Sunday, February 6, 2011

February 6th - 13th, 2011: Skill of the week

Well this has been a week! Whew. For sure. ~ Between myself, AJ and the four kids each of us took turns being sick. Then the youngest, Gavin, waits for the illness to become full on until we have checked into our hotel room for the weekend...and BAM! High temps and sleepless nights. Nice. That was a real nice relaxing weekend away with the fam. 

OK, now that I have that off of my chest. I wonder how everyone has digested our posts on interpersonal effectiveness, I really haven't been blessed with any comments to discuss. I cannot encourage everyone enough that questions and comments are very welcome, in fact they are requested. It helps me to digest these skills hearing from others too. 

Next I wanted to discuss self-monitoring a bit. Most of these skills are only effective if there is awareness. We can only be aware of something if we have observed it. Observation only comes in the way of self-monitoring. So how do we do this? Believe it or not there is an effective way to self-monitor and an ineffective way to self-monitor. (As it seems to go with virtually everything in our world.)

Gathering Data on the Problem takes a method. What should you be gathering ? It reminds me of when I was in school and learning the essay writing process. The "high-five of the W's" Who, what, when, where and why ~ Anyways, answer these questions when gathering data about the problem. 

  • Who - obviously this is about you, but in cases of shaping a problem that you have specifically with a person, like a mate, parent, sibling etc. 
  • What - what is the problem? What are you focusing on? What are you watching for? Is this about the surface, a target-behavior; or more of a specific behavior in really specific situations. Be detailed about the what, so you know what you are monitoring. When monitoring the 'what' - you should be looking for the frequency of the behavior, duration and intensity.  
  • When - when does this behavior happen? What time of day? Part of the week? Part of the month, a season? When??
  • Where - where does this behavior occur? a specific place or in general settings? 
  • Why - - well... this is why it "reminds" me of the writing process, there really isn't a why to this. Obviously we know why we are monitoring!
So how should we gather this information? What is the most effective way to go about it? Something formal should be employed. I know most of us shirk the idea of a formalized journal writing session. But there is a lot of wisdom to this. It forces a  daily "check-in" and we can be so formal in that we can have a chart to just go down the list and weigh-in on any one of our numerous items that we may be monitoring. Most DBT plans have their own diary cards. They track very specific details about yourself and you can make your own. 

When you are recording what you are observing about your behaviors not only will you find it more effective to use a formal diary card or journal, but you should give yourself ample space and appropriate headings so that detailed information can be collected. Although this is a formal process, you will find it more effective to making the form or diary card be relatively quick and easy to use. Otherwise you will find that you will monitor yourself really good for about two weeks, maybe a month and then....zzzzzzzzz.

Some principles to consider when self-monitoring are the sooner you record the information the better. It is best to record the information at the same time each day. Don't give up too quickly, it is important to problem solve obstacles you may run into when gathering data:
  • Memory
  • Too complex
  • Doesn't seem helpful
  • Feeling emotionally overwhelmed
  • Judgments
What obstacles do find hinder your progress in self-monitoring? How can you manage a way around it? What can be done about it? Work it through.

Many have found that a gratitude journal keeps the idea of something formal light and doable. It is a way to daily remind ourselves of the why's of it all... that life that is worth living, and any piece of this life that we can be grateful about as it is will help to piece together the one that is worth living and make it more real, tangible and in the "NOW". Being mindful of what you are grateful for has even been linked to better physical health too. So it is a win/win activity! 

What have you found as a useful tool for self-monitoring?

MJ