In support of those of you out there that are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated I wanted to start off this week by an encouragement. DBT may seem hard, perhaps even too difficult.
We can see a dialectic in feeling as though this is too hard, and that is this: DBT is hard and very difficult and it can be done and our lives will improve.
Both of these opposites exist and are true at the same time.
The idea here is to recognize each piece of truth and use it to determine what our action will be. There is truth to DBT being hard, by being hard is my action going to be to stop learning? There is also truth to the effectiveness of DBT, this truth does it make me punish myself for it being hard? Do I pass judgment on myself because I am having a hard time, and since I have heard by so many people how useful it is, therefore something must be wrong with me? Imagine a teeter-totter. While one end is in the air, the other end is on the ground. Decisions made on either end will be all or nothing. No in-between. Learning how to investigate each opposite and search out that nugget of truth, we will better provide ourselves with a more balanced view. Imagine now that teeter-totter balancing over the middle hump with both ends even with one another. A decision made here, will be one that has taken into account those truths of both opposites. Likely, understanding that DBT is hard, taking that truth; and understanding its benefits, taking in that truth; you will then decide to give yourself a break, validate your feelings of inadequacy and continue learning DBT skills.
We have three ways in which our mind can make choices: 1-Logic/reasonableness; 2-Emotions/Feelings; 3-Balanced/Wise. Let us look at each of these more closely.
1-Logic/Reasonableness: Our thinking can be quite linear or removed from the situation we may be in. We will analyze the situation and list the facts about it. If we are making decisions here, they will be detached and likely without much compassion for ourselves or others that may be impacted by our choices.
2- Emotions/Feelings: The thinking here tends to be with energy. Any amount of feeling that there has to be about any given situation will be listed here, and usually all at the same time. There isn't much organization. In fact, we will tend to find ruminating, ramped up, and empathy all in the same boat in this state. Decisions made here, will tend to be shaky, inconsistent and blurry.
3- Balanced/Wise - Here is where we want to be making our decisions. It is a blend of both Logic and Emotion. The blend of course varies from situation to situation and from person to person. Perhaps in one situation 30% Logic and 70% Emotion is what will work effectively for you; where-as for me 60% Logic and 40% Emotion will be effective.
The largest obstacle is to know what recipe fits for each situation. It would be impossible for us to have a chart that we could pull out of our pocket and simply look-up the %'s we would need. We wouldn't want to live our lives as mechanically as that anyways, we want to be effective participants in our own lives, we want to be able to learn to make decisions without consulting our long list of skills. As much as we may be using some 'list' like tools, eventually we would like to make a decision with the proper amounts of Logic and Emotion with ease and comfort. The first step to that is being mindful of where we tend to 'reside'. Are you a person who has taken up residence in Logic, only vacationing on rare occasions to Emotion? Maybe we live in Emotion and didn't even know our neighbor was Logic? Even more realistically, are we fully aware of both of the parts of our mind that work in Logic and Emotion but when it comes to decisions, where is the driver at? It has to be on one side or the other, or you wouldn't have a need for improvement in your life, you would have already achieved what most of us are desperately wrangling to get a hold of. We are all on a quest, A) to get to know ourselves better and B) to improve our quality of life. OK, so the only way we will get to know ourselves better, is we first take a step backward from our earnest desire to change our enormous list of qualities we have found to be ineffective, and simply observe.
TRY THIS: During the course of this next week, observe yourself during your daily activities. Make these observations from a position free of judgments. If you find that you judge yourself often, simply note that you have passed a judgment on yourself, and then continue to observe. Write your observations down. What do you notice? Can you describe what you notice without adding more judgment? Make a record of your observations to use later when we start to participate in what we have observed.