Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 3rd - 10th, 2010


So I can assume that we all have been extra nice to ourselves this past week, with our positive affirmations that we have all been practicing, right? :) OK, so we have been building on our skills base to help prevent things from getting out of control. If we keep these principles in mind when we go about our daily routine, we are more likely to avoid the "fall", or if we are regular with our positive affirmations we are increasing our good vibes, and therefore heightened behavior is further off of the horizon. If we practice letting go, then we are less likely to have resentment build and by consequence we will be more likely to be skillful. But what do we do if our emotions are still getting the better of us? What do we do even after we have been using the above mentioned skills? What are we going to do in the moment, when we have officially been hijacked emotionally....

All you DBT veterans, say it with me...OPPOSITE ACTION...

By using Opposite Action we can change the emotion we are having. By getting active with ourselves, we can drive those ineffective emotions away from our experience. Interestingly, we are not going to call them "bad" or "wrong" emotions, because all of our emotions serve a purpose. Some just are not justified in the experience we are having them.

Some things about emotions to understand and accept for as a reality, is that every emotion has a purpose and has an action. Even if it feels that that action is in-action. It is still an action. So if you are having an undesirable emotion, simply change your current action and then poof! your emotion will change. Aren't you glad you asked? :) Seriously, if we are having an undesirable emotion, we do need to then change our current action and it will in-turn change our current emotion. But it is far from simple and very rarely are there any "poof!"'s involved.

You may immediately protest, "Hey, that doesn't work!" However, you must challenge your interpretation to this exercise. If you have tried changing your emotions because they are undesirable, and yet the emotion you are attempting to change seems to not be able to budge, perhaps that emotion is justified in your experience and it is another emotion altogether that needs to change in order to exact a more effective experience. It would be a great idea to endeavor to have a deeper understanding of when an emotion is justified or not. Perhaps you could incorporate that into a mindfulness exercise.  

Sometimes an emotion may be understandable, but not justified. Example: Fear is justified when your Life, Health, or Well being is threatened, or a loved one’s Life, Health, or Well being is threatened. There are many times that it is understandable to be fearful, yet it is not justified unless the above is true.

A number one rule you will have to obey in order for opposite action to work is that you must do it all the way. Commit to it fully. If after making a good old fashioned try it seems as though it may not be working all that well, you cannot abandon the exercise. Keep moving forward with it.

Let’s look at anger. Anger is characterized by attacking or moving towards something or someone, or repetitive self-talk that someone or something “should” be different. Anger is justified when an important goal is blocked or you are experiencing a lot of pain. The problem here is even if Anger is justified is still may be ineffective. Anger usually is ineffective, even when it is justified.

Some opposite action strategies for anger would then be to gently avoid, be decent and a little kind. Perhaps take a moment out and look at the other persons grain of truth. Because remember, there is truth in each point of view. Each side of things has a bit of the truth.

I encourage you to take some time this week and analyze what emotions you personally tend to struggle with and calculate what the opposite action for those emotion might look like for you. Put together a list on an index card (or something to that effect) so that you have it handy the next time you experience the ineffective emotion.

A brief summary of the steps you will follow:

  • What emotion are you experiencing that you believe to be ineffective?
  • What is the action the emotion is trying to get you to do?
  • Ask yourself, “Do I really want to reduce the emotion?”
  • What is the opposite action to this emotion?
  • Do the opposite action.
Notice there is a step in there that is forcing you to do a double-take, asking yourself if you really want to reduce the emotion. When we suffer sometimes we willfully avoid emotions that we really would be more effective in the larger picture if we would endure a little exposure therapy. But, that I will save for next week! For now, give this is a go, we look forward to hearing from you!


We will be holding our group tomorrow, Monday, October 4th, 2010 @ 2p.m. PDT. We will be discussing some of our principles we learned over the last few weeks. Time permitting we will discuss some of the material from this post.

Hope to see you all there!


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