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.


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