into this angry zone. 3) Belittling others by trying to make them feel stupid or wrong for their point of view. 4) Derailing from the other person's needs and emotions. Taking attention away from the needs and emotions of others and focusing attention only on you needs and emotions. 5) Withdrawing from the communication or making threats. - I have with drawn some what at the moment. 6) Guild tripping others by trying to frame any disagreement as some kind of moral failing on their part. 7) Punishing or threatening to punish others. This might by physical punishment, but it could also include emotional punishments like withdrawing affection.
These types of communications generally create negative emotional consequences and damage interpersonal relationships. (Don't I know it!).
( I am very mindful of not repeating these behaviours ever again. I have been a vile son of a bitch in the past, hands up, guilty. ⬆⬆ )
The most common passive habit of communication is becoming silent or surrendering when there is a conflict because you might fear that you will make the situation worse.
Passive patterns often create a short-term payoff because they end the conflict quickly. But, these types of passive behaviours are usually not very successful long-term strategies, because they don’t communicate what we want, nor do they satisfy our need to be heard.
Think about which one of these old patterns (aggressive or passive) you usually engage in. Try to think about the consequences of these type of behaviour. What usually happens as a result? Next, try to think about whether or not your needs are met at the end of the communication.
(My communication breakdown recently has been aggressive, sharp and blaming. I have let my mindful "wise mind" practices and thinking pattern slip. I am aware and I am challenging that right now as I type this blog entry amongst other things . Although not entirely uncalled for, there have been mitigating circumstances with snakes stirring emotions up but that said, my level of aggression has not been useful. I need to breath step back and "find the pause". It's not easy when you are feeling pushed to the limit.)
Old Pattern : Derailing any discussion of the other person’s needs and emotions and focusing only on my own needs and emotions. Result: At the end of the conversation the other person doesn’t feel heard and we are disconnected from one another. Are my needs met? By engaging in this pattern I am usually (unconsciously) getting some of my needs met by focusing attention on my grievances. But, by not validating their feelings, I am causing them to disconnect from me, and we aren’t getting any long-term resolution.
Barriers II): Identifying Needs
Sometimes, one of the blocks to using the assertiveness skills can be not being able to identify our needs at the moment. You get so wrapped up in the conflict, that you can’t remember how you got there or what you were trying to achieve. If you noticed that you cannot clearly identify what you need during a conversation or a conflict you have, take a little time and try to prioritize your needs.
Example: I am scared that if I tell my friend that I don't like the places she picks, she will get mad. Although history shows that this might actually happen, I feel like I still need to do it. If she gets mad, my plan is to explain to her that it is nothing personal, and that I simply would like, from time to time, to go to places that I enjoy as well.
Barriers III): Negative Predictions
Another barrier to using the assertiveness skills is fear that something might go wrong - we are building all kinds of scenarios in our heads - what if she gets mad, what if our relationship becomes worse, what if, what if...
In this case, first try to evaluate how real and objective your fear is. What is the evidence for and against the scenario that you fear? Last, write down a plan about how you would cope if what you fear actually happens. What would you do? What strategies would you use to tackle the situation better?
Example: I am scared that if I tell my friend that I don't like the places she picks, she will get mad. Although history shows that this might actually happen, I feel like I still need to do it. If she gets mad, my plan is to explain to her that it is nothing personal, and that I simply would like, from time to time, to go to places that I enjoy as well.
(Yes. I feel this. "What if, what if". Building up scenarios in my head, catastrophising, magnifying problems by millions of times over, etc. I have a been in that place this week. Problems stuck in my head, going a round and around and around. Noisy. Hectic. Hellish.
I need to "find the facts", write it all down and then "plan ahead" for whatever might come next, the good or the bad. That's a job for tomorrow. I might blog it, I might not.)
Barriers IV): Overwhelming Emotions
Sometimes when people are raised in families where conflicts happens often and in a more heated way, they can automatically become emotionally overwhelmed when dealing with conflict. One of the potential results can be withdrawing from the situation and being overwhelmed.
(This is me 100%. I had a four large paragraphs to publish here explaining a lot about this and why I have been like I have been throughout life due to trauma and my shame about all the anger I have inflicted on people I love and my resentments and subsequent journey in finding forgiveness and gratitude etc etc. I deleted it all from this entry. To personal for the public version. Giving to much of myself away. Some painful feels and went in to it. Lets just say out of all of my horrid chaos inwardly and outwardly, there is order forming in the shape of positivity and acceptance and determination to be better than I ever have been. No more chaos).
In this case, first try to observe whether you have some of the signs of overwhelming emotions (pounding heart, sweating, feeling hot, tension in your body). Next, try to mindfully breathe for several minutes engaging your diaphragm. Observe how your belly moves up and down as you inhale and exhale. Try to become mindful of whether you feel calmer after doing this short exercise.
Example: Situation: My boyfriend got angry with me, and I had difficulty understanding what he was saying because I withdraw from the situation. Signs of overwhelming emotions: I felt flushed, my heart was beating fast. Mindful breathing and the result: I felt a little more composed after doing the mindful breathing.
(I have been very mindful of this over the past two weeks as I have felt like, at times, wanting to smash someone's skull in, over a some betrayal, with my bare hands, quite literally. Behaviours of old rising to the surface. Lots of stupid testosterone pumping. It's been a strong and stupid urge and I know what damage I can do and I don't want to cause damage to anyone or anything anymore, which is the point. Very unpleasant and unwelcome feelings. These feelings and the anxiety and intrusive thoughts have left me with increased pumping heart rate, adrenalin rush stomach cramp, tight clenched fists and jaws and tense muscles. Horrible. I have been mindful of it in those moments and I have actively engaged in mindful calculated slow breathing and meditative thoughts to bring those physical sensations down and to calm my crazy thoughts back into line and into a less aggressive place. It's been a very close call and so I will remain mindful of this problem but the actual problem on my mind it will dissipate as I work through it and now I must work to remain calm and keep practicing those deep paced breathing skills and the thought diffusion/distraction practices. I don't want to get in trouble and I don't actually want confrontation.)
Barriers V): Toxic Relationships
There are cases where despite our effort to try to "change" the other person, they might regularly engage in behaviours such as belittling us, using aggressive ways of communication like blaming or threatening (or being a sneaky manipulative two faced snake, for example. People like that exist unfortunately. It is what it is.)
In this case, the first step is to try to become more centred, and calmer. If you get centred in your wise mind what would you discover? Usually, you can predict how the perpetrator in a toxic relationship behaves, and you can anticipate their pattern of behaviour. Make a plan of what you would say in an assertive way and follow your plan through. (I am ready and waiting if need be. I am ready to confront this in a non violent but in a necessarily direct way next time, if pushed. However, I don't want to expel any more effort in this particular situation. Bridge burning is called for. To hell those people.)
Example: After I calmed myself down, I reminded myself that my boss usually tries to put the blame on me about any problem that may arise. My strategy is to let him know the objective facts of the situation, and to tell him what type of an atmosphere I need in order to work effectively.
FAQs - some good reminders:
I can observe that I engage in some old patterns, but I criticize myself too much when I think about changing them. It is important to note that the old patterns that you've built in the past are a result from several factors such as parental style of your parents, past relationships and multiple other complex factors. You didn't develop them intentionally and consciously which is why there is no need to blame yourself if you engage in some of the old patterns that we work on. Try to be self-compassionate and practice the assertiveness skills so that you will improve your interpersonal effectiveness.
As I work on the exercises from this module, I get a little overwhelmed because I can see that there are several things that I should work on, and I don't have so much time. The social and interpersonal sphere of our lives is a complex one - there are different aspects that affect each other and there are other people involved as well. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself and set reasonable expectations. For example, you can prioritize that you would like to work on how to deal with a toxic relationship that you have and set aside several weeks so that you can learn and practice how to do that. When you feel like you reached results that you are satisfied with, move on to another skill that you want to practice. Remember not to discredit the effort that you put into practicing the skills.
Is the point of this exercise to become a perfect communicator? Just as with everything else in life, there is no such thing as being perfect at something, that is an abstract and relative term. The point of this exercise is to identify the barriers that are most prominent in your interpersonal effectiveness and work on one of them at a time. Everyone to some extent experiences one or more of the barriers mentioned. The idea behind this exercise is not to pinpoint even the slightest flaws and barriers that you engage in but to focus on gradual growth and practice.
I have noticed that my partner/parent/child exhibits one of these communication barriers. How do I help them? For most of us it easier to see other people’s issues than our own issues. We would encourage you to start by focusing on self-reflection and noticing issues in your own communication first. You will sometimes notice that these communication barriers are part of a dance that you do with other people and that you play a part. For example maybe you communicate aggressively, and they respond aggressively too.
Worksheets to aid this resource are available here to download and I will be using these myself this week but that's private stuff and for a select few eyes in DBT. These practices are well worth engaging in over and over again, repetitively, as that way they help to rewire our faulty neuropathways and the rest of our broken limbic systems, the stuff that fucks with out thinking! ⬇
⬆ That was a resource I felt might help me out a bit to get my head back in the game and it might help anyone who reads my blog that also gets as overwhelmed as I do with life sometimes.
My take out or extraction of my take out, from this little exercise above to put it in blunt terms goes like this:
Totally cut out the toxic idiots and ignore their existence but do not wish them harm. Just move along. Better that way than confrontation and the exchange of negative energy. Move on from their bullshit, move on from my own bullshit and step away from it.
(I've been the toxic person in life too. I know what toxic people are. Never again.)
The other less challenging people I find myself getting sharp with unfairly?
Again, step back, find the pause, come back to it calmer and far more together with the facts mindfully in place, perspective and empathy and cut them some slack. Don't be a cock. Damage limitation. Know that they don't deserve my negativity when stressed out. Honesty yes, anger no. Grow up.
Find the pause.
Check the facts.
I seem to be getting a lot of subscribers lately and feed back from other casual readers about DBT and BPD and mental health. I'm glad my sweary, badly put together blog entries are getting out there and a little bit useful amongst the immense ocean of DBT/BPD material and blogs available on the web.
Shifting to positivity and gratitude.
(Incoherent personal ramblings and reflections)
Counteracting the negative thinking with gratitude.
I have been practicing this very hard and as much as possible and as often as possible and that has been both rewarding and very mind opening in very positive progressive way but it has also at times been very challenging and sometimes counter intuitive after having lived a life with a somewhat very cynical and often negative mindset.
Negative because of the my upbringing and the consequences of my upbringing. Traumatic events and a hectic environment. In a nut shell, just a cluster fuck of negative influences, some of it quite horrid. I have been hardwired to be negative and constantly critical and yes, that has left me very toxic at times.
Don't get me wrong, I like to think I have my own unique hard wiring as well, wiring that is uniquely Mark Cummins and I feel that is hopefully the positive, fun, creative, playful me. The me that has learned positivity from else where in life along the way. It has to be. However, that has been overshadowed far too much by a life of mental illness caused by trauma, negativity and toxicity and that stops now.
I always know deep down that only way to find happiness was to tap into positivity and think more cheerfully and find the good in life as a rule of thumb, far more than I have been capable of for a long time anyway. I just didn't know quite how to do that in terms of finding that default mindset, finding and harnessing that overarching positive outlook in life to guide me. I just didn't have the skills, the know how, the guidance. Fear, anxiety and anger kept that path hidden. I wasn't taught how to look at life with a positive eye to temper all the negative influences. I was taught how to be angry, aggressive and resentful. That was my upbringing and the consequences of that has been, at times, the horror show that followed. Of course I have had lots of fleeting happy moments in life, "in the moment" wonderful times that I am grateful for and lots of intense laughter and fun and moments of utter beauty and joy and love. I've always been philosophical and able to think deep and hard about these things and get the theory down but the practical, actual real happiness and positive contentment has all been very much temporary and fleeting. Nothing hard wired so to speak, never especially long lasting, if that makes sense.
It was always over ridden by the negative, dark, depressive hardwired mindset, always looming up behind me, unwanted but there. The personality disorder. Mental illness. I became an expert at hiding all the sadness and i have been wearing a mask to hide the pain much of my life, even after mental breakdowns. And some unfortunate souls have seen me when that mask slips and it ain't fun.
How I wish I knew what I know now back then, in the very earlier days, that it was a personality "disorder" , a mental "illness" and that I was offered some insight into them.
It's a shame I didn't have the help way back when that I have now with real DBT therapy rather than being fobbed off with half arsed CBT and other, lets say, "not very professional" nonsense. And that's not negative ingratitude, it's just honest.
I am well aware of the positive aspects of my experiences and kind efforts in the past from some good people on my mental health journey. I am preparing a blog entry that concentrates on just that and why I am grateful for my mental health journey, even the really bad bits. It might be a private entry for the few, or it might not, depends.
But that's all rather moot right now! It is what it is.
I am at a point now in my life where I am looking for gratitude and positivity anywhere I can.
Why am I incoherently rambling like this? (I'm no writer, clearly!)
I'm reminding myself of how far I have come and just how grateful I am for, relatively recently, being supported onto this road of positive self discovery and growth through actual real structured DBT and all the mindful spiritual practices that go with it. It's been a revelation to me that I am allowed to think positively about life and more to the point about myself. And I am allowed to tap into positivity and feel grateful rather than resentful and full of self shame and hatred and depression. The self hatred that was beginning to spiral out of control again recently and beginning to become an outwardly focused thing towards other people. Resentments and projections are toxic.
Practicing gratitude through some DBT and spiritual techniques is helping back into a calmer more empathic mindset and taking me way from anger, resentment and other horrible feelings.
Turning these behaviours around through practices of positive gratitude has set my life off on a whole other path of self discovery, confidence and appreciation of life and other peoples needs, outlooks, influences, personal limits and so on. It has readdressed how I deal with other people and curbed my old sometimes very aggressive and violent (when getting ill), cynical, negative and sometimes downright disrespectful behaviours. I know I have been a nightmare at times and potentially still can be but I am mindful of it now.
Training myself through DBT and self discipline has really helped me on my path in trying to be a better person and accept positivity and gratitude into my life in order to help me forgive others, forgive myself, revaluate myself and my life and genuinely begin/continue my journey of healing on many levels, not just from BPD/PTSD but also from a life time of deep regressive depression and challenge all the things go with it like anxiety and paranoid thinking and all of the other head fucks. All of it.
I'm challenging fear with gratitude.
I hope some of this, the way I try to explain myself, makes sense. I'm a poor writer but I try.
*Boring bit over*
Good tune ⬆⬆
The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief
Read this great article. It explains a lot:
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – Proverb
Emotional Problem Solving - emotional regulation.
Some things from the DBT session on problem solving and gratitude:
We got straight into looking at intruding thoughts, paranoid thinking, anxiety and all the emotional dysregulation that comes with it, including physical symptoms.
We discussed what these things actually are, how they manifest and why.
I know about these symptoms all to well in my personal life. I battle with this every day of my life. It is, as the reader of this blog will certainly almost definitely know for themselves, a bit of a bastard.
We engaged in a mindfulness activity to explore these problems and discuss how these things come about and how the chain of events and thoughts tend to play out generally for people with BPD symptoms and how to challenge those intruding nasty thoughts and feelings. Of course for people with BPD and other mental health disorders, these thoughts can be almost/actually psychotic at times and all insights might be out of the window and that may need another approach to challenge them correctly. Been there a few times, hopefully never again.
Slides from DBT _ path Problem Solving session:
The 4 DBT problem-solving options ⬆
Solve the Problem
Change or leave the situation.
Feel Better about the Problem
Regulate the emotions that the problem elicits.
Tolerate the Problem
Accept and tolerate the problem, as well as your response to it.
Don’t make any changes.
Solve the Problem
With any problem situation, you can figure out if there is a way to change the situation, avoid the situation or leave the situation.
Example: Let’s take the problem of feeling lonely and isolated.
You could solve the problem by changing the situation to meet new people and form friendships. You could join social groups or volunteer for a cause where you will interact with others. You could initiate conversations with co-workers or neighbors, or try to re-connect with old friends you lost touch with.
Feel better about the problem
You can decide not to change the actual problematic situation, but to change your emotions in reaction to it.
Example: You could feel better about being lonely by reassuring yourself that being lonely does not mean you are unlikable or unlovable. And by reminding yourself that making new friends isn’t easy.
You could find ways to get more enjoyment out of the time you spend on your own, by making sure you still do things that you want to do even if you’re alone. Like going to see a movie or checking out a new restaurant – even if you do these things by yourself.
Tolerate the problem
If you can’t solve the problem, and you can’t feel better about the problem, you can still ease some of the emotional suffering that the problem brings up.
Example: If you can’t do things to build new friendships or feel better about being alone, you can respond to the problem by accepting and tolerating both the problem and your response to it.
Maybe your work schedule, home responsibilities or a disability means you can’t solve the problem by going out and joining a group to meet new people.
You may not be successful in your attempts to feel better about being alone, despite your use of skills.
But you can reduce your suffering by using the Distress Tolerance skill of Radical Acceptance. Radical acceptance doesn’t equal approval of the situation, but radical acceptance means you stop fighting reality.
No one can avoid pain, but resisting pain creates suffering and suffering is optional.
You could choose to stay miserable. Or, you could also do things that will make the problem even worse.
To choose this option, don’t use any skills!
Solving your problems
So there you have it – the four DBT problem-solving options. Depending on the nature of your problem, you may choose a different option for different situations. Of course, it’s totally up to you. The important thing is that you take the time to think about and acknowledge how you’re dealing with the problem
Vital DBT skills we need to check in with to change the course of wonky thinking and avoid the melt downs ⬆ (something I failed in recently after doing so well for so long but lesson learned)
In my experience:
Always CHECK THE FACTS!
Get into the habit of checking the facts when distressed. Make it second nature.
This is what goes a loooong way to change our perception when suffering and emotionally challenged. This is so important and can save you a whole lot of messy pain. If like myself, your thinking gets skewed and problems magnify and it just all goes around and around and gets noisier and noisier and spirals, really make that effort to check in with this skill to establish what's REALLY going on around you, inside of you and with the actual situation at hand. Find the gap, the pause, take stock, find the facts and you find a more realistic perspective too. Engaging in worksheets or writing or all down in a journal or whatever works for you really makes a big difference or at least in it does in my experience.
Once you have found that place using the checking the facts skills, it's then you can start work on the opposite actions and planning ahead DBT skills. They are all interconnected.
They help to solve problems!
Growth through radical acceptance.
We looked at some of the options we are faced with in trying to solve our thinking problems and the some of the steps we need to take in order to find some healthy trains of thought. We looked at the option of not changing and staying miserable and depressed or stressed out or angry or whatever it might be. It's still an option, a valid choice. We can choose to carry on hiding in bed depressed or raging in anger and smashing holes in doors or cutting ourselves or planning our suicide in deep self shame. That can feel like the only option sometimes and it can certainly be the easiest.
OR, we can go the really difficult route to dig ourselves out of the black hole of despair and find some light and find some relief from the pain and despair and perhaps give those around us some relief from our own outwardly facing pain and anger.
It's only when we choose to reject staying miserable that we begin to learn how to manage that with DBT skills. That is when the growth begins, in the desire for change.
⬆ That's why I am here blogging again, I recognised I have some problems and that I recently reacted badly to a situation and I needed to address that so I get react better next time I'm up against it. I know what type of problem it is and I know what to do in order to draw line under it and move on. No more repetitive behaviour in regards to this particular SNAFU. I fucked up a bit with this one but with mitigating circumstances. Never again. I keep learning.
(and then you die, but hey......)
Slides from a mindfulness activity:
I won't analyse this particular activity on this blog entry to deeply because it was a participatory thing but it certainly did address those horrible, paranoid, and for me personally, self shaming stuck thoughts and negative patterns of thinking that just go around and around and around and around in your head and grow in intensity and size and speed and noise. If you cant get to those thoughts in time to find a pause and apply some "wise mind" rational thinking to them, the overwhelming sensations both mentally and physically can be, to throw in a pun, insane ⬇
So, these things need to be addressed but where do we turn to in the moment to deal with the situation at hand, right in the moment?
Here is a good start:
Defusion, Acceptance, Willingness, Values.
Engage in a thought defusion activity to break and/or slow your stuck and/or racing thoughts down. Cut your self some slack.
Accept, in fact, radically accept your situation, as hard as that can be. It is what it is. Right here, right now, it is what it is and I cant change that, thinking. Facing up to reality can really sober your thinking up.
Be willing to change it up, change your thinking and engage in compassion as much as you can in the circumstance and most in circumstances we can find compassion for others and ourselves.
Check in your own personal values and remind yourself about what you stand for and what you don't. Check in with the real you. Remember to extend yourself that self compassion while you are at it.
Cognitive Fusion and Defusion
Stolen from https://www.guelphtherapist.ca/blog/cognitive-fusion-defusion/ . I found this helpful (with more links):
In a previous post we looked at some ways to practice letting go of thoughts, but it can often be difficult to let of thoughts because they have such a powerful pull, especially when the thoughts are related to a strong emotion. In my post, What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?, we learned why acceptance is so important in ACT. Cognitive diffusion is a way of accepting our thoughts, allowing them to pass into and out of our minds, without getting stuck in our heads.
Steven Hayes, who developed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), coined the term “cognitive fusion” to describe times when we are so tightly stuck to our thoughts, we become “fused” to them. When we’re experiencing cognitive fusion, we can’t separate ourselves from our thoughts. Our thoughts become our reality. We feel removed from the world outside of our thoughts, removed from our senses, from what we’re doing, and even from the people around us.
The opposite of “cognitive fusion” is “cognitive diffusion.” Cognitive defusion involves taking a step back from what’s going on in our minds, and detaching a little from our thoughts. In this state of diffusion, we can observe our thoughts and other internal processes without getting lost in them, stuck in them or fused with them. We can simply notice our thoughts, watch them, accept them and let them go if we choose to.
A concept from mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) that can help us defuse from our thoughts is the idea that thoughts are not facts: Just because you think something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. When we’re in a state of cognitive fusion, our thoughts have a tendency to become our reality. The notion that thoughts are just thoughts—just mental events—rather than facts can help us achieve cognitive defusion, and simply saying to ourselves, “Perhaps I’m confusing a thought with a fact,” can help you defuse from that thought.
Another way to help get past the belief that, just because you’re thinking something it must be true, is to label your thoughts as thoughts. For example, if you’re thinking “there’s no way I’ll be able to cope,” rather than accepting that thought as a fact, say to yourself, “I’m having the thought that there’s no way I’ll be able to cope.”
Instead of thinking, “I’m never going to be happy,” say to yourself, “I’m having the thought that I’m never going to be happy.”
Instead of thinking “I’m never going to be able to get all that work done,” say to yourself, “I’m having the thought that I’m never going to be able to get all that work done.”
Instead of thinking, “I’m going to embarrass myself at that meeting/social event,” say to yourself, “I’m having the thought that I’m going to embarrass myself at that meeting/social event.”
This process of labelling your thoughts as just thoughts allows you to step back and defuse yourself from the content of your thoughts.
A similar strategy is to give a name to a persistent thought or type of thought you’re having, simply labelling it as “worrying,” or “planning,” or “obsessing.” This takes you a step further back from your thoughts than labelling them as thoughts. Adding the word “just” in front of the label can make it seem less threatening or overwhelming, for example, labelling your thoughts as “just worrying” or “just planning,” or “just obsessing.”
When you label a thought in the form “I am having the thought that I have too much work to ever get it all done,” you are still describing the content of the thought (“I have too much work to ever get it all done”), and by paying attention to the content, you are still engaging the thought on some level.
By giving a more general description to the thought, such as “worrying,” or “planning,” or “regretting,” or “criticizing myself,” you are no longer labelling the content of the thought, but just the type of thought you’re having. This removes you one step further from the actual thought as you’re not longer paying attention its content at all, giving you more distance, and helping you defuse from it.
Below is another exercise from The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook by Sheri Van Dijk that incorporates the strategy of labelling your thoughts into an exercise similar to the ones we looked at in the post on letting go of your thoughts.
In your mind’s eye, visualize yourself standing in a forest, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. As you stand there, you see leaves start to fall from the trees. Whenever a thought enters your mind, imagine that it rests on a leaf that’s drifting down. As you watch each leaf fall and as the thought becomes visible, see if you can pick up the leaf and place it in a pile according to what the thought is about. For example, when the thought “I’m not having any thoughts” drifts down on its leaf you might put this in the “worry thought” or “observing thought” pile. When the thought “This is a stupid exercise” appears on its leaf you might label it and put it in the “anger thought” or “judgment thought” pile, and so on.
Letting go of thoughts can be difficult, but the exercises in this post and the post on letting go of thoughts will help you get some relief when you’re in a state of cognitive fusion, and allow you to slow down your mind and defuse from your thoughts. With practice, you’ll be able to step back from your thoughts, get some distance, and eventually to be able to simply let go of your thoughts if you so choose.
I found this a useful skills reminder so i thought I may as well share it ⬆
Some more ripped off stuff (cited, of course) and edited stuff cobbled together with some of my own thoughts:
Overcoming Overwhelming Emotions With DBT
Some of us are hard wired with a propensity to experience intense and often overwhelming emotions. Many people develop the propensity through trauma or neglect at childhood. Such overwhelming pain can be overcome. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy teaches critical skills that can reduce the size of these emotional waves that often overwhelm us. And the description "waves" I think is good one at at least that's how I experience these overwhelming emotions. They roll in, they roll out, they roll in, they roll out ..... Fucking pain the backside.
What is DBT if you are not already familiar?
It was developed by psychologist researcher Marsha Lineham at the University of Washington in the nineties. It combines traditional cognitive-behavioural techniques with mindful awareness techniques derived largely from Buddhist mediation practice. We can’t really control the suffering in our lives, but we can control our response and tolerance – DBT provides the tools to help us do so. My blog won't tell you nearly even close to enough about DBT, just google it and learn from some professionals. Google Marsha Linehan for a start.
More DBT tools about defusion that I have stolen from the internet thing. I'm really reminding myself about this stuff ⬇ :
Thought Defusion -
DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK!
Defusion involves distancing, disconnecting or seeing thoughts and feelings for what they are (streams of words, passing sensations), not what they say they are (dangers or facts). STOP, STEP BACK, OBSERVE (the thoughts and feelings, what's happening to/for the other person). Notice what's happening - your thoughts, physical sensations, emotions, images, memories. Notice the way you're interpreting what they mean, and how that's affecting you.
Notice the unhelpful thoughts. It can help to say them differently, in a non-threatening way: slowly, in a squeaky or funny ass comic voice or write them down. Identify the emotion you're feeling, and label the unhelpful thoughts
an evaluation or judgement
a feeling or sensation
an unhelpful thinking habit: mind-reading (assuming we know what others are thinking), negative filter (only noticing the bad stuff), emotional reasoning (I feel bad so it must be bad), catastrophising (imagining the worst), the internal critic etc.
Learn more and practice mindfulness so that you can be aware of when you are in the present moment rather than being 'in your head' - perhaps thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
Notice what you don't normally notice - sights, sounds, sensations, thoughts, textures etc.
Mindfulness for busy moments
Notice, right now, your focus of attention
Observe and say to yourself (and notice) whatever you are doing, e.g.
I am breathing
I am sitting
I am looking
I am listening
I am walking
Wise Mind: Where shall I focus my attention now?
This exercise helps to develop a mindful awareness of the environment, of the body, of the breath, and of thoughts and emotions. You can practice the exercise as a whole, or in parts, using any part of the exercise.
The Environment As you are walking, or just sitting quietly somewhere, start to notice things as though you were a visitor to this place. As you look around you, notice sights, sounds and smells as though you had never seen, heard or smelled them before.
You can imagine you are a visitor from another area or culture, or from a different species, even an alien visitor. You might ask yourself to try and identify this place just by what you see, hear and smell. What clues are there to where you are? See or hear things as if for the first time, from a completely different perspective. Spend a little time just looking and listening and noticing.
The Body When 'Dr Who' regenerates into his new body, he immediately checks out his new body. As a newcomer, new awareness or a visitor, start to imagine being in your body for the first time. Notice what that feels like: what bodily sensations do you notice? How does it feel to move around, stretching those muscles, standing up or sitting down. What do those hands feel like as you move them about, stretching and wiggling those fingers, clenching those fists?
As you start to walk, how is that? What do you notice about your legs, your upper legs, feet and toes? Move your head around and notice what you neck and shoulders feel like. Bend, stretch and move about. What are those physical sensations? Spend a little time just noticing those bodily sensations, and imagine taking your body for its first ever walk, or any everyday activity.
The Breath What would you, as a new awareness or visitor to this new body, notice about the sensations of breathing, as you breathe in, then out? Notice the sensations in the abdomen, the chest, the throat, the mouth and nose. You can notice how your attention wanders, as thoughts come in, sometimes crowding in, and your attention can follow those thoughts.
Just notice as your attention wanders, then gently bring your focus back to your breath. Minds do wander, thoughts will come and thoughts will go, that is the nature of the human mind. As a visitor, you can stand back, notice those thoughts, feelings, sounds and sensations, and keep bringing your attention back to your breath.
Thoughts and Emotions Then you can start to notice, as a visitor, the thoughts and images, feelings and emotions that come and go, in this your new body and mind. Imagine that you are brand new to this body and mind, and there are no expectations for you to react to any thought, image or emotion.
You can just notice them, and not respond. As a visitor, you can notice that they are just words and images, sensations, and feelings. Merely notice them as you would as an alien visitor to this body and mind. Words and images, sensations and feelings: they come, and they go, and that is okay, because that is just what the human mind does.
What is Mindfulness?
by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness is an ancient Buddhist practice which is very relevant for life today. Mindfulness is a very simple concept. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. This increases awareness, clarity and acceptance of our present-moment reality. Mindfulness does not conflict with any beliefs or tradition, religious, cultural or scientific. It is simply a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells - anything we might not normally notice. The actual skills might be simple, but because it is so different to how our minds normally behave, it takes a lot of practice.
Animals and young children are very good at being mindful, in this present moment. I might go out into the garden and as I look around, I think "that grass really needs cutting, and that vegetable patch looks very untidy". Children on the other hand, will notice the ants or other crawlies.
Mindfulness can simply be noticing what we don't normally notice, because our heads are too busy in the future or in the past - thinking about what we need to do, or going over what we have done.
Being mindful helps us to train our attention. Our minds wander about 50% of the time, but every time we practise being mindful, we are exercising our attention "muscle" and becoming mentally fitter. We can take more control over our focus of attention, and choose what we focus on...rather than passively allowing our attention to be dominated by that which distresses us and takes us away from the present moment. Mindfulness might simply be described as choosing and learning to control our focus of attention, and being open, curious and flexible.
In a car, we can sometimes drive for miles on automatic pilot, without really being aware of what we are doing. In the same way, we may not be really present, moment-by-moment, for much of our lives: We can often be miles away without knowing it. On automatic pilot, we are more likely to have our `buttons pressed`: Events around us and thoughts, feelings and sensations in the mind (of which we may be only dimly aware) can trigger old habits of thinking that are often unhelpful and may lead to worsening mood.
By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we do not have to go into the same old `mental ruts` that may have caused problems in the past. We can't be "mindful" all the time. Dogs and young children are naturally much better at it than we are! Research tells us that our minds wander at least 50% of the time. It's ok for minds to wander, but it is helpful to be able to notice e.g. when the mind wanders onto things that aren't so helpful, and then to choose our focus, even for a short time. Mindful Activity
When I washed the dishes each evening, I tended to be "in my head" as I was doing it, thinking about what I had to do, what I did earlier in the day, worrying about future events, or regretful thoughts about the past. I heard my young daughter say "Listen to those bubbles Mummy. They're fun!" She reminded me often to be more mindful. Washing up has become a routine (practice of) mindful activity for me. I notice the temperature of the water and how it feels on my skin, the texture of the bubbles on my skin, and yes, I can hear the bubbles as they softly pop continually. The sounds of the water as I take out and put dishes into the water. The smoothness of the plates, and the texture of the sponge. Just noticing what I might not normally notice. A mindful walk brings new pleasures. Walking is something most of us do at some time during the day. We can practice, even if only for a couple of minutes at a time, mindful walking. Rather than be "in our heads", we can look around and notice what we see, hear, sense. We might notice the sensations in our own body just through the act of walking. Noticing the sensations and movement of our feet, legs, arms, head and body as we take each step. Noticing our breathing. Thoughts will continuously intrude, but we can just notice them, and then bring our attention back to our walking. The more we practice, perhaps the more, initially at least, we will notice those thoughts intruding, and that's ok. The only aim of mindful activity is to continually bring our attention back to the activity, noticing those sensations, from outside and within us.
There's a multitude of resources at the link above ⬆ where I stole that lot above from. Check it out and use it. They make far more sense than I do!
It's hard work though sometimes
The mental messy noise that our minds love to cling onto, sadly, are often distressing painful thoughts and/or judgments about ourselves and others – anger, fear etc.
Thought diffusion allows us to choose the thoughts we want to experience instead of getting stuck on unwanted intruding thoughts that often lead to overwhelming emotions and subsequent melt downs.
We need to get to those thoughts and turn them around, using mindfulness practices such as for example:
In one technique, you can imagine your thoughts as leaves passing down a stream, as clouds passing across the sky, or as passing billboards as you drive along a road. This technique can be used in meditation practice to diffuse any judgments and emotions that arise in the moment. I employed this technique just this week to turn around some very dark thoughts. I used trees to help me focus my thinking. With practice, theses exercise actually work and help (they certainly help me) slowly calm that train of negative thought down and eventually, sometimes, turn it around entirely. It takes practice and willingness and eventually mindfulness techniques just kick in and work without to much forced effort.
I'm happy I found these practices and skills to help me slow down.
"Judgement is the royal road to suffering"
How true is that?! ⬆
Back to problem solving:
These are slides from further problem solving skills discussion during the live DBT session. This has already been covered above somewhere but it pays off to keep practicing these skills and have them ready in the back of your mind ready to turn to and use. Here they are as another DBT example:
I've been using these skills a lot since I first started this blog entry when I was feeling far more challenged than I am now in regards to certain things/people. Using these exact skills hand in hand with fact finding and opposite actions skills, I have arrived at an all together calmer, healthier place withy my shit far more locked down.
It took me a while to post this blog entry as I really have had a bad couple of weeks. Annoyingly I let other people get under my skin and influence my thinking. That won't happen again. No chance. DBT helped get me to a place without getting in trouble and without lapsing into a really long drawn out depression. I am still learning.
When in a working environment, these are the formal problem solving steps I would normally take as rule of thumb:
Identify the issues. Be clear about what the problem is. ...
Understand everyone's interests. ...
List the possible solutions (options) ...
Evaluate the options. ...
Select an option or options. ...
Document the agreement(s). ...
Agree on contingencies, monitoring, and evaluation.
Boring me me me shite. Ignore. This is just here as an example of DBT exercises and homework and to keep myself held accountable yo! :
Problems, Values and Solutions and ...... yeah, its all linked.
(meh, shit happens I guess....)
(edited) Notes from submitted DBT homework as an example of some of the shit you need to fill out and some of the things you need to take real notice of and address:
ACT problem behaviour work
Commitment is about maintaining motivation to the continuing pursuit of my goals over time. Drawing on goal-setting theory, therefore, it helps to have clear, concrete objectives for positive ‘approach’ goals
Problem behaviors to take note of: Some actions that I have engaged in which are harmful over time— bullshit things that:
Saps your energy, time, or finances - my recent bout of angry negative thinking was a waste of time and effort. Noted. I need to be mindful not to re-engage with the source(s) of that problem.
Do not invite toxic people back into my life! I don't need to taste their poison.
(I have enough of my own to deal with)
Toxic people prevent you from moving forward in life - the time wasting spent on the worry and the potential consequences of my angry "planning" and intentions was negative and I need to keep steering myself away from these situations . Non of it is worth it. Total waste of fucking time. Step away.
The are all the type things Keep you from things you’d rather be doing.
It all has a detrimental impact health-wise both mentally and physically.
Reminders to keep on the right path.....
Reinforcing your values.
Remind my self of the values that matter personally to me in the long run. What are my character strengths and qualities That I would like to build on? What things do I (or do I want to) represent/stand for? In what ways do I hope to further myself by tackling my problems? What are some ways I would like to enhance or boost my relationships?
This I suppose in a nutshell:
Empathy - I'd rather tap into empathy rather than anger and this is what I need to mindfully practice more and get the "theory" in to working practice in real everyday life. Dump the anger for empathy. Up until about 2 or 3 weeks ago I was doing well with it. I'll get this back on track and move on from negative manipulating influences.
Commons sense - I feel I have this in spades but not when my amygdala goes offline and I'm having a BPD meltdown. I will work on staying in the common sense zone through mindfulness. Common sense sees me in good stead, especially at work and in dangerous risky situations. Commons sense, a strong set of commons sense skills is a strength that people underestimate in its importance.
Growing to be better - progress - I am working hard to keep the monster in me locked up but happy and content and quiet and cared for and acknowledged. Despite my recent blip that I have documented in this blog entry, I am doing well with the angry monster inside. Maybe one day the angry monster won't be very scary at all, even when triggered. This is the goal.