DBT Workbook – Part 02 – Healthy ways to distract from emotional situations.

This is a series that I am writing on Dialectical Behavior Therapy – DBT has changed my life. The workbook states that this “strengthens a person’s ability to handle distress without losing control or acting destructively” by building “skills in four key areas – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.” DBT is a huge part of the foundation of my centeredness as well as my ability to “live in the moment” and find gratitude – needed ingredients (I believe) in spirituality and humility.
I would like to share some of my insights as I work through the workbook for my second time. I encourage anybody and everybody to take a look at DBT – as parts of this can help anyone that is looking to find more peace, joy, love, and self-love in their life.

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Today, I was reading and working through the section on distracting yourself from negative emotions or self-destructive behaviors.

I’ve never engaged is self mutilation, but I belonged to a few dual-diagnosis outpatient treatment groups that had individuals that did. There were many ways that I have acted out in some very dangerous behaviors. Street racing, dangerously perching on roof-tops, drug addiction, alcoholism, the list goes on…

This chapter looks at some distractions that people can use when faced with “overwhelming emotions”. I use these techniques when I become very angry, depressed, can’t sleep, or I feel overwhelmed.
The first list are things that we enjoy. It sounds so simple, but I keep a written list so that when I am in the middle of an emotional situation or feeling halted by a depression rolling in, I can pull that list out and pick something that interests me in the moment. I checked off some of the activities that the book lists, but what I have found is that I just need to try things and see what I really enjoy. If it is an activity that builds esteem, is healthy, and makes me feel accomplished – it goes on the list. If I don’t find a love for something, then I don’t add it.
The second section of this chapter discusses ways to distract oneself by paying attention to someone else. Not in a co-dependant way, but by volunteering, helping others, even riding with a friend while they are knocking off a list of their errands. Sometimes, when I feel a depression rolling in, I will just think about my family and friends that support me. The love we have for each other. This always puts a smile on my face.
The next section says to “distract your thoughts”. There are a lot of ways I do this. Nature is the best way to get out of my head and find some gratitude. The book lists a few that include “keep a copy of your favorite prayer or favorite saying with you”, “imagine yourself as a hero or heroine”, or to think about good things from the past.
Next, is to use chores or tasks to keep distracted (not my favorite, but many get a lot of pleasure from dishes or doing laundry).
Also, counting is a good way to momentarily distract oneself. I use this a lot… I’ll stop for a moment and take some deep breaths and count them. It doesn’t take but a few to recenter on the fly and deal with a situation. Sometimes I need to repeat. Then repeat again. lol
Lastly, my favorite is to find things that soothe. Take a pause in life and focus on the senses. Touch, taste, sounds around you, feeling things or the wind on your face, or look at something beautiful. There are times where I will stop my mind to look at the shape of an object and trail my fingers along it to feel the texture. Perhaps a unique rock. Feel the heat coming off of it from the sun. Or after it rains, I’ll take a deep breath of the clean air and smell the wild sage brush that we have all over the desert. Maybe look at a single fluffy cloud just hanging out over the horizon – thank Mother Nature for the gifts of beauty that we have been given.
At the end of the chapter, there is an area to create your own action plan. My first time through the workbook, I was pretty obstinate about doing this. I felt like a little kid being made to “pickle papers” or a silly exercise. What I have realized, is that by writing these things down – they are reinforced in my mind. They go from ideas to tangible tools. Also, when my mood shifts, from my disorder, I sometimes loose the capability of fully rational thought. I need it in black and white and in my hands to know that it is true. Think about it, how many times have you become so angry that your mind twists things around a bit. Later you look back and say, “why did I get so angry about that?” Because sometimes, we take a build up of emotions from all over the place and channel them into something undeserving. For me, this happens if I am not dealing with things (day to day) in a healthy way. So for me, It is best when I write these things down and pull them out when I feel a little off. I then reconnect with all the good work that I have been doing and center quickly. Take the power out of the situation and see things for what they are.

Below is one page of activities that are suggest as self-distractions. What are some of your favorite ways to distract when you are upset or feeling down?

DBT Workbook – Part 01 – Distress Tolerance

Dialectical Behavior Therapy – DBT has changes my life.  The workbook states that this “stengthens a person’s ability to handle destress without losing control or acting destructively” by building “skills in four key areas – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.”  DBT is a huge part of the foundation of my centereness as well as my ability to “live in the moment” and find gratitude – needed ingredients (I believe) in spirituality and humility.

I would like to share some of my insights as I work through the workbook for my second time.  I encourage anybody and everybody to take a look at DBT – as parts of this can help anyone that is looking to find more peace, joy, love, and self-love in their life.

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When reading about DBT, I have often seen it written that people with “overwhelming emotions” can benefit the most.  True.  But I also believe that DBT can help anyone that has trouble quieting their mind, taking moments to find gratitude, or overreacts to situations or people.

The first chapter is about distress tolerance – finding healthy ways to deal with stessful situations.  The workbook lists several unhealthy ways that people react to bad situations or when someone has hurt them.  To name a few from the workbook, that stand out to me:

  • “You spend a great deal of time thinking about past pain, mistakes, and problems.
  • “You isolate yourself to avoid possible pain.”
  • “You use alcohol or drugs to numb yourself”
  • “You take painful feelings out on others”
  • “You engage in dagergerous behaviors…”
  • “…unsafe sexual activity…”
  • “…avoid dealing with he causes of your problems…”
  • “You surrender to your pain and live an unfufilling life.”

These are a few of the ways I once handled stess and emotions.  All of them and many more.  As I work through this chapter (now 2 years later) I can see how most of these are behaviors of the past.  But there are still a few that stick out.  I do still avoid some situations instead of dealing with them head on.  Some of it is to avoid confrontation, fear of failure, or I think they will be too difficult.  I’ll work through them, as I work through the chapter, so you can see the process in action.

Find your Peace from within.

I made a timelaps of the sunrise, this morning. It was beautiful.

While it was filming, one of my daily meditations really hit me in the right spot. I took an excerpt from it and made this short video. The full daily is below, from the book Jesus Calling. As I have said many times, I am not a religious person. But I am very spriritual and belive it all comes from the same Devine source. With that, I am able to connect spiritually through many people, sources, and nature. ❤❤❤

“LEARN TO LIVE from your true Center in Me. I reside in the deepest depths of your being, in eternal union with your spirit. It is at this deep level that My Peace reigns continually. You will not find lasting peace in the world around you, in circumstances, or in human relationships. The external world is always in flux – under the curse of death and decay. But there is a gold mine of Peace deep within you, waiting to be tapped. Take time to delve into the riches of My resideing Presence. I want you to live increasingly from your real Center, where My Love has an eternal grip on you…”

I still can allow people or circumstances to throw off my peace and centeredness. But I am getting much better in staying connected to that true self, within, and hold tight to my faith. There are several tool I use to do this. I believe it is possible for anyone that is struggling and wants to put in the work.

Part of this, is to remind myself that I cannot change or control others, I usually can’t control my circumstances, but I can control how I let them effect me. If I continue to do the right things for the right reasons (and hold on to my faith) then I will end up where I need to be. 😊❤

I must be aware of my own feelings, the way I watch the weather.

I

caught the first signs of a depression moving in. Just a cycle of my bipolar, like the seasons rolling in and out.

Battling depression or mood swings is a similar thing, to being aware of the seasons and weather. If I am watching the reports, grateful of my family and friends giving me a heads up, and staying aware… then I know a cold front is coming in and the weather is changing. If I know, then I can do some things: dress warm, have emergency supplies ready to go, and be prepared instead of stepping out into the unknown. I might still feel the chill of the air, but with a little work up front I can be sure to keep the cold from making my hands ache and getting chilled to the bone.

Moving beyond the stormy weather.

As the storms, here, clear… I looked out over the mountains and just felt the sun warming my face. The air was so sweet. There is a calm cool breeze… as compared to the hammering, yesterday, that ripped pieces of siding off the place. Serene silence replacing the unrelenting howl and pounding rain.

Mother Nature is capable of unleashing beastly amounts of power that can destroy and wipe a landscape down to nothing. Yet, here she is, offering me a world of peace, warmth, and serenity. As if to say:

“I’m sorry that you had to witness and push through such turbulence, but I had to do my thing to keep my earth healthy and balanced. Thank you for your patience, understanding, preserverance, and unconditional love; we will have some amazing days ahead.” 🌄🌎❤

A reflection of my personal message to my family and friends, after I go through stormy periods in my own life.

Break the mold, and just be you. Whatever that may be.

There is something, about myself, that I am coming to understand and accept. I have a deep sensitivity to others and their emotions.

Some may call this empathy. It could be that I have felt pain in so many areas, that I can connect and truly understand other’s pain. I have been told, by some, that it ould be something greater than that – people who believe themselves to be gifted or Empaths. Perhaps every human has this sensitivity but chooses to numb it out – as I did for most of my life.

This, I don’t have an answer for.

What I do know, is that for most all of my life, one of my greatest joys has been to go on backpacking retreats for days at a time. To isolate and be with nature. I didn’t understand why, at the time, but it was a way for me to center myself and hit the “reset button”on my own emotional state.

It took (over) a year on the road – isolated much of the time – to plant the seed on this personal revelation. When I stayed with a friend in New York City for a few months, I could only be in the city a few days at a time. I was so overwhelmed with stimulation, that I was almost rendered useless. I didn’t feel like I could conentrate long enough to accomplish anything. After a week, I went camping in upstate New York and stayed in my tent for a month and a half. Some of the most peaceful moments in my life, there, at the edge of a farm property at the entrance to hiking trails. I only visited my friend, in the city, a few times.

Currently, I stay at my workshop for most the time in the middle of the desert. Completely isolated. I flourish here. I make progress. Make leaps and bounds in personal and spiritual growth. It is home. The only reminder that I have, that I am attached to civilization, are a few houselights twinkling in the distance, the glow of Las Vegas on a hazy night, or the line of cars driving out of the mountains towards Pharump.

It will be a while before I am ready to co-habitate with a mate, as I enjoy my solitude greatly. I value and need my time alone. When I do reach that point, that person will need to give me vast amounts of personal space – as I need it to function as a human.

I say all of this because I have so many friends that are unhappy in thier life. I think we are conditioned, beginning at an early age, that there is a certain way that we should live our lives. A particular format for relationsips. We see this mimicked in our friends and family. On TV. Magazines. Everywhere.

I have some fortunate friends, though, who have broken out of this mold.

I have so much respect for how they balance an 8 – 5 corporate job and handle responsibilies during the week. On the weekend, they deviate from the normal and travel, have adventures, and do the things they love to do. Or, friends that are in relationships where the two of them have trust and respect for eachother and encourage eachother to go do their separte hobbies and ventures. Learn from eachoher. Love that they have different interests and needs. Find a way to accept and compromise to find a balance.

If you are unhappy, in your life, then I challenge you to do something different. Don’t be held back by “what would… think” or “people would think I’m crazy…”

Find your joy. Discover your talents. Step out of the box.

No more excuses. Love the monent, find yourself, and just be you.

I may not be great at it (yet), but doing something that makes me feel good is all that really matters.

I’m mixing yoga back into my routine. Wow, I suck, after a few years off. 😂😂

Doesn’t matter. 😊 I walked the walk, instead of talking the talk – and complaining about my back aching and how flexible used to be. Took the action. That is part if my living healthy, now. That I do things differently and take action. That is part of self-love, to me.

I took 20 minutes this morning. I feel stretched, connected spiritually, relaxed, fulfilled, confident, and ready for my day.

How do you love yourself. What is something you’ve been saying to yourself, “I’m going to…”?

Today is a good day. Go do it. No more excuses, go love the moment. Find yourself and BE YOU!!