Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30th - February 6th, 2011

Interpersonal Effectiveness - this will be our final week on this discussion. What are some factors that reduce our effectiveness in this area?

There are several factors that directly impact your effectiveness here, for example, do you even have the skill to get you through the experience effectively? If you do not actually have the skill yet you attempt to cross a mine field you will probably blow up. If you actually don't  know what to say or how to act or you don't know how you should behave to achieve your objectives you won't really know what works in your situation, will you? 

Something that can really reduce your effectiveness is worry thoughts. Worry thoughts get in the way of your ability to act effectively. You have the ability, but your worry thoughts interfere with doing or saying what you want. You may worry about bad consequences, "They won't like me," or "She will think I am stupid". You may worry about whether you deserve to get what you want; "I am such a bad person, I don't deserve this." Finally, your worry thoughts may be about not being effective or calling yourself names; "I won't do it right," "I'll probably fall apart," "or, "I'm stupid."

At times your emotions can be the show stopper to effective choices. Your emotions (ANGER, FRUSTRATION, FEAR, GUILT) get in the way of your ability to act effectively. You have the ability, but your emotions make you unable to do or say what you want. Emotions, instead of skill, control what you say and do. 

Here is one that I personally find as an ingredient when I haven't been effective, indecision. You can't decide what to do or what you really want, your objective isn't clear. You have the ability, but your indecision gets in the way of doing or saying what you want. You are ambivalent about your priorities. You can't figure out how to balance:

Friday, January 28, 2011

Clean undies, t-shirt, jeans, and socks

Some days this is all that can be done. Some days this action makes all of the difference. Gain mastery over each day, even if it is just getting dressed! 


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I am the Queen of OVER-DOING IT

They look innocent enough right? Yummy, home-made chocolate strawberry cookies. I know, I know, the pic isn't the greatest. But bear with me here, what you may not be able to see in this photo is that these cookies have a diameter of a cupcake (give or take a centimeter) They are perfectly baked, firm to the touch with a super soft center and frosted in a symmetrical fashion culminating to a smooth and delicious peak in the center of the confection. 

So what is the occasion? My son's school party. His class worked hard toward a common goal so that they could earn pizza and various other "party" foods. Yay! Good for you, Terrick! 

How does this relate to my purpose here at My DBT Life? Well, today's post isn't anything negative, but I also don't have a skill to highlight other than observation. So I guess this is really just an observation of mine about myself at best. 

Terrick is my step-son, so there is a lot of insecurity on my part about being the right kind of step-mom. Yes, I notice that I have made a judgment. It should read, "...about being an effective step-mom" - But my feelings run deep on this subject. So, out comes a judgment from time-to-time. Terrick has two full sets of parents who all love and cherish him. He is lucky that way. He came to this world in the middle of a divorce where his father had made some serious mistakes that hurt his mother deeply. (He's not so lucky with that one!) With those dynamics you can imagine that there was conflict. They have since worked it out and that is wonderful, but although Terrick may not have vivid recall of those days, I know for certain he has "body memories" of it in the form of anxiety. I say this with certainty not because "I KNOW...blah blah blah" rather, from what I have learned through DBT about how our bodies remember things that our conscience does not. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23rd - 30th, 2011: Skill of the Week


GIVE me help in holding FAST to my interpersonal effectiveness skills! 


**(this information is taken from Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan.)

OK, so that is stupid. But it does highlight an important step...whatever it takes for you, remember what these acronyms mean. That will help you retrieve information later when you have to act on the interpersonal effectiveness and you do not have time to write it all out and compare it to your skills. Obviously, where you can write it out and plan according to skills, by all means, do it. But being able to recall these skills while in action will come in handy. We are constantly interacting with people. Conflict can arise on the fly, keeping these skills close by will help us to be effective with ease. 

Alright, let's get started. There are three factors that need to be weighed for interpersonal effectiveness. In fact, every interaction we have with another person deals with these very things. As we have discussed in depth over the past three weeks, they are: our objective, our relationship with the other person, and our self-respect.

Often times you will find that when things are at their worst as it relates to interpersonal effectiveness, you are generally "off" kilter a bit. Meaning, you may be bouncing around on what your priority for the interaction is, you may be uncertain yourself. So understanding which acronym to use is going to be tricky, and it will take practice, but you will find that it gets easier. Our acronyms are: 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My own personal time machine

I have a personal time machine. No, it isn't some tricked out car, a phone booth, or even a hot tub. Mine is packaged in about a 5'10 medium build frame. It is nestled inside of head with medium length, brown hair. It sits behind hazel eyes and a life time of pains, and quite often...under my hat. It is my Amygdala . 

This part of our brain gives us the fight or flight reflex. By definition this action is subconscious. It is instantaneous. When there is a perceived threat our amygdala does the "talking" It tells us how to respond, do I run? What can I do to protect myself? This little bit of our brain becomes hyper-vigilant and remains that way if it has been exposed to trauma. 

Trauma is the key that starts the engine of our time machine. Trauma can come in forms of tiny negative experiences that are linked to larger experiences or events. This hyper-vigilance is guised as "a protection". In reality, it drains your energy and your effectiveness. DBT works well for keeping things on a manageable level, but if you cannot figure out how to reset your own amygdala to a more functional level, then you will burn yourself out and you will continue to crash.

How do I relate that to time traveling? 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prejudices & Stereotypes

My DBT Life utilizes a FORUM for members to discuss the skills, how they look in their daily lives, specific support on specific issues, or just to sound off. Although there isn't much action in there currently I check it and post often. I am certain that the traffic will pick up inside the forum the more members we get. 

However, today's post isn't about the forum, rather it is about a post that a member made inside the forum. It was touching on several levels. There are all too many times persons with mental illness suffer prejudices and stereotypes. She was quite articulate about her personal experience with these prejudices and stereotypes and I wanted to share it with everyone. Thank-you Morning-Moon for expressions!


Here is what she had to say:

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17th - 23rd, 2011: Skill of the Week ~

Sorry to everyone! I dropped the ball yesterday. I completely forgot to post our weekly skill. For those of us in the U.S. it is MLK day and although my delay has nothing directly to do with the holiday, it has a secondary impact; in-that my kids don't have school today and yesterday it felt more like Saturday night than Sunday night. Which led me to go about my evening as though it was in fact Saturday night, not until I went to bed did I even give a thought to the weekly skills post and well...the rest is history!

Alright we are working towards the completion of the skills set in interpersonal effectiveness. This week we will cover how self-respect fits in with this subject. 

How is it that you feel when you have accomplished something that took a lot of effort? Usually you feel good about yourself, or even proud of your accomplishment. I understand that this "pride" in your accomplishment tends to be short lived. We easily tear ourselves down and this is the exact reason we need to pay close attention to building mastery and self-respect when working towards interpersonal effectiveness. Without mastery and self-respect we will generally be confused with the priority each interaction has, is it our self-respect that needs to stay in tact? Or maybe top priority should be given to your objective? Maybe the relationship with the person is the most important in the interaction. Not knowing each's role you will likely choose the wrong one in priority and therefore base your interaction off of flawed thinking. Of course we know that in turn flawed thinking lends to a poor interaction. This ability is a skill that was meant to be taught at a very young age. Whether your parents failed to do so or your mental illness prevented anything your parents attempted to teach, sink in really has no bearing on learning it now. However, there is something to be said for if your parents did fail to teach you this about yourself, be aware learning it now may trigger you in that department. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Target Behavior

At the beginning of this journey I had many target behaviors to track and monitor. Over time I have narrowed those targets down to only a couple. Which is certainly a relief. Less time consuming for sure. Regardless, DBT is still work, all the time. Sometimes, I get tired. I am sure many of you can relate to this. Now, when I get tired I automatically want to turn to a "comfort" action.

My comfort actions are alcohol, drugs, spending money....eating. I am proud to say it has been almost 3 years since my last drink, my prescriber has weened me off of the addictive anti-anxiety drugs and the like and I have curbed the over-spending. Although...eating still remains.

This would be me, except of course that I am not a guy! However, over-eating is my biggest demon when it comes to comfort behaviors. Amazingly enough I have also lost 60 pounds over the last two years, and I have maintained for almost a year. So the over-eating is really scary for me. I do not want to gain any of that weight back. 

What does this dilemma tell me? Well, it means that my next focus is on learning how to truly eat mindfully. This skill ranks up there with Radical Acceptance in my book. I have read a lot about how I need to do this, and I have been putting it off. Reasoning that I am working on a lot, I need to give myself a break and only work on the ones that pose an immediate threat to my well being. Alright, that makes sense and honestly, I am at the point that it is the most urgent threat to my well being. Something needs to change.

The past 4 weeks I have let the over-eating take over for the majority of the time and because of it, I have gained 7 pounds. As a side note, I am taking into consideration weight fluctuation, I am not squabbling over a pound or two. Even still, I see this gain as the end of the world, in my emotion mind. In my logic mind I reason that this is only a few pounds, and I can be more diligent about my food plan and it will be gone in a flash. Although what my logic mind says about the gain is true, but this situation screams at me that I need to focus my attention on it. Because it feels like such a failure on my part and the fear has gripped me so badly, that is my cue to focus on why. Why is my body image so important? Why is 7 pounds of weight gain so terrifying? 

From a mindful observation of my situation I have come up with this: 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Celebrations: when are they a bad idea?

Today a dear friend passed away.

She was a 45 year old mother of one child, a six year old beam of sunshine. In fact, our daughter and he are only 5 days apart, and they are great friends! She died of leukemia which was diagnosed only 6 short weeks ago. 

Believe it or not, this post is not about the sadness that I may or may not be feeling about this. I am merely setting the stage for a particular  DBT skill that is very useful. So, as it goes, yesterday was a due date for some very important documents that my family relies on for finances and I was unprepared and was not able to file them. In fact,  I went to bed last night expecting to do them first thing in the morning, only to wake to this news about our friend. Which of course only compounded the stress. I am tending to my personal ailment of my pulled muscle, but it still hurts. I say all of this because this is the thought process I have to go through in order to be sure I am reducing as many vulnerabilities as I possibly can. With a mental illness, I am responsible for taking care of everything that is in my power to care for, I am responsible for preparing myself for contact with things that I cannot control and I am responsible for tending to any distress that will come from the unexpected that I am not in control of. 

That being said, as the stress began to mount yesterday and then the heavy news this morning, it was time for me to be sure I was caring for any physical ailments, like my shoulder. I made sure I had eaten properly and I made sure to carve out time in my day for a rest, because today is a day that I know I will need a bit extra. These are things that although they may seem minor, they go a long way in preventing a crisis. My moods swings are already brittle and are unable to bear much weight. I do have to say though, they are much stronger than a year ago, or six months ago. I am gaining in strength. This growth is from diligent practice and use of these skills. OK, so what now? I am not faltering a bit with the mounting stress and I feel really good about how mindful I am being about it all. Today, I checked my V.I.T.A.L.S. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 9th - 16th, 2011: Skill of the week

Objective Effectiveness. This is one piece to the gigantic puzzle that is Interpersonal Effectiveness. 

Last week when we discussed relationship effectiveness, we were able to see some detailed thought processes that are good to go through in order to determine whether the conflict at hand needs to take the relationships needs as top priority. When are main focus is on getting and keeping a good relationship we do well to focus in the direction of the information from last week. 

What about when our objective needs to be top priority? What then? What if, although it is really important to you to maintain a good relationship with the person you are in conflict with, but it is more important to have your objective met, or to reach your goal? Let's suppose you are out to dinner and your meal is not what you ordered. When you notify the waitress she seems to have a really bad attitude about it. Which is more important, to get the food served to you the way you ordered it, or to retain a good relationship with the waitress? Naturally, we would want to balance those two. We don't want her too upset at us, for fear of what she would do to the food back in the kitchen, but your objective would out-weigh the relationship in that, you are going to pay for the food, it should be what you ordered. Of course this is a really small example, there are several other ways to handle it, but it gives us a glimpse at what the difference in the priorities might look like in real life scenarios. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Building a Life Worth Living

At some point, I seem to have stopped writing about the skills and started living them. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I’m doing it. My training course involves techniques from brief solution-focused therapy. As part of this, we ask clients we consult with what their best hopes are for our work together. DBT did not start like this, probably because I couldn’t have felt or articulated any hope at that point. My goal was not to die by suicide, and some days I wasn’t even totally committed to that. Yet eighteen months in, I realise that DBT has changed my life
 beyond my best hopes. I’m finding  that I want to preach the skills to everyone I talk to, because they work. And the result is that there are more and more days when I do not have to fight the noise in my head to get up and go out and live. The noise of suicide and self destruction and suffering. There is still pain, but I am not suffering in the same way. Until I met radical acceptance, I didn’t even know that pain and suffering were different. Mostly, these days, it is quiet enough in my head for me to be able to hear life. I never expected this; I realise now that my best hope was to find a way to live over the noise.


Thank-you Improving-the-moment for your experience! We love hearing how DBT is working for others. Anyone else who would like to share, please come to the forum.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kisses make it all better, maybe.

So I have pulled a muscle in my right shoulder and the smarty pants that I am, I have not gone to the doctor about it. Until today that is. This pain has been nasty for almost two weeks. I had convinced myself that the doctor couldn't really DO anything about my shoulder, so therefore it was pointless to go. However, I was mistaken, and to add insult to injury I came to understand that had I not come in, this pain would not likely go away any time soon, like months and months. 

See, I have a locked and spastic muscle, the large one that covers the entire right side of my back over my should bone. Ouch. So I guess that without a muscle relaxer my muscle would remain in this pain/spasm cycle. With the muscle relaxer however, I will break the vicious cycle. Then he prescribed me a strong painkiller so that I can do exercises with relaxed muscles and no pain. The exercise is what is going to make the entire thing better. So having just waited, all I did was not tend to my vulnerabilities (my "P" in please master) and prolong the pain. Nice huh? I didn't do a very good job in practicing what I preach! 

I have been running all day long on an empty tank. I can barely eat I am in so much pain. My doctor sends the prescriptions over to the pharmacy via electronic notification. Sounds advanced right? Well, I hot foot it over to my pharmacy only to find out that they cannot do anything about my prescription for another hour. No biggee, I have grocery shopping to do anyways. My family is so large that I usually do my month shopping at Costco (a warehouse type store that you can buy in bulk). Costco is a nightmare for anyone suffering from panic or anxiety attacks. But, I suffer through because my family needs groceries. My patience is thin and I want to curl up into a ball and cry. I get through it, amazingly.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lend a helping paw...

This concept is not foreign to very many people. Most of us have heard of it, but how many of us have tried it? Now, I am not suggesting that you scoop your goldfish out of his bowl and start petting him or anything like that. However, if you have a cat or a dog I do suggest you give this a try. This is something more than just petting or grooming your animal. This is something you will once again, do mindfully.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 2nd - 9th, 2011: Skill of the week


As with anything in DBT, life is about balancing, right? Balancing your logic mind with your emotion mind, balancing your recreation and rest with responsibility, and balancing your wants with your needs. Part of interpersonal effectiveness means that you are going to weigh what your urges are. Are you asking for something from a person in your environment because it is a need, or a desire? There is a difference and it is important you know which it is, because depending on which it is and what sort of situation you are in will heavily weigh in on how adamant you are about getting what you are asking for. This concept is also true for whether you are saying no to a request based on a need of yours or a desire of yours. 

What are some other experiences that will directly impact your use of interpersonal effectiveness skills? What are some other cases in which you will have to be sure that your skills are nicely honed in order to come off effective? Well, we all have relationships in life. From the relationship you have with the local grocer or your mail-person to the relationship you have with your parents, siblings, co-workers, and a mate. Notice I did not say, we all have great, wonderful relationships. Because some of these relationships that we have may not be great even though we really would love it to be so. Like you may have a relationship with your mother and no matter how much you want it to be better, it simply may not be. The question isn't whether the relationship is good or bad, or if it is as effective as you want it. Rather, when you are deciding what skill to use you will be consulting yourself as to whether you need to be focusing on attending to the relationship or if the priority should be given to your own self-respect. 

Likely, we all understand and have had experience with, when there is conflict we have a struggle and a choice to make, do we give in to preserve the relationship or do we dig our heels in to preserve self-respect? The answer of course is neither. Obviously at first it may look a  little messy, but ideally over use and practice we will learn how to prioritize between three focuses for every interpersonal interchange. In the end behaving in a way that was effective with our self-respect in tact, whatever weight the relationship was in need of was given and your objective was taken serious and possibly even achieved. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Get set...ready... GO!

Ladies and gentlemen! (assuming there are gentlemen who read) Guess what today is? OK, so I sort of gave it away with the intro. This isn't about resolutions or superstitions about the new year. Rather this is a reminder that there is something that a new year brings that should motivate us to action. That is...