• IdiotTheWise

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?

The Present

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.

The Past

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.

The Future

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 ⬆⬆)

Aggressive Patterns

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. ⬆⬆ )

Passive Patterns

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.

  • Plana ahead.

  • Be effective.

Side note:

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.

Stay Miserable

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.

Stay Miserable:

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:


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 i