w12/U3/s33 - Module recap, graduation, bits and bobs and impulsive disclosure and boundaries.
Updated: Apr 24, 2020
Made it. Nice. 33 sessions in and I graduate to the next level. I am "next level" muffa fuckas!
Off the bat, mindfulness stuff, an exercise and a look at spirituality hand in hand with DBT.
Kathryn C. Holt M.A., LCSW, PhD
First off, a chat bout spirituality and DBT and how DBT is rooted in spiritual teachings, nor religious but spiritual.
The discussion was billed as "ultimate reality" so you can see where this was heading, which is great, right up my street.
A point of discussion resource:
DBT and Spirituality
One of the most devastating aspects suffered by clients with Borderline Personality Disorder is the chronic feeling of emptiness. At the Meehl Foundation, we address this in three seemingly separate yet ultimately connected topics: DBT and spirituality; beliefs and cognitive distortions; and medication. As a student of spirituality, I have studied many religions. As a teacher of DBT, I see the dialectics evident in all religions. Monotheistic religions teach that there is one god, and that the path to salvation is to find that god. However, it is not the case that that God has left us, but that the divine is already within us. And it is by combining DBT and spirituality that we can redress irrational beliefs and cognitive distortions to the contrary. Because there is no purely chemical solution to a spiritual problem. There is a problem when people speak glibly and naively about religious beliefs. Every religion has its own language, procedures, and policies. As you read this essay, try to find the kernel of truth (DBT skill) that best works for you. In The Pathway to Spirituality, Bill O’Hanlon speaks of spirituality in terms of emptiness: “When people seek therapy, they are often feeling isolated, disconnected, and disempowered in at least one area of their lives. Spirituality, in this definition, begins with the opposite of this experience. It is a movement toward feeling connected to something bigger within or beyond oneself that can evoke feelings of competence or okayness.” (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006) Similarly, Richard Rohr states “…you and I begin with a divine DNA, and inner destiny, as it were, an absolute core that knows the truth about you….your soul is who you are in God and who God is in you. You can never lose your soul; you can only fail to realize it.” Many of my clients have been beaten with religion by well-meaning people who think they are helping them. It is impossible to spend all day feeling guilty about sin and also feel the light of the divine. We humans tend to focus on pain, death, suffering, and misery, not realizing that such negative thinking keeps us from finding the joy in our hearts. We latch onto our victimhood, blaming, and the need to be right. The answer to this is the (DBT skill) of mindfulness. To be effectively mindful( DBT Skill), we must stay in the moment and let go of vengeance, useless anger, and righteousness that hurts us and does not work. When I am observant of my thinking (another DBT skill), I can decide if it is my ego speaking or my core of goodness. While my ego may protect me as I go through life, it is concerned more with success, status, and fortune. My higher self–my soul–is revealed when my ego steps out of the way and allows the divine to speak through me. When I fully participate (DBT skill) and stop worrying about myself (how I look, whether people like me, what they think of me), my anxiety leaves so I can be fully present in the moment allowing me to fully participate (DBT Skill) in life People with BPD are often devastated by guilt and shame. They cannot see themselves as separate from their behaviors or beliefs. What they have not been taught is that all behaviors are the product of cognitions and beliefs. Who you believe yourself to be shapes your behaviors. Mistakenly believing “I am bad” goes hand in hand with “bad” behaviors. Realizing and observing (DBT skill) that who you are is separate from your behaviors is the first conscious step toward change. Crisis generating behaviors common with BPD often do not work and lead to feelings of failure. For the BPD client, this is disastrous as they often possess both the irrational belief that they must please everyone and a deep terror of abandonment. These irrational beliefs lead to devastating depression and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Combining DBT and spirituality helps combat such beliefs by allowing the client to improve each moment (DBT skill) with imagery, prayer, meaning, relaxation, and encouragment (skills). Targeting both irrational beliefs and their biochemical causes is a two-pronged approach to successfully change both cognitions and behaviors. Medication works with the limbic system (the emotional “core” of the brain) where these “feelings” originate from. Many clinical studies have successfully shown that depression remitted much faster when clients are treated with both DBT and medication, rather than when treated with medication alone. For more updates on research, please visit
Belief coupled with intense emotion creates an illusory reality that can be very convincing. Emotions magnify and reinforce our beliefs because we can physically feel them. Changing my beliefs of who I am may seem to be a daunting task, but each step toward my true self changes those beliefs as a whole. Recognizing your worth as a divine child of God with behaviors that can be changed is the first step in exclaiming, My behaviors are not me! They are my BPD. In this way, the Meehl Foundation augments this process by combining DBT and spirituality to support the client from a truly holistic standpoint.
Further great reading here:
... and this book which I have been asked to read that draws on this theme here in PDF format that is free but I need old sKoOl paper pages so I have order the book.
We looked at:
The four core components of DBT and how and where spirituality interweaves with the science.
The 4 Stages and Targets of DBT
There are 4 stages of treatment in DBT, defined by the severity of the patient’s behaviors. Therapists use this framework to support patients in achieving certain goals.
Stage I: behavioral
Stage II: emotional and cognitive
Stage III: interpersonal
Stage IV: sense of self
There is no specific time frame designed for each one of the stages. The amount of time spent within each stage will be determined by these goals.
Stage I: Behavioral
At this stage, a behavior is out of control: patients may try to kill themselves, engage in self-harming behaviors or use drugs and alcohol excessively. Self-destructive behaviors can also occur at this stage, and mental illness could be described as “being in hell”.
The goal is to achieve behavioral control.
Stage II: Emotional and Cognitive
Leaving life-threatening behaviors behind, patients may feel as living in quiet desperation. Past trauma and invalidation may make suffering continuous for them, this can cause the patient to inhibit emotion experiencing. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is addressed at this stage.
The goal is to move from quiet desperation to normative emotional experiencing and expression.
Stage III: Interpersonal
Stage III is aimed at rebuilding a life and achieving skills generalization in relationships and working environments. Life goals should be defined and self-respect has to be built. Finding peace and happiness becomes the main focus.
The goal is to achieve ordinary happiness and unhappiness. LPR
Stage IV: Sense of self
This stage is optional and is often used with those patients who seek further spiritual fulfillment or a sense of connection to a greater whole. Those patients usually cannot stay with just a life of ordinary happiness and unhappiness from the previous stage. LPR
Goal: Moving from a sense of incompleteness towards a life that involves an ongoing capacity to experience joy and freedom.
DBT patients usually do not have just one problem that needs to be addressed, but several ones. They may present multiple problematic behaviors that do not fall under one specific diagnosis.
Yada yada yada....
Next up we did a visualization mindfulness exercise focusing on space in our minds, between our thoughts.
Whilst breathing, guided in a mindful manner, we gently talked about:
The space in our mind, in our heads. We visualized the walls in our mind, far apart, spacious, plenty of room.
Where are our thoughts coming from?
Noticing flexibility in out thoughts.
Where do out thoughts go?
Keeping mindful of all the space and breathing slowly, paced and deep.
And that was that pretty much. A grounding exercise before we delved into the bulk of the DBT session.
To start of with on this topic we talked about what it is, self compassion and how we need get past always focusing on "consequences" of our fuck ups and I have a lot of them!
Getting beyond just the consequences of bad things, things we have done that are bad or wrong or even hurtful or abusive to others. No excuses for that shit but getting beyond the self punishment loop that some people never ever get out of and perpetually stay in a loop of guilt, shame and consequential mental illness. This can also be true about things that are done to us by others that inflict self shame on us. Abuse does this. Getting past the consequences onto the road to self forgiveness.
Pretty much all of my horrid behaviors were and are down to unskillful behavior both when very mentally ill and when more mental stable but to far different scales on the spectrum of being a cunt to myself and others. The harm caused. I just didnt have the skill sets. Not what so ever when ill, in the throws of BPD depressive illness, splitting on people, being horrid. Such regrets but so so so ill. Fuck. But i have to extend myself some self compassion and forgive my self, at least in part. I was in an no win situation. I do however own it, I am accountable for it and I will fix it. For my part. Other peoples contributions towards these "situations" are for them to be accountable for but seemingly they don't even think to own it, acknowledge it and that hurts. I digress....
So, get beyond the consequences. I was doing my best considering and I most certainly am doing my best now that's a damn sight better! Self credit and compassion where self credit and compassion is due. Fuck yeah.
I remain mindful as i say of the "kernel of truth" though in my behaviors. They have been at times insanely horrible and well, just insane! Out of order.
Controlling to a degree
Threats about self harm and suicide. I meant each one though. threats non the less.
Smashing shit up.
I was out of control. 😣 a real downer.
Again we looked at all the stuff behind all of the above such as a chaotic upbringing peppered with all kinds of shite that is not for consumption here. Private stuff. Also the fact that I was let loose into the big wide world with no, jack shit, emotional coping skills sets. Parents fucked up, guardians fucked up, schools fucked up, non of them picked up on my mental illness and emotional "perfect storm" waiting to crash and burn. Non of them. Fell right through the gaps despite the crap as a kid I want through. I digress.
I was set free into the working mans environment with to much responsibility, to much for me to handle and manage. Mental breakdowns were gonna happen!
There are back stories to my horrible conditions and resulting behaviors and terrible personal interactions. I cant help but be a bit bitter about that however it is tempered with acceptance.
Acceptance is what I am working on.
Over the past two years I have worked hard on countering unrealistic expectations of myself with self compassion skills I have been learning here in DBT. In my 40's lol! Still, better late than never.
As a result I have been challenging my trademark self talk, my self depreciating talk, even in humour. I have had a tendency to talk myself down, right down to the point of self hating talk which others always found funny and it became a go to default behavior, a kind of self deference mechanism that in fact did me harm, self harm. It was kind of clown behavior as has been a lot of my public persona behavior🤡😭.
So, being mindful of that silly stuff now, I am watching and adjusting my self talk and that has been rubbing off on how I treat and speak to others, especially those I let into my private life, for the better.
We spoke about the fact I have been a bit of yes man to please others. A people pleaser which has caused me a lot of reputation damage when I cant see my commitments through because of anxiety, depression, being overwhelmed, self judgments, all hand in hand. BPD. The in ability to say no in fear of not being accepted or upsetting and letting down others, which, in the long run, I quite often did because of the said SNAFU's.
I have worked and practiced hard and intensely on saying "no" and not feeling like a reject or let down or bad person. realizing, i no longer have to prove myself or beat myself up with self shame automatic thoughts because of judgments and put downs from others. They are not my parents, they are not my guardians or social services. They are people, just people and they can either accept my decision with grace or not. Not my problem. Not my fault.
I have been learning and believing in myself with help from DBT. Challenging those fears, hard wired fears. Let the rewiring continue in earnest.
No more "Mr Yes". Self respect is far more important.
DEAR MAN skills:
A review of DEAR MAN skills in this next bit. A discussion about what we covered in the main DEAR MAN unit and just how vital it is to practice these skills and keep practicing them and integrating them into everyday life alongside other skill sets we are focusing on.
DBT Skills: How to Get People to Do What You Want
DEAR MAN is an acronym to help you remember a behavioral strategy that can make it more likely that you get what you want from other people. It is not a Jedi mind control trick. It is a strategy to help you assert yourself to other people while maintaining healthy relationships. The DEAR MAN strategy is part of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, an evidence-based form of therapy designed to help you live your best life. There are seven steps to DEAR MAN.
D – Describe the situation.
When you describe the situation, stick to the facts. It is a good idea to try to remove yourself from the situation, and speak as if you were an impartial third party.
For example, imagine that your teenage son has been coming home after the curfew you set for him. You could describe the situation by saying, “You have been late coming home three times this week.”
E – Express how you feel about the situation.
Avoid getting upset. Express how you feel using I-statements. When you express your feelings, beliefs, and needs starting with the word “I”, then you are using an I-statement. I-statements are important because they keep communication open.
In the example, you might say, “I worry about you when it is late, and I don’t know where you are.” Your son will be more likely to continue engaging with you if you use I-statements rather than if you said, “You are irresponsible.” or “You make me worry.”
A – Assert yourself.
Assert yourself does not mean being aggressive. It means asking directly for what you want. Asserting yourself can be uncomfortable, but keep in mind that people cannot read your mind. By clearly expressing what you want or need, you are helping other people to support you.
Looking at the example, you might tell your son, “I need you to come home on time.”
R – Reinforce your request.
In relationships, we reward each other for doing things that we like all the time. This could be something as simple as saying, “Thank you.” or baking a cake for someone who has done something nice for you.
For example, you might tell your son, “I would be more willing to let you spend time with your friends if you show me that you can be responsible.”
M – Mindfulness is vital.
Keep your focus on what you want. Avoid distractions. If the person that you are asserting yourself to attacks you personally, hold your ground. Ignore attacks.
If your son begins to verbally attack you, do your best to remain composed and focused.
A – Appear confident.
For many people, asserting yourself is uncomfortable. You might not feel confident, but that does not mean you cannot look confident.
When you are talking with your son, make eye contact. Speak calmly, clearly and loudly.
N – Negotiate.
The ideal outcome is where both parties feel like they have won. This means listening to the other person. Interpersonal effectiveness is not about dictating to other people what they should do. To be effective, you have to be open to what the other person has to say.
In our example, your son might argue that he comes home late due to circumstances beyond his control. You might settle on a compromise that satisfies both of you. For example, you might reach an agreement that your son must call home if he is going to be late.
Not only does using the DEAR MAN skill help you get what you want, it helps you preserve your relationships in the process. This strategy is one of the many ways that DBT can help you to live your best life.
Them moving swiftly on into a discussion about Self Awarness and instructions to review week 5 which I shall do later this week.
Examining how I am impacting on other peoples lives and this has been and is in sharp focus as I am on my DBT healing journey. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past and loose what I lost again. For others, for me. No more arguments, no more heart break, no more ineffective, unnecessary unhappiness. I will keep fine tuning my new skills.
I will keep fine tuning my words, language, deliverance, cadence, and etiquette toareds others and towards myself.
Self talk affects every cell in your body for goof and for bad. Every cell feels it. Positive self talk tempered with positive humility is key to happiness. Same for limmiting the negative self talk, the self harming self talk.
Stop playing old tapes back, over and over ⬆⬆⬆⬆
Review materials on old tapes. Here are some snippets:
On this topic we talked about surrounding ourselves with positive people that build you up rather than knock you down which certainly, I know a few of them but I do distance myself from the negative dark bully types more and more. I am seeking out positive people these days with which to interact with. I am very mindful of my environment and peers these days which explains why I have gravitated away from pubs and booze. I sense and kind of know I have some life changed coming up that revolves around being amongst higher vibrations, more positive outlooks and healthier lifestyles.
Acknowledge my accomplishments and that of others.
Build myself up as well as others.
Allow myself to be built up.
PLEASE skills review:
Be mindful and practice these always and forever ⬆⬆⬆ Building blocks of self DBT care.
Again, the yes man bullshit is relevant here 100 percent. Stop the BS, stop the lies, stop the wanting to please every one and shut up or pause and think before reacting impulsively. Say no, be polite but be truthful and realistic. Shut the fuck up Cummins!
This is also true in heated moments. Use the skills. Stop. Pause. Find space. Find wise mind and then react or come back to it later, calm. Save myself a whole load of trouble!
Suggested reading material I need to purchase, note to self! 🔴
Stop the bullshit. Stop the anger. Stop the let down "Mr Yes" behavior patterns, Stop the proving myself nonsense. Self Respect is far more important and in fact demands more respect.
"It's all about the pause" - this is the magic trick.
New acquaintances are not automatically friends let alone good friends.
Pause your thinking when meeting new people you take too and gel with. Slow your attachment process down and realize its unwise to attach to fast. You could be fitting your self up.
Remember ,y own examples of this from the past. The ward 9 dilemma for example and all the two faced fickle people in the pub. "Pub friends".
Over idealization, over attaching and a wanting to be close to fast devalues one self integrity.
Bear in mind that idolizing people will often just end up in disappointment as people are only human and will fuck up and probably let you down in some way or other. As I do others.
When dealing with new people, find that calm, spacious thinking, slow you speaking, slow your thoughts and find wise mind!
Projection is a funny beast and over idealization can initially give you a bit of high with a dopamine release giving the sense that the particular person is GREAT! When in fact that might not be the case as much you feel and want it to to be. A bit like falling in love. Remember the chemicals!
Remember how much I over idolized the Big Bird and when she let me down or I felt and sometimes imagined she let down my reaction was furious and abusive all because I over idealized and got waaay to hurt too often. How fucked up was I? Do not over idolize. Remember these harsh lessons.
Love hunger can drive you a bit and and make you chase someone hard, to hard. Don't. Enough said. Take hints, understand, give space, watch you language and cadence.
When going in to certain situations amongst peers, people you respect, someone you fancy or love, go in prepped, fill up with self care first, don't go emotionally hungry or exhausted, don't go in desperate to get what you want or feel or achieve certain goals.