We had a couple of comments from last weeks topic about the distress tolerance kits; and I really wanted to thank you. Your comments are a true contribution to the success of this group. Having a place to share your experience helps you, having a place to read others experiences helps us. Keep sharing!
Lets take on a topic with a little more depth. We have spoken about objectives and how important it is to know your objective and be very clear on what it is that you are wanting out of any given situation. There is a distinct difference between need and preference. Take a look at the following sentences, seriously look at them and reflect on how those sentences might read for you personally:
I need to change high conflict between my husband and I.
I prefer that my husband is as committed to making changes as I am.
Here is a case of need vs. preference. If I approach resolving high conflict with my husband as needing him to be as committed to making changes as I am, I will add far more distress to my objective than I might be able to handle. This may sound silly at first, because naturally any couple would expect that their mate be as committed as they are to resolving conflict. However, first of all, needing a person to be committed vs. preferring them to be committed puts us in a very dependent position. Our happiness cannot be dependent on another person or their actions, it simply does not work. Secondly, whether or not we have the expectation of our mate being committed, we simply cannot force the actions of anyone else no matter how much we feel we need it to be that way. Understanding the difference here is pivotal. Lets say for an example that my husband is committed to making 'things better' but feels that the changes will come as I learn to deal with my mental illness better. Now there is certainly some truth to that, the more manageable our mental illness is the less conflicted our relationships will be, although his stand point of things getting better tied into my mental health only, relieves him of having to make specific personal changes. I put this in great detail like this because we need to be able to see exactly the line between preference and need.
If I have gone through skills training and all the while I have clung to the idea that I need my husband to be committed to making changes himself, then when a conflict comes up, he resists the idea of him needing to make changes, so I then pull a distress tolerance skill out and hold pattern and I don't make the conflict worse; I will be pleased with myself. I will have reason to be motivated to keep using skills. At some point however, distress tolerance is just that. To tolerate, there needs to be healing so that we can move from tolerating distress to problem solving the distress; reduce or eliminate the distress. In this scenario I will never move out of tolerating into problem solving because I will be waiting on my husband to make some changes, ones that he does not feel he needs to make. See how it is just creating more distress by thinking this preference is a need?
Let's switch it. Lets say now that I have gone through skills training and I have realized that I prefer my husband to be committed to making changes too, but I understand that my need is that the high conflict to be reduced, I will work with my husband at this up until the point that he feels he is no longer responsible for any changes. Instead of going into distress tolerance, I move to problem solving. I make that shift because I know that I would like my husband to make changes, but I also understand that he may not feel the need to. Therefore it has now become fully my responsibility to fall back on my need, and that is to reduce high conflict. At this point however, it looks as though I will need to be doing it without the continued assistance of my husband, but if I had stuck to the idea that I needed him to be committed to changes, then I would have never seen the cue to problem solve for myself. I would still be sitting back tolerating distress and waiting . . . Granted this particular situation is far more complicated than just these few paragraphs. Naturally, no one wants to be faced with a situation where their partner feels they have less changing to do than you. Also, in the defense of some of our mates, they really feel as though they are just as committed but perhaps they are also at a loss for skills.
In conclusion, being clear on our need vs. preference we open up options. Confusing the two we are blinded to options. Certainly, some of those choices that come from those options are not choices that we may want to make, but they are there and since they are, then we need to be able to utilize them.
Next week we will discuss three things we will need to be sure to have weighed and balanced before we move forward in problem solving.
TRY THIS: Make a note of what you believe to be your needs. Then ask yourself, is this really a need? Discuss with yourself the possibility that it may be a preference. Share what conclusion you came up with. If you aren't sure, comment about your situation and see if we can offer insight. Next week we will move forward.