One of My Favorite Skills

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A few years ago, when I was enrolled in classes intensively studying Dialectical Behavior Therapy, I learned a skill that became one of my very favorites. I put together an iTunes playlist soon after I enrolled in those DBT classes and this one skill seemed to be the easiest skill to find represented in the songs I had in my iTunes library at the time. Later, I found the coloring page above and used colored pencils to add vibrant colors to the page so I could have a bright reminder for using this skill. The DBT skill essentially taught me to do what the picture above is recommending.

Stand tall when you feel small. Or another way of saying it is, fake it until you make it. The specific instructions in Dialectical Behavior Therapy involved doing something that elicits the opposite emotion to what emotion you’re currently feeling. So, if you feel like going back to bed and hiding under the covers all day, instead get up and do something productive! I use this skill regularly. I love that if I’m starting to feel irritated and I don’t feel like doing something that’s good for me, I can use this skill to drastically change my mood.

You don’t have to have studied Dialectical Behavior Therapy to benefit from doing this to help you get yourself out of a mood rut. I have found that it’s helpful when interacting with my small daughter to recommend to her when she’s feeling gloomy that she do something different that she enjoys and she’ll feel less gloomy. It works!

I feel so grateful to have skills to help me manage my moods. I don’t often have mood fluctuations these days, and it’s so nice to have skills like this in my self-care repertoire. Try it. Stand tall when you’re feeling small!

Lightening Our Burdens

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Yesterday my day started out pretty badly. I was able to recognize though, while feeling really blue, that I didn’t want my day to continue on as it was going. At that point, I was feeling just awful. So, to help myself,  I used a skill I learned while I was attending online Dialectical Behavior Therapy  classes at DBT Path. You can learn more about the classes I attended, and which I highly recommend, by going here.  The DBT skill I used ended up helping me to turn around a day that began with very unpleasant feelings, including tears, into a day that ended up being filled with gratitude and peace.
Yesterday morning I was feeling very triggered and stressed out by a situation that is impacting every area of my life. I started the process of helping myself out of that triggered and stressed blue place by validated my own feelings. I allowed myself to mindfully feel sadness and frustration, and I allowed myself some mindful crying, because I feel that tears can be very cleansing. However, I also knew while I was allowing myself to feel those unpleasant emotions that it would ultimately do me no good to wallow in those unhappy thoughts. So, while I was still crying I typed a simple message on my phone and sent it, copied, to all of my friends with whom I am in regular texting contact.
The simple message I sent to each of my friends looked like this:
Hi there! I hope your week is going well. Thinking of you, and sending hopes of all good things your way. 👍😊
I felt a tiny bit better, emotionally, after sending out those words of encouragement and kindness to my friends. I didn’t know what was going on with my friends yesterday morning. But, I suspected that there was a pretty good chance that one or two of my friends might even be needing to read words like those coming from a friend yesterday because of things going on in their lives which they had not shared with me.
So, I went about my morning. I washed some dishes, and I took some time to do a meditation to help further calm my emotions. Then, I started receiving text replies from some of my friends.
Many of the friends I had reached out to with that simple little message responded thanking me for thinking of them, and for taking the time to reach out to send them good wishes. Over the course of the rest of my day I ended up in several brief texting conversations with friends who replied thanking me for reaching out, sharing what’s going on with them, and also asked how I was doing, and wishing me well.
I have been having a challenging week, pretty much filled with challenges I would have rather done without. So, when some of my friends inquired as to how I’m doing I answered their queries honestly. But, as I wrote back to them, I realized, and shared with them, that the challenges I’m facing this week may not be pleasant, or what I would have wanted to experience, but that I feel gratitude for the fact that I can *choose to* transform these uncomfortable moments in my life into writing material to add meaning and richness to the experiences of the characters who populate my fiction writing.
I know not everyone writes fiction, or writes at all, so not everybody has the option to label their unpleasant experiences as writing material. But, I know for certain that I have developed my attitude of gratitude toward ALL my experiences thanks to studying DBT for quite a few years now.
Yesterday I used a DBT Skill to check in with my friends, and sending the messages out, and hearing back from many friends, both lightened my own emotional burdens, and in a few cases I also ended up being able to help my friends lighten their emotional burdens a bit too.
By the time I went to sleep last night I was feeling pretty good. I even was able to finish writing a new chapter in the novel I’m currently creating. How different, and how much better my day ended compared to how it began!
It didn’t take me long to send out that simple message to my friends. And, it didn’t take away time that I desperately needed to have spent engaged in some other task to engage in some brief texting conversations with my friends either. All of the time I spent yesterday validating my own feelings, and validating the feelings of my friends, was absolutely time well spent. So, this morning I thought I would share this experience with all of you who read my blog posts.
I hope that all of you who read this post will validate your own feelings today, to the best of your ability, and that perhaps you might also take some time to lend a listening ear to someone else too, if you are able. I feel that each and every one of us make the world a little bit better place when we make the choice to help each other in lightening our burdens.
© 2017 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.