Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14th - 21st, 2010 ~ Skill of the week:

I think that it is really important to spend more time on ourselves. No, this isn't being selfish, really it isn't. We are progressively learning things about ourselves that really will make a difference in our recovery. 

This week, lets focus on the axiom that is D.B.T. The idea that two opposites can and do exist at the same time. This is true in the statement, "I am doing the best that I can AND I need to do better." I personally believe that this statement should be affixed to everyone's mirror (or equivalent) as a constant reminder of not only what D.B.T. is, but also to validate themselves. This is a hard road, no question. At times it feels like it is uphill at a near 90 degree angle for as far as the eye can see. These times are the most critical to understand that you are in fact doing the very best that you have, and staying humble and real, you will also remind yourself that you can and will do better (timeline appropriate anyways). It is absolutely unreasonable to think that someone who has just started to address their mental illness will be skilled enough to identify their triggers and place a skill over the top of one and use it effectively 85% of the time. That is unreasonable for a lot of D.B.T. veterans. But that is reasonable for those out there that have been in recovery for 5 years+. Of course I say that with the disclaimer: that is relative to each consumer. No two persons are the same and skills will not come to each the same and at the same time as the other. OK, having said that, moving on...the axiom of D.B.T. - Wise MindTry and think of Wise Mind as a mathematical equation. 

The numerator and denominator can be whatever value you need them to be in the situation that you need it in order to achieve wise mind. This will differ from situation to situation and person to person. So how do you know what value each should have for various situations? Again, you have to be get to know yourself. The answer is only inside you. Your therapist cannot tell you what it is, there is no magic number. 

Some things to consider when trying to understand what those values would need be is what you know about your sensitivities and reactivities to your current environment. Again you would be being unfair to yourself and those around you if you take what you want your environment to be and base the effectiveness of skills on that. Rather, you must take where you are now and work from that. You can change all of what you know about yourself and reassess as you need to fit your circumstances. We have talked extensively about this. 

What is your sensitivity like in your current environment? Some are more emotionally sensitive than others, just as some people have more sensitive hearing, more sensitive taste, and so on. People with greater emotional sensitivity can sometimes tell what those with less sensitivity are feeling before they know it themselves. We see this come into play in relationships.  Your interpersonal effectiveness would really benefit with a deep look into what your sensitivity is. For example, people with high emotional sensitivity seem to grasp intuitively how other people are feeling, coping, and so on. Conversely, a person with low emotional sensitivity can sometimes have a really hard time intuitively understanding what another person is feeling . This person may need to have a lot more explaining and more direct and specific requests in order to be emotionally supportive and responsive. Low emotional sensitivity can leave a spouse or partner feeling misunderstood or even lead to falsely (but understandably) believing that the other person doesn't care about him or her. 

When you are inspecting your sensitivity, please understand that some people can be sensitive about some topics or situations but not about others. These differences in overall emotional sensitivity result from ordinary developmental processes, the way conflict situations were handled by parents during childhood, as well as from the basic temperament with which you were born. So be kind to yourself when you observe this about yourself. Really get to know what your sensitivity is in different situations and most of all be honest. This is not for judgments, you cannot be right or wrong about your sensitivity. It is what it is and sit with that. We work from that, not what we want it to be. 

Next, your reactivity. Regardless of how sensitive any of us may be, when we do notice something that is emotionally relevant, our reaction may be small or large. Which is it for you? Observe yourself, a big reaction would often be loud, more rapid and intensely expressed, and is accompanied by higher emotional arousal. Thus, big reactions (high reactivity) can communicate more clearly what you are feeling, but also can result in reactions that are sometimes too quick, getting upset or even dysregulated before all of the information has been delivered or received. Obviously this can be counterproductive, of course: if reactivity had been lower, you might well have acted differently and been more effective. Conversely, small reactions - often quieter, slower, and less intensely expressed - allow time to understand the whole picture but may not effectively communicate how important something is or what you may be feeling, easily resulting in misunderstandings. Learning to regulate reactivity (more intense and rapid expression or less intense and rapid expression) is an important part of leaning to manage your own emotions and by default help you to understand what values you would need to apply to your logic mind and emotion mind to equal your wise mind. 

dysregulated, because your arousal is already elevated. Understanding about yourself how long it takes you to return to emotional equilibrium will help you to know what is needed to gain wise mind in a wide variety of situations. 

Take some time this week to observe yourself, what is your emotional sensitivity, reactivity and how long does it take you to return to baseline? The answers will help the puzzle that is you come into focus. This focus will give you great insight into what Logic Mind + Emotion Mind = Wise mind is for you in your environment.


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