Sunday, June 27, 2010

June 27th - July 4th, 2010

I made a decision, I believe that my choice was wise-mind justified. The question then would be, what have I done to get me here?

First of all what is our wise mind? I know that this is elementary for DBT veterans, yet we are getting quite a bit of new readers lately, so for their benefit let's cover the basics on our three states of mind and their impact on our choices.

We have our Emotion Mind, Logic Mind and our Wise Mind. As I am sure you can piece together that our Wise Mind is a delicate blend of the other two. This can get tricky because for various situations there are various "formula's" of the two states. In some cases I may require more of my emotion mind to be working and less logic, whereas the exact opposite is true, at times I will require more logic than emotion to make an effective choice. Still more, another time equal parts emotion and logic might be what I need be using my wise mind. There are many roads to wise mind. It is up to each individual to determine how much of each makes up their wise mind in any given situation. That simple truism is the root of many of the conflicts we face with persons in our environment, especially our mates.

Each mate has their own formula and at times it can be quite daunting to understand why and how your mate is handling a situation with their own formula when to you the balance is off, and that there is no way you would be able to access your wise mind if the tables were turned. Add to that the nature of why all of this education is needed, which is a mental illness, and now you have a receipt for conflict. It is hard business balancing and understanding your own formula, let alone that of your mate.

Back to our other states of mind, what does Emotion Mind do for you? Well, for starters it can be the way for you to connect to your environment. Although it's actions are based from feelings, the connection you have to persons or things when it comes from your emotion mind is unlike that which will come from logic mind. You will tend to have a sense of urgency when making choices from emotion mind and all of those dreadful feelings that drive your body sensations during a trigger will reside there too. On the plus side, those connections mentioned above, can be quite satisfying and bring great joy. A lot of good in emotion mind.

Logic Mind can be quite reasonable. However, there will be a lot of linear thinking too. When we want to take the detective's approach to your experience we will do well to consult our logic mind, this state of mind analyzes the environment, it takes in the facts.

So we can see here why both mind states are necessary for effective living. If you lived all in one state life would either be dull, predictable, cold and systematic or be a roller coaster ride with passion and excitement around every corner, never knowing whether the excitement will be good or bad. But to take that passion and excitement and roll it up with a good system for living, some predictable stabilized expectations of our environment; ah, then we would really be living! We would achieve a state of mind that is valid, satisfying and we would be able to interact with others effectively and our choices there would stand the test of time.

The way we access our wise mind is simple. Mindfully. As with any of the skills learned in DBT, mindfulness is the factor that gets us from point A to point B. It may sound simple and easy, but we all know that it isn't. All of us struggle with whether we are in our wise mind or not, no matter whether we have been learning and applying DBT now for 5 years, or whether we just started educating ourselves yesterday, we all could use practice with accesses our wise mind.

This mindful approach is what helps us to apply all of the skills we learn when learning to regulate our emotions, or the skills for effective interpersonal relationships, problem solving skills, or distress tolerance skills. Learning them all and using and applying all of those skills will be what makes us in our wise mind or not.

So when I say that my decision was wise-mind justified, clearly I have done a lot of "behind the scenes" skills. Knowing this will help me to accept the consequences from my choice.  Which brings me to our next topic, accepting reality. When we have made a wise mind justified choice it may be easier to accept the reality that comes along with it. But what if we made a choice that was not wise mind justified? Can we still accept the reality that comes along with that? Do we need to accept that reality? Next week...

Before I move onto my next project I wanted to share a book with you all, I was given this book by a dear group member after completing my DBT program, it is called The Book of Qualities by J.Ruth Gendler. A beautiful book really, the book is constructed in chapters, each chapter has an emotion as its title. In a few paragraphs that emotion is described as if the writer were introducing you to the emotion as a person, not a feeling or state of being, and then describes what you might see when meeting that emotion. It is uniquely written and is a quick read. It is more useful as a reference guide for some material to jump-start quiet time for your mind. Here is an excerpt:


Jealousy stands by the blue flame of the gas stove stirring obsession stew. In his mind he is tearing people limb from limb. He wears a shirt that is almost in style with its odd angular shapes and bright edges. He can be quite charming when he wants to be. He certainly has a flair for drama. After awhile, though, the roles Jealousy takes begin to seem shallow, dishonest, repetitive. The more upset he feels, the more loudly he denies it. For a time I stopped giving parties because he wouldn't come if I invited certain people. At that point I couldn't give a party without inviting him, and I was unwilling to censor  my guest list for his sake. He is quite capable of showing up anywhere, unexpected, uninvited, unwelcome.

It's a good read! :)

*Click here to discuss this weeks post with the group*

Thank you for being an important part of My DBT Life . com!

To benefit fully from our online peer-support group please:

  1. Subscribe to our weekly blog –

  2. Follow us on Twitter for frequent mindfulness Tweets – @mydbtlife

  3. Join our forum for Peer-Support & discussions about the weekly post – Forum

  4. Join our Face Book page to increase awareness of our services – F.B. PAGE

If you would like to help in financially supporting our efforts please visit our Donations page to find out – How are my donations used?

If you can’t help financially at this time that’s OK! You can still help out:

  • Post a link to on any page that you own: Face Book, My Space, Twitter, Your BLOG or Your Website- Every link helps us reach the ones who need these services!

  • Volunteer some of your time as a moderator in our forum. If you are certified as a peer-support person or just a friendly listening ear with experience, all are welcome to donate their precious time to help others in similar situations. Please E-mail us for more information!

Thank you!

MJ ~

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 20th - 27th, 2010

Welcome! We have so many exciting things happening with the group! Thank you for your enthusiasm in My DBT Life's expansion projects!

Last week I mentioned that I would share a worksheet for chain analysis that I had come upon, I will, but at the same time I am going to go over what chain analysis is, and why it is helpful. Plus, I have also included a form for My Purpose. Purpose is paramount, without which we would go nowhere. We would have no where to go, there has to be a reason or purpose for our recovery. One does not wake up in the morning and say, "ah, well I suppose it is a good day to change everything about the way I exist in my own environment". That is a colossal undertaking, and without reason, no one in their right mind would desire to take on that task without a purpose, and a seriously intense purpose.

Ok, so why use a chain analysis? The short and fast of this: each of us has hit a dead end road in our life, and has therefore made the choice to create a life worth  living. We have at some point came to realize that our behaviors are ineffective and we are not getting anything out of life, and in most of our cases we also have mates or children that are being impacted. So, what have we done? We have turned to therapeutic methods to learn a different way. Instead of suicidal tendencies, we look to build a day where within each one, we have mastered something. Instead of hiding in a closet and indulging in self-harm, we have chosen to look for alternatives to expressing the pain inside. We have realized that something deeper is wrong, that we are not  just dealing with depression or anxiety. This road has been long and tough. But our work had only begun, coming to the conclusion that something bigger was happening meant that our approach to the problem had to be different too. Through whatever avenues we were introduced to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. In this form of therapy we learned right away that we were going to be our own therapy. No amount of meditation or acupuncture was going to get this work done for us (I am not discounting nor I am I encouraging the use of either of these methods); we were going to do the work ourself! What a new idea! Sure talk therapy has it's benefits, but as we all know, that only takes you so far. . . and then what? For us, DBT.

Alright, in DBT the first thing we learn is mindfulness, being in the moment you are in for what that moment really is, not what you want it to be, not what you wished it to be, rather what it is. recognizing what your own body is going through inside of that moment, and from that awareness determining the choices you have available to you. Then, you learn how to non-judgmentally sift through your behaviors, choices, reactions, interpretations, experiences, understanding, likes/dislikes, the list is endless.  What have we so far? We have defined the problem, we have set a goal and now we will work on shaping and self-monitoring which leads us right into chain analysis!

It is normal to feel that this problem is too difficult and too well ingrained in us to be changed. But shaping the problem, we can break it down into smaller goals in our way to achieving our larger goal of effective living. So you will develop and reward small steps toward this larger goal. To begin you will need to reward the smallest acceptable improvement. When that behavior is learned well, a higher expectation is required for rewarding, and so on until the goal is achieved.

Expecting too much to change at once is likened to telling a hiker that she will receive a buffet of her favorite foods if she can get to the other side of gigantic mountain, but then refusing her rest or supplies during her journey. She will not make it, and neither will you. So you can no doubt see the need for smaller goals to be set throughout your journey to your larger attainable goal. When you are choosing these smaller goals follow these guidelines:

BE CLEAR - specifically what is the goal?

MAKE IT MEAN SOMETHING TO YOU - you will run out of fuel quickly if the goal was made to appease someone else.

ACHIEVABLE - these smaller goals leading you toward your larger goal needs to be attainable based on what is under your control, not on what is under the control of others. These smaller goals need to be "wise-mind" based goals. (We will discuss wise mind more next week)

TRACKABLE - you will have to be able to keep an accurate record of your goals.

SET A TIME-FRAME - set a date for completion. If you have a string of goals, set out when each stage will need to be achieved and then over time, be flexible and re-evaluate. If you do not make the "dead-line" simply, re-state your goal and try again. Fail Well.

You'll want to gather information on yourself in order to be able to record progress. So, if you notice the My Purpose worksheet, you will list three behaviors that you want to change, you will want to gather the information on these behaviors, like where do these behaviors occur? How often? How long? How intense? When does it usually happen?

You will need a formal way of recording your progress, some choose a diary card or journal, in either case make sure you have ample space to track in, be able to be as detailed as possible and it should be relatively quick and easy to use. You should record what you have monitored as soon as you are able, for accuracy. Making it a habit will help to be consistent, and we know that habits are formed usually when we do it the same time each day. And remember, do not give up too quickly, don't stop because it seems too complex, it doesn't seem helpful or you feel overwhelmed, keep at it!

Now enter chain analysis, when you have engaged in target behavior you will want to be able to clearly see what event triggered it, what emotions led to it, what thoughts were connected to those emotions, and what your long and short term consequences are from your target behavior. You can only see those things if you take the time and pick the experience apart, dissect it as though you were a scientist looking for a cure. Chain analysis can help you with that.

The form I have provided is from the groups we do in person, and although I cannot give out the packets we would in person, I chose to give the form from the packet because there is content on the form that I believe to be noteworthy. One of the classes I took we had what they called Green, Yellow, and Red light skills. Green being go skills; ones that you would use to go about your daily activities and these skills help you do so. Yellow being caution skills; your alert systems have been set in motion and you aren't necessarily in crisis but you need to care for yourself and perhaps do a little soothing. Red being STOP-CRISIS! skills; you are in full crisis and you have the ability to read off of a card what to do, this would be your red light skill. The other card that is offered in the group are blue cards, these are skills that you simply wish to practice.  So then, in any given soothing kit, or book bag, purse etc. you would have a blue card with skills you are practicing, a green card with skills that reduce vulnerability, a yellow card for skills that come in handy to distract or tolerate and then a crisis card, or red card. Naturally, the content of these cards would change depending on the day, or the week of what your specific needs are, or specific events.

Alright, so my suggestion is this, post a purpose worksheet in what would be considered a high traffic area for you (mirror, closet door, etc) and take some time and make up your green, yellow, red and blue cards; at least a generic set for generalized situations that you know you possibly could encounter. Have some blank chain analysis worksheets available and each time you engage in a target behavior, or you may not have engaged at least when you know you have come dangerously off of baseline, chart it out. Make sure you have come back to baseline as much as possible before charting it out. Really dig deep, and take a non-judgmental curious approach and get as many details about the experience that you are able.

Here are the worksheets:

My Purpose

Prompting Event

Prompting Event~ins

Next week, we will discuss our three states of mind, logic, emotion and wise. Hope to see you in the forum! We would love to hear your thoughts on this weeks post.

*Click here to discuss this weeks post with the group*

Thank you for being an important part of My DBT Life . com!

To benefit fully from our online peer-support group please:

  1. Subscribe to our weekly blog –

  2. Follow us on Twitter for frequent mindfulness Tweets – @mydbtlife

  3. Join our forum for Peer-Support & discussions about the weekly post – Forum

  4. Join our Face Book page to increase awareness of our services – F.B. PAGEIf you would like to help in financially supporting our efforts please visit our Donations page to find out – How are my donations used?

If you can't help financially at this time that’s OK! You can still help out:

  • Post a link to on any page that you own: Face Book, My Space, Twitter, Your BLOG or Your Website- Every link helps us reach the ones who need these services!

  • Volunteer some of your time as a moderator in our forum. If you are certified as a peer-support person or just a friendly listening ear with experience, all are welcome to donate their precious time to help others in similar situations. Please E-mail us for more information!

Thank you!

MJ ~

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

DBT Forum **3/09/15***

**We had to close the forum for awhile because of lack of participation.

However we do offer groups. Please read about them here. We have found that these groups are a much better way to stay connected and get real-time responses for questions.

Thank-you - MJ

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13th - 20th, 2010

We have some exciting changes here at My DBT Life! We are so excited to reach out more individually with our readers, the details for that will be at the end of this post.

I hope you all have found the past weeks material on the factors that reduce effectiveness, as a re-cap: First of all,  are you lacking a skill and therefore are being ineffective? Second, are your worry thoughts getting in the way? Third, has indecision gotten the better of you? Finally, your environment. What is in your environment that is in your control and what is out of your control?

We have talked extensively about our mates or loved ones and how they impact our environment. Although we are not able to change them, we are able to train them (and ourselves). With each positive moment we make building blocks for positive experiences, then in turn with those positive experiences we build positive effective lives with the people around us.

What else about our environment? One of the things that can drastically reduce the suffering you experience is being mindful of your personal triggers. No one else can possibly know what all of your triggers are, and you cannot either. But what we can do is, using our tools, namely mindfulness, we can become more aware of the things that tend to trigger us. Once we have identified them, we of course avoid them. This sounds really basic, but there is a reason I am spending an entire post on it.

I am going to be really generic here, of course if this were a real life experience there would be more weight to it, so please pretend with me, because I do not want to trigger anyone by using ones that are more realistic.

Let's say I know that the aluminium cans trigger me. There being a blanket of things that could trigger me under that one, like walking down the wrong aisle in the grocery store, or going over to a friends house for a barbecue. It is quite large, and most of your large triggers you no doubt are painfully aware of too. Maybe you know that you cannot sit next to a window when you are at a restaurant, so you avoid it. Naturally we will avoid what hurts us, but what happens if you have spent a large quantity of time in protecting yourself from this known trigger of aluminium cans, just to have what seem to be random episodes when you brush your teeth, another when you are shopping for shampoo, perhaps another when it is time to buy a new shirt to replace one that you can no longer wear. Now you have a series of episodes  that you cannot put your finger on. You are puzzled because ordinarily you enjoy shopping for little things here and there for your wardrobe. What is the underlying environmental factor? This one is particularly puzzling because tit isn't something that is obvious and you can simply walk away. This is also yet another reason why BPD sufferers have a difficult time with employment in the first stages of learning to cope with their illness, the triggers are so widespread. So under-the-covers that they are hard to ascertain.

So, what does teeth brushing, shampoo purchases and t-shirt purchases have in common in your mind? If we are practicing our mindfulness exercises often enough, we will have become more skilled at being able to identify what those three things do have in common with one another, and in this particular case it is not something in your environment that you can eliminate. So in this particular case, this trigger would have to be identified by your environment, and tolerated in your environment. In some cases of course, if it is too distressing, leaving the environment is possible but at some point you will need to return. The interesting thing about a trigger like this is, it is environmental in that every time you brush your teeth you do not have an episode, rather only certain times. So what is it?

The trigger is when you are mindful of having to 'care for your needs' you have an episode. If you brush your teeth on a regular basis, you do not have an issue, but some times when you brush your teeth, you melt down. This latter case, you emotionally were feeling a bit more fragile and it triggered this, 'caring for myself' trigger. Same is true for the shampoo and t-shirt, this idea that why would anyone care for me? I simple cannot be well liked enough to deserve this 'extra care' floods your mind and you have an episode. What about the environment can you change while standing in the store to move you from melting down to a more steady experience. Something to distract long enough to know whether you will be able to return to choosing which shampoo or whether you will need to go home. You have options. I know my scenario is just plain silly. However, for purposes of not setting anyone off, I chose something silly. THe points all still remain the same though, we can't possible know all the triggers, some may be so deep seeded that we can't scrape the top layer, but they are there and we will need to be mindful of what is in our environment that can help or hinder. Go back to the grocery store now, I felt my heart plummet to my toes when I tried to read a label of a shampoo that I don't normally use. My thought was to maybe get a different kind, but this is too disturbing for me and I start to sweat, using my skills, I am going to A) begin a mindfulness exercise to see if I can identify what it is about my situation that is upsetting B) go over the factors that reduce effectiveness - skill-worry-indecision-environment. In this case, I may have the skill I may not, chances are I do, I just need to know what the trigger is so that I may grab the right skill, under these conditions though I don't have the luxury of plotting out an entire chain analysis. Worry thoughts may be present, but it certain isn't the driving factor here in the store, indecision may have a bit to do with it, especially since I do not know which shampoo I intend on buying, I doubt however it is that small of an indecision causing the episode lurking inside. In this case, I would shift gears, go do another bit of shopping while I sorted things out in my head, if I don't feel I can return to the shampoo aisle, then I can go home and problem solve a bit and then revisit it another time. With a little bit more preparation. See, leaving home I may have reduced as many vulnerabilities as possible, but eventually we will come against something that wasn't on our "preventable" list, and what are the factors in those moments that are reducing our effectiveness? I hope this series of posts have given us all a little something to take away and make even the tiniest of changes!

This brings us to the next line of thought. . . what do we do if we have spent as much time as possible in prevention methods and yet we find ourselves in the throes of yet another episode? How do we learn from something that seemingly came out of no where? Ya, I got something for that! Well, Marsha developed something for that too. I have taken that hard work of hers and have made a worksheet that can be used. I will share that with everyone next week.

So, about our changes. Our developing team (aka husband & self - o.k., so he has turned to the assistance of a professional web consultant friend to get ideas) anyways, :) we are currently working on integrating a fully interactive forum with live chat. We are very excited about this, DBT skills training is very effective in making a life change, and it becomes that much more a part of our lives when we can learn it, teach it, live it. This site has offered a lot of opportunity for me to keep these skills fresh in my mind so that when the need may arise for me to use a skill, I am more likely to obtain it. It has been useful for some of you out there that are struggling with "sticking to" DBT courses, or still others that have expressed their positive feed back because they are unable to "go out" and get group lessons. We all have our own situation that is benefiting from this site, now we will be able to add to that benefit. We will be able to share our successes and failures in real-time, with one another. This will be invaluable. The whole point of peer-support is the idea that someone 'like you' is going through or has gone through what you are. So it just makes sense that we use a forum that we can hear from everyone, sharing our experiences will make this journey that much more enjoyable. Sharing one another's wisdom can be quite fulfilling.

This week we hope to be up and running, and we welcome all to participate. However, our first "GROUP",  live chat will be Monday, July 5th, 2010. We have a date off a few weeks yet, because like I said, we are stilling working the bugs out. Your patience is appreciated.

*Click here to discuss this weeks post with the group*

Thank you for being an important part of My DBT Life . com!

To benefit fully from our online peer-support group please:

  1. Subscribe to our weekly blog –

  2. Follow us on Twitter for frequent mindfulness Tweets – @mydbtlife

  3. Join our forum for Peer-Support & discussions about the weekly post – Forum

  4. Join our Face Book page to increase mental health awareness – F.B. PAGE

If you would like to help in financially supporting our efforts please visit our Donations page to find out – How are my donations used?

If you can't help financially at this time that’s OK, You can still help out!

  • Post a link to on any page that you own: Face Book, My Space, Twitter, Your BLOG or Your Website- Every link helps us reach the ones who need these services!

  • Volunteer some of your time as a moderator in our forum. If you are certified as a peer-support person or just a friendly listening ear with experience, all are welcome to donate their precious time to help others in similar situations. Please E-mail us for more information!

Thank you!

MJ ~

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6th - 13th, 2010

Affecting change in your environment. I hope that our posts two weeks ago were helpful to the loved ones supporting someone with BPD. I had really hoped to hear from some of you about how that experience was for you. Alas, I did not hear from anyone. However, there are a lot variables in ones life when they are struggling with a mental illness, so I don't take it personal!

Moving on. . . The idea is to get others in your environment to respond to you in a desirable way. Any person can be trained, not changed. Now I certainly do not mean that a person can be trained like you train an animal, that would be degrading to them, and I am sure if you got the idea that someone was attempting to train you like an animal you wouldn't take too kindly to that either.

No, rather the training happens as a result to you becoming more effective in your own environment. The easiest tools to use when dealing with your environment are conflict tools, because lets face it, the factors in your environment that need to be changed that you cannot change are 99.999999% of the time another person, and these exchanges you have with them that are making your environment painful are called conflicts. Interestingly enough, I purposely chose not to call them arguments. People can have conflict without having arguments.

So,  some conflict tools that are easily obtained and can be quickly applied to ease the intensity of the conflicts are two simple strategies.

1- Use exit graceful lines - I briefly referred to these during this string of posts in "Factors that reduce our effectiveness". An exit graceful line contains a simple statement validating you and your partner, reinforcing your commitment to the relationship and recognizing the need to take a break. Not an indefinite break, but a brief break, therefore you will need to state the amount of time the break is being suggested for. advisable no longer than 24 hours.

The statement can be in any order, but it needs to contain at least all of the above points, it tends to function better as with any form of communication, if you validate the other person first. An example,

"I can see this is upsetting to you, I want to figure this out, I suggest we revisit this after dinner."

The key here is using a gentle, kind tone, which as we all know can be exceedingly difficult to do. When emotions are running high that can be the most challenging thing to do in fact, if we were able to control our tone, chances are we would be better equipped to control the conflict as well. However, there are some keys in getting this exit graceful line off without blurting out a vengeful "kill 'em with kindness" drippy exit line. No one likes to hear a, "I can see this is upsetting you (like you are so upsetable, man who wouldn't be able to see you are upset, the neighbors down the street can hear you are)" OR "I can see this is upsetting to you, (with my teeth clenched I say this, plastering a smile on, because darn it I WILL TAKE THE HIGH ROAD AND SHOW YOU HOW MUCH BETTER I AM AT THIS CONFLICT STUFF)" Right? Yeah, no good.

So when things are calm, no doubt you have a journal or some visual things to remind you of why you are making all of these changes in the first place, no doubt you have something that reminds you of how much you love your mate and why the two of you stay committed. So, when you are calm, write out your exit graceful line while you are reflecting on these reasons. The reflection of why you love this person coupled with why you are making these changes will help you to develop a few good exit lines that truly will be graceful because you know what you are working for, you will be able to draw on the reality that the two of you are in this together. Think of it this way, if you and your mate were having a picnic. It is a beautiful fall day, the weather is still warm enough that you do not need a heavy jacket, the sun is shining, the smell of winter coming in the air. You have prepared a wonderful meal, everything looks delicious. A leaf from the tree that you are sitting under falls onto the blanket, this leaf is disturbing to you. You begin to get upset that a leaf is ruining your perfect picnic and your mate starts to panic that you will go off of the deep end, you two start fighting about whether the leaf is worth getting that upset over, and in an effort to solve the problem not only do you spend your time arguing you get a match and set fire to the blanket to rid yourself of the leaf. There is no picnic to go back to is there? However, if the two of you would have stopped and realized that you are in the same boat, at the same picnic, your enjoyment at this picnic is dependent on both of you, it is a joint effort, instead of judging and blaming, you would have developed a way to get rid of the leaf swiftly and effectively and you would not have had to burn the entire blanket to do so. With a mental illness, sometimes what would seem silly or insignificant to a person in general, it may be very distressing to the person with the illness, and with repeated conflicts over these "simple" things, you and your mate are setting fire to your blanket. Making this exit graceful line, would at the picnic be like saying, "ok, I can see that the leaf is really upsetting to you, can we take a minute to take a deep breath and plan what we will do together, because it matters to me to keep this picnic nice with you, I am enjoying myself"

When you write it down, write some  words that will act as a cue for you. Like, "breath deeply, I want to say this calmly" or, some have found it useful to write into their exit graceful line a sentence that will help bring their tone down a bit and acknowledge their challenge in doing this at the same time.

Like, "I know I don't sound calm right now, but it is important to me to let you know I want to do this effectively. . . "

The bottom line is, make as much effort to come off calm and gentle, validate your partner's feelings, state the importance for both of you to handle this properly, and make a "date" to return to it, preferably soon, but it can be up to 24 hours later. Putting this spacer in place from the height of the conflict to when you make your request, which is covered in the next skill, you will increase the chances of your request being taken seriously and will improve the over-all good feelings between you and your mate, which I am certain we all could use a little more of  from time to time. Once you have written out a few exit graceful lines, keep them handy and when things get heightened, literally take out your card, pick one and read it verbatim from the card. It may seem silly, but it does work. There is no shame in using notes :)

2 - I notice & I request.  We have all heard many times how using "you" statements are not an effective way to communicate. Well, here is another venue in which "I" statements should be used. This is an abbreviated version of DEAR MAN, as taught in conventional DBT classes.

The basic idea here is to quickly address the growing tension between you and your mate, make your request, validate and allow the change. Over time there will be change, whether you get what you are requesting or not is not the point. But here you will be training your mate, with each calm response to the emerging conflict they are more likely to concede to your request. Over time, at the very least, they may be less judgmental or critical of your "leaf" at your picnic. This works with large conflict as well as small. It is more effective with smaller conflict, where as you use the same idea with larger conflict, you may just need more time to really weigh out what it is that you are really requesting.

So, an example of this is, after you had your exit graceful line, and you have come back together (with the heavier conflict I would encourage 24 hours later, but with less intense conflict it doesn't need to be that long) this is the time to succinctly put the "I notice...when...and I the future"

So, you and your mate are grocery shopping, the crowd is a little much for you and you notice that your pulse is up and you are getting short with your mate. You are tired and just want to be done shopping, your mate gets inpatient with you because you are taking too long to decide which item to purchase for dinner. You start to panic yourself, because you have become skillful enough these days to know that you are heading for a melt down if you don't get done shopping and into a calm, safe space. Your mate tells you that if you just hurried up you both would feel better and then he/she makes the attempt to wait elsewhere in the store while you finish shopping. This attempt to leave triggers you into feeling that he/she is abandoning you in a moment that you could really use some closeness, and you start to cry. Now, your mate raises his voice and says, "come on, this doesn't have to be like this"

Right here is where you use the exit graceful line, as much as you could use your partner to be there for you, the reality is the two of you need to step away from the situation or the conflict, so by taking ownership over the moment, you could say, "I understand this is hard for you and I, it is important to me that we learn an effective way to get through this. How about we take a deep breath and talk about this in the car on the way home"

Now you have put a little breathing room in for yourself and your mate, and you have shown yourself that in the moment you can take control, you still may feel as though you are going to puke, but you have taken hold of the reigns, now you do as you have asked, you take a deep breath. Finish shopping. Of course there are so many things  hurtful about your interaction with your mate, but to pick it apart and outline what you didn't like and what and why you want it to be different isn't going to gain any healing now. And that is what the two of  you need, you need to get some positive endings to conflict under your belt so that you can start building a road towards effective communication.

So you think about what really matters and you use say, "I notice that when I was crying you got angry with me, I understand that when I cry you probably get anxiety that things will explode, and I am asking that next time please don't raise your voice to me." Here we have what you noticed about their behavior that was triggering you, once again you validated their position, added AND to move into your request, rather than BUT, which tends to negate whatever was spoken in the sentence previous to the word 'but'.

Then, let it go. Yes, that will take practice but that is partly why it works. Your partner will start to see that you can calmly notice what is happening, ask for it to be different and it won't always end up in an episode. This is what does the training. Your mate is not heartless, they want to help, they just aren't skilled enough to do it at times. They will learn that telling you that "it doesn't have to be like this" won't help you, and that it doesn't improve the moment, but your clear exit graceful line to gain time and space and then your clear observation and request will give them something to think about.

Give it a try, write out a few situations that you could have used this method, get familiar with how it might look for you in your conflicts. Then put it into action with something small and see how you like it. Let us know what you think. I want to hear how you like it or don't like it.

Next week we'll talk more about other things you can do to help your environment that has nothing to do with your mate.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June 2nd 2010

Well folks, it as been over a week! Sorry about that. Life comes at you in various ways.

So my mid-week post isn't really taking shape as well as I had hoped for. Thanks for the patience. I am going to take it back to the drawing board. I plan on a regular post this Sunday. Until then, practice mindfulness... I would however really enjoy hearing from you as to what DBT is doing or not doing for you so far!