THIS WEEK: We all have been working so hard that I want us to take a break and take a look at some reminders.
Mindfulness - ask yourself if you have been practicing this skill even when you are not in need of soothing yourself. Please share some exercises that work for you.
Need/preference - is what you are asking for a need or a preference.
Keeping our objective clear in our minds.
Practicing a few distress tolerance skills vs. many all at once.
Lets look at emotions for a moment. Emotions are very useful and very harmful. Clearly we can see the harm in negative emotions. No doubt we have an arsenal of negative emotions tucked away in a closet. Unfortunately, because of this surplus of negative emotion when we see something on the television or we are in a similar situation to that we have been in, in the past we pull on these negative emotions that we have stored up. We retrieve information from this arsenal and apply it to what is happening to us in the moment. This ability can be useful if (1) we retrieve from positive emotions or (2) if we need the retrieval to prevent us from doing something life threatening. Outside of these two circumstances, chances are retrieving past emotions will only do us more harm than good.
So, if all we are pulling from are piles of old negative emotions then we need to do something about that. We need to build positive emotions. So that when we find ourselves in a situation we can increase our likelihood of leaning on the memory of a positive emotion.
For the short term, we need to do as many pleasant things as we can possibly do. I am not encouraging every one to abandon their responsibilities for the time being, but rather include as many fun things in your day as would be reasonable. Make sure you look for ways to enjoy yourself.
Do at least one thing daily that really brings you joy, some examples are listening to music, soaking in the bathtub, collecting things, recycling old items, going to a movie in the middle of the week, jogging or walking, buying household gadgets, laughing, listening to someone elses positive day, reading a book, beautiful scenery, eating (mindful), repairing things around the house, caring for plants, playing golf, flying kites, getting the family together, camping, singing, praying, positive affirmations, a day off, painting, taking a nap, entertaining, playing musical instruments, making a gift for someone, cooking, hiking, writing poems, sewing, sightseeing, gardening, kissing, watching children play, dancing. Of course the list is really really long and can be as long as you would like it to be.
Long term changes will make what a life worth living looks like for you. Set goals, the idea is to accumulate positives. Make a list of positive events that you would like, list small steps toward those goals. Things to think about while accomplishing your goal in small steps is if this goal is hard for you, tell yourself that it is OK that it is hard for yourself, imagine yourself accomplishing it anyways. Start the goal by breaking it down into small steps that you can award yourself for along the way, of course make sure you are awarding yourself, lighten your load where you can, don't be hard on yourself. Have a reward for yourself at the very end of the goal that will keep you driving for it.
Build these positive emotions so that we can use them when things aren't going as positive as you would like them to.
TRY THIS: during the week make your list of what your goal of positive events you want, list the small steps in achieving them. Then, through out the week, for each day jot down the things you did to get you closer to your goal. Share with us on how you did.